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

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

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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


Recently there have been a spate of business and leadership books which take lessons from military affairs and apply them as “life lessons.” Some have covered Gettysburg, or Lincoln, or other Civil War topics, as well as WWII and other eras. Among the newest 9and best) of these is Kevin J. Dougherty’s recently released The Campaigns for Vicksburg: 1862-1863: Leadership Lessons, published and distributed by Casemate.

Dougherty not only presents a solid overview of the campaign, its battles, personalities, and results, but he applies key learnings to everyday situations to examine the facets of leadership required to make the best decisions under pressure. Whether in the office or at work, at school, or in relationships, we all face tough decisions, ones that may not only impact ourselves, but also those around us. Dougherty provides a glimpse into how the leaders at Vicksburg, both Union and Confederate, faced (or worsened) those challenges.

The author is a former U.S. Army officer and current instructor at The Citadel. He applies lessons from U.S. Grant’s determination, Joe Johnston’s vacillation, Earl Van Dorn’s audacity and daring, William Tecumseh Sherman’s willing subordination to Grant and his ability to augment and fulfill his boss’s ideas, John Pemberton’s ineptness and incompetence with a highly responsible position (promoted over his capabilities), and other key leaders and their defining traits. Each lesson is summarized with a series of key takeaways which can be applied to everyday decisions faced by the reader.

The book is divided into two sections. The first gives an overview of the military situation, its importance, key challenges faced by the leadership of both opposing armies, and the potential implications and outcomes of their decisions. For readers unfamiliar with the Vicksburg Campaign, this is a useful and needed section.

The second section consists of 30 short chapters which are individual vignettes of several Confederate and Union leaders. It is here where Dougherty’s book shines. He analyzes each man from a leadership perspective, studying his strengths and weaknesses and how they applied them (or became overwhelmed by the situations they faced). There is much rich content in these lessons that can be relevant to today’s world.

This book is useful for business and civic leaders, pastors, presidents and officers of organizations, and others in leadership positions. It is, more importantly, applicable to tough situations faced by ordinary people, giving lessons of what to do and what not to do based upon the military personalities at Vicksburg almost 150 years ago during the Civil War.

This study of the Battle of Vicksburg offers “a thorough campaign history . . . and 30 instructional leadership vignettes” by a Citadel tactical officer (Military Review).

Considered by many historians to be the truly decisive battle of the Civil War, Vicksburg is fascinating on many levels. A focal point of both western armies, the campaign of maneuver that finally isolated the Confederates in the city was masterful. The Navy’s contribution to the Union victory was significant. The human drama of Vicksburg’s beleaguered civilian population is compelling, and the Confederate cavalry dashes that first denied the Union victory are thrilling. But the key to the federal victory at Vicksburg was simply better leadership. It is this aspect of the campaign that The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862–1863 seeks to explore.

The first section of this book familiarizes the reader with the challenges, characteristics, and styles associated with leadership during the Civil War in general. It also outlines the Vicksburg campaign, from the failed attempts at capture to the brilliant maneuvers and logistics that allowed Grant to ultimately lay siege. The second section of the book contains thirty “leadership vignettes” that span the actions of the most senior leaders down to those of individual soldiers. Each vignette explains the action in terms of leadership lessons learned and concludes with a short list of “take-aways” to crystallize the lessons for the reader.

This study covers many of the Civil War’s most famous commanders who vied for the Rebel “Gibraltar on the Mississippi” and reveals important lessons on decision-making that still apply to this day.

Community Reviews

Five stars plus! I loved reading this amazing book by Kevin Dougherty. “The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is too good of a book to be relegated as just another history of Vicksburg. Bookstores should not limit the book to assignment in the military history section. It deserves a prominent place in the business section with the books on leadership and management as well as the military history section. As I read the book I was reminded of a book I read in the early 1990s, Five stars plus! I loved reading this amazing book by Kevin Dougherty. “The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is too good of a book to be relegated as just another history of Vicksburg. Bookstores should not limit the book to assignment in the military history section. It deserves a prominent place in the business section with the books on leadership and management as well as the military history section. As I read the book I was reminded of a book I read in the early 1990s, "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun". The book is that good!

Kevin Dougherty does a great job of providing leadership lessons from the key military and political leaders of the time. He helps us understand Vicksburg. He does this by sharing the challenges, characteristics, and styles associated with leadership during the Civil War. He follows with an overview of the entire Vicksburg Campaign.

