Grierson's Raid was one of the most effective cavalry raids of the American Civil War. In the spring of 1863 Benjamin Grierson led a small force from north to south across the Confederacy, eventually reaching safety at Baton Rouge. The raid was intended to distract the Confederates on the Mississippi, drawing their attention away from U.S. Grant's upcoming offensive around Vicksburg.
Grierson's raid was a success in several different ways. First of all several thousand Confederate troops were pulled into the chase, in an attempt to intercept and destroy his Union cavalry brigade. Second, he was able to destroy several sections of Confederate rail track, in one case putting a railway out of action for the rest of the war. Third, he destroyed a significant amount of Confederate military equipment at a time when the Confederacy was finding it almost impossible to replace lost railway engines and difficult to supply basic equipment such as boots or tents.
Lardas's text gives a clear picture of the raid, from the original planning, to the forces involved and the reasons for their successes. The heart of the book is a day-by-day account of the raid, which follows Grierson's main raid, the detached forces he send off, and the Confederate response. He is particularly successful at linking the Confederate responses to the information available to the different commanders as Grierson's fast moving troops slipped past them.
As always the text is well supported with illustrations, photographs and maps. The most useful of the maps shows the overall route of the raid, the route taken by two detached forces and a second raid, the lines of the main railways and the location of Confederate troops when the raid began. There are also a series of 3D maps showing the main attacks on Confederate towns.
Author: Mark Lardas