The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-1863, Kevin J. Dougherty

The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-1863, Kevin J. Dougherty

This book takes an unusual approach to the campaigns that led to the Union capture of Vicksburg, looking at the leadership lessons that can be learnt from different elements of the campaign. Vicksburg does lend itself to this approach, with a clear difference in the style and abilities of the leaders on both sides.

Dougherty starts with a 40 page account of the Vicksburg campaign, which also includes a brief summary of the opposing armies, the organisation on both sides and Grant's various attempts to get past the town. The main part of the book consists of thirty leadership vignettes. Each of these takes a particular aspect of leadership and illustrates it by looking at a suitable part of the campaign. This part of the book takes a certain amount of getting used to as the military history is mixed in with leadership theory, an area that has its own jargon and language.

At first I found the clash between the historical discussion and the modern leadership theory a little jarring, but once this initial impressive has been overcome the approach starts to make sense. Vicksburg saw a clash between very different leadership styles at several levels of command. At the highest level both Lincoln and Jefferson Davies played a part in the campaign, Lincoln by keeping Grant in command despite some doubts about his abilities and Davies by failing to coordinate the Confederate attempts to defend Vicksburg. The two army commanders were very different, with Pemberton a rather more ponderous leader than Grant. Their subordinates and colleagues also differed in ability, with Grant benefiting from (mainly) able loyal subordinates and Pemberton suffering from argumentative subordinates and strained relations with his equal ranking neighbour on the west bank of the Mississippi.
This is an interesting approach to an important campaign. Grant is always acknowledged as being a better leader than Pemberton, but this book helps to explain what it was about Grant's style that made him the superior leader and it is well worth getting past the leadership jargon.

Part 1: Understanding Vicksburg

Part 2: Leadership Vignettes
1 - The Mighty Mississippi: Winfield Scott and Strategic Vision
2 - The Battle of Corinth: Ulysses Grant and Creating the Necessary Conditions
3 - Set Up to Fail: The Confederate Departmental System and Strategic Organization
4 - The Wrong Man for the Job: John Pemberton and the Peter Principle
5 - The Confederate Conflict: John Pemberton and Poor Relations with Subordinates
6 - The Federal Team: Ulysses Grant and Positive Relations with Subordinates
7 - Chickasaw Bayou: William Sherman and Knowing When to Quit
8 - The Self-Made Man and the Reinvented Man: The Raids of Forrest and Van Dorn
9 - Other Failed Attempts: Ulysses Grant and Perseverance
10 - A Close Call for the Federals: Charles Dana and Dealing with Weakness
11 - Asymmetric Warfare: Zedekiah McDaniel, Francis Ewing and Innovation
12 - Running the Gauntlet: Ulysses Grant, David Porter and Unity of Effort
13 - Helping Run the Gauntlet: William Sherman and Playing a Supporting Role
14 - The Battle of Port Gibson: John Bowen and Technical Competence
15 - 'Cutting Loose': Ulysses Grant and Taking Risk
16 - Confederate Confusion: John Pemberton and Frame of Reference
17 - Grant Heads Northeast: Ulysses Grant and Clear Communications
18 - The Battle of Raymond: John Gregg and Understanding the Situation
19 - The Battle of Jackson: Joseph Johnston and Pessimism
20 - The Battle of Champion Hill: Ulysses Grant and Personal Presence
21 - Retreat from Champion Hill: Lloyd Tilghman and Personal Sacrifice
22 - Assault on Vicksberg: Thomas Higgins and Heroic Leadership
23 - Problem Removed: John McClernand and Destructive Ambition
24 - Siege Warfare: Henry Foster and Problem Solving
25 - The Federal Mine: John Logan and Initiative
26 - Surrender and Parole: Ulysses Grant and Pragmatism
27 - Little Help from Above: Jefferson Davis and Strategic Direction
28 - A Decisive Victory: Abraham Lincoln and Admitting When You're Wrong
29 - The Meridian Campaign: William Sherman and Creating Opportunity
30 - A Tragic Hero: John Pemberton and Selfless Service
Conclusions about Leadership during the Vicksburg Campaign
Vicksburg Campaign Order of Battle

Author: Kevin J. Dougherty
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2011

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