Next, he provides thirty case studies or leadership vignettes. He starts with General Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan. He carries us systematically through the campaign. We meet and learn about the key leaders and engagements. Each of the thirty vignettes begins with the short summary. It follows with a succinct history of the event (e.g. Chickasaw Bayou: William Sherman and Knowing When to Quit). Sharing the resulting leadership lessons learned from the event follow. The chapters (vignettes) conclude with a sidebar of “Takeaways” which provide a succinct summary of the lessons learned.

As you are enjoying reading the book, you learn valuable lessons on the difference between management and leadership. You gain an understanding of servant leadership. You see the value of clear communication from leaders to their subordinates. You comprehend the worth of personal presence of the leader in an organization.

The author ends the book with conclusions about leadership during the Vicksburg campaign. The areas covered are strategy, confidence, unity of effort, frame of reference, situational awareness, risk taking, problem solving, personal bravery, and technical skill. The inclusion of the Vicksburg Campaign Order of Battle as an appendix is appreciated and helps with the understanding of the size of the leadership task faced by General U.S. Grant.

“The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is a valuable addition to the study of leadership and Vicksburg. It would be an excellent study for business leaders as well as the professional officer and soldier. I recommend its addition to the personal library of all students of military science. My hope is it would be included in the reading lists of the officer basic or advanced courses. As in "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun", the lessons presented in "The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons" are timeless.


American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, by David W. Blight,
Belknap Press , 2011, $27.95

Just before his death in 1870, Robert E. Lee wrote in a letter to a former aide, Lt. Col. Charles Marshall, that “It is history that teaches us to hope.” In his wonderful new book American Oracle, David Blight poignantly reminds us that only “a sense of tragedy makes real hope possible.”

Blight’s great gift as a historian is his ability to transform complex and often contentious issues into clear, concise and unfailingly elegant prose. Nowhere is this more evident than in his meditation on how four American writers—Robert Penn Warren, Bruce Catton, Edmund Wilson and James Baldwin—influenced public memory during the centennial commemoration of the Civil War, turbulent years that coincided with Cold War anxiety and the birth of a militant civil rights movement.

In his prologue—worth the price of the book alone—Blight opens the discussion by explaining public memory as the stories we tell ourselves to under­stand who we are and how we got that way. To answer why Americans con­tinue to be fascinated by the war, he notes: “The American Civil War has been an event that fiercely resists popular consensus…it remains the mythic national epic.”

Warren, Catton, Wilson and Baldwin might seem an odd combination for such a study. But after absorbing Blight’s nuanced analysis of their lives and works, it becomes evident that, for each man, “a tragic temperament informed the view of American history generally and the Civil War era in particular.” The difficulty Americans have always had with understanding historical tragedy is a theme Blight returns to throughout the book.

Reading American Oracle requires intellectual courage and an inquiring mind. Those who take the challenge will have a veil of comfortable conventions torn away. In their place will be the Civil War, the seminal event in America’s story, unfurled in all its complicated tragedy, demanding to be interpreted anew.
—Gordon Berg

For Duty and Destiny: The Life and Civil War Diary of William Taylor Stott, Hoosier Soldier and Educator, by Lloyd A. Hunter, Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011, $27.95

Most Civil War diaries and letters compiled by rustic Midwestern foot soldiers were written by uneducated men who had lived simple lives before they marched off to war. Anyone who has spent much time reading them will find plenty of dialogue about physical hardships, descriptions of landscapes and weather, and complaints about provisions and incompetent officers.

But the prose of William Taylor Stott, a future academician who fought with the 18th Indiana Infantry, reflects the intellect of an unusually bright and college-educated soldier who hailed from the cornfields of Indiana. Stott’s diary is full of religious and philosophical musings, reflections on great literary works, his observations about human behavior and relations between the sexes, and his frequent ruminations about being out of place as an intellectual thinker among his often crude and crass comrades-in-arms.

A devoted Baptist, Stott’s religious views leaned fundamentalist and doctrinal—he advocated temperance in the Army and insisted on baptism by immersion. But Stott can’t be stereotyped as merely religiously dogmatic. He fervently opposed slavery and embraced racial equality, quite unusual for a common soldier at the time. He was ecumenical, accepting of those with beliefs other than Baptist, and loved times of solitude and quiet meditation. His sense of humor was often expres­sed in subtle wit and understated playfulness.

Stott spent more than three years in uniform, fighting in several major engage­ments, marching (by his own
estimation) 10,000 miles and rising from private to captain. He saw the worst horrors war had to offer, but maintained a spiritual and philosophical assurance that it was all a part of a larger plan and purpose for good. Although he survived the war, he was plagued by health problems the rest of his life.

This book is more than just a reproduction of Stott’s Civil War diary. Author Lloyd A. Hunter, professor emeritus of history and American studies at Franklin College, covers Stott’s entire life story in-depth and lends insight into this renaissance man’s wartime service. Recommended reading for the Civil War history aficionado or scholar.
—James R. Hall

The Campaign for Vicksburg, 1862-1863: Leadership Lessons, Kevin J. Dougherty, Casemate, 2011, $32.95

When asked what qualities he most desired in a military leader, Napoleon reportedly responded he needed only one: luck. Yet the notion that success in warfare—or in any human endeavor—is largely out of the hands of those who pursue it does not usually sit well with most people. More appealing is the idea that there are universal principles of leadership, and that success or failure comes down to whether leaders have the wisdom to understand and apply them. To identify those principles, leadership theorists have invariably looked to the past, with a “lessons learned” approach to history reflected in the many books that purport to use military history as a tool to developing leadership.

Kevin Dougherty’s new study of the Vicksburg Campaign is the latest addition to this pocket of literature. His brief overviews of the campaign and Civil War leadership challenges are informative and well-written. Dough­erty includes 30 vignettes from the campaign that illustrate good and bad leadership moments, and offers a short list of “takeaways” for aspiring leaders at the end of each vignette (e.g., “Leaders must find their niche” “Even leaders must know how to follow” “Com­munication is a two-way street”). It’s not surprising that Dougherty presents Ulysses Grant, Wil­liam Sherman and Abraham Lincoln as exemplars of effective leadership, while panning fellow Yankee John McCler­nand and Confederate Generals John C. Pember­ton and Joseph E. Johnston.

There isn’t much here in terms of information and analysis that will be new to readers already familiar with Vicksburg and the commanders on both sides. Moreover, while the bibliography indicates Dougherty has consulted a respectable range of sources, he does not provide footnotes or endnotes to indicate the sources of particular information. Nevertheless, for those new to the Vicksburg Cam­paign, especially those with a taste for “lessons learned,” this will be a valuable book.
—Ethan S. Rafuse

To the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and Beyond, Benjamin Franklin Cooling, University of Tennessee Press, 2011, $45.95

After the war, Tennessee cavalryman Thomas Black Wilson declared, “I look on Fort Donelson as one of the most important battles of the war.” Benjamin Franklin Cooling, professor of history at the National Defense University, has spent much of his career corroborating the prescience of Black’s observation about this Union victory in early 1862 and the war in the Western Theater that followed. This triumphal volume concludes Cooling’s stellar trilogy detailing the war in Kentucky and Tennessee. He deftly combines the insights of a historian with the expertise of a national security analyst to portray vividly how the Confederacy’s hope for nationhood was shipwrecked in the rugged hills and rolling heartland of the Upper South.

Assessing the military situation after Ulysses S. Grant’s victory over Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga in November 1863, Cooling eloquently concludes that “dreams of ‘going back to Tennessee’ dissipated in the winter snows of north Georgia and became moot when spring blossoms presaged renewed Federal movements southward on the rail line to Atlanta as well as in Virginia.” Overly optimistic Rebel strategists lacked the men and materiel to throw the Federal juggernaut off balance and, Cooling concludes, “the Confederate moment had passed by May.”

But 16 months of hard fighting for the soldiers and severe economic deprivation for the civilians still lay ahead. Cooling punctuates his monograph with poignant anecdotes revealing how divided loyalties among the citizens of the two states made for tense and unsettled conditions behind the lines and Abraham Lincoln’s hopes of reintegrating areas occupied by Northern armies back into the Union remained unfulfilled.

Cooling also distinguishes himself as a master of battle narrative. His de­scriptions of the fighting at Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville are spirited and analytically insightful. This is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand why the war really was won in the West.
—Gordon Berg

The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War, James Robertson, National Geographic, 2011, $40

The first submarine to sink a ship—and then go down itself. The only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, and her medical colleague in the enemy camp who became the only woman to be commissioned an officer. Two dogs that were buried with military honors. Flags whose capture—or the prevention thereof—could earn a soldier the Medal of Honor, but the carrying of which could cost him his life. A food staple that either teemed with mold and worms or was, as one Pennsylvania in­fan­tryman noted, “almost as hard as a brick, and undoubtedly would keep
for years.”

These are just a handful of the vig­nettes, amid 475 photos and illustrations, James Robertson uses to present The Untold Civil War. Some of the stories and pictures will be familiar to most, but this sesquicentennial offering from the National Geographic Society abounds with others that may raise the eyebrows of even the most hard-core buff.

Given that Robertson is an eminent Civil War historian, it is surprising that a few missteps slip in. Jonathan Letter­man’s use of field ambulances for rapid evacuation of wounded, for example, was not an innovation of the American war—Dominique Jean Larrey introduced it on Napoleonic battlefields more than half a century earlier. Henry Heth’s stated desire to obtain shoes for his men ex­pressed an added benefit, not the causal objective, of the Battle of Gettysburg. The book’s strengths, however, lie in the lesser, more mundane facts of everyday life that remind the reader of who really fought the war: the ill-fitting shoes on which hundreds of thousands had to march millions of miles, the sacrifice of 2 million horses, the practice of wartime dentistry, the telegraph’s profound effect on both field communication and journalism, the treatment of black soldiers by both North and South that amounted to a national disgrace. Those and many more details serve to make The Untold Civil War live up to its title.
—Jon Guttman

The Campaigns for Vicksburg 1862-63: Leadership Lessons Kindle Edition

". written in a clear and lucid style. definitely about Leadership. And therefore I would recommend it as such the fact that the lessons are based on a fascinating part of a well known conflict is a bonus to those of us whose interests span the fields of military issue and personal self improvement!"-- "Wargamer"

". a splendid example of how military history manages to appeal to a broad audience and reach across the boundaries of traditional fields of interest. "-- "The Historian"

". far exceeds any other summary of similar length. well-written and useful to a wide variety of readers. cadets and midshipmen will garner a number of ideas and techniques to add to their own leadership toolboxes."-- Ȭivil War Book Review"

ȭougherty offers a thorough campaign history, a basic background to Civil War era military structure, and 30 instructional leadership vignettes. This not only familiarizes readers with the 'brilliant campaign of maneuver, ' but also highlights the campaign's many leadership lessons. . . . By presenting the Vicksburg Campaign in concise accounts and incorporating useful takeaways, Dougherty's work offers a clear decision-making guide and campaign history."-- "Military Review"

ȯive stars plus. a valuable addition to the study of leadership and Vicksburg. It would be an excellent study for business leaders as well as the professional officer and soldier. I recommend its addition to the personal library of all students of military science. My hope is it would be included in the reading lists of the officer basic or advanced courses. As in "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun", the lessons presented in "The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons" are timeless."-- "Kepler's Military History" --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Map American Civil War: Vicksburg Campaign, 1862-1863

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

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Edward Andrew Nationalism in Europe and America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775 By Lloyd Kramer (pages 215–216)

Douglas J. Forsyth Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World By Deirdre N. McCloskey (pages 217–218)

Robert Skidelsky Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics By Nicholas Wapshott (pages 218–219)

A siege

But tougher times lay ahead. During the night of April 30-May 1, 1863, General Grant crossed his army from Louisiana into Mississippi, and citizens in Vicksburg were on the verge of encountering Union troops.

Grant won the Battle of Port Gibson on May 1 and moved quickly inland, marching northeast toward Edwards and the Southern Railroad of Mississippi, the vital supply line that connected Vicksburg with Jackson and points east. Meanwhile, from May 12 to May 17, Union forces won a battle at Raymond, captured Jackson, and defeated General John C. Pemberton's main army at Champion Hill and the Big Black River. Pemberton retreated into Vicksburg and Grant followed.

So war on a large scale came to Vicksburg again, with the Union army arched around the city from north to east to south and the Union navy on the river. As Pemberton’s dispirited army came into Vicksburg, many women, children, and other noncombatants tried to leave, but with Confederate troops retreating into Vicksburg, and most of the roads out of town leading east into Grant’s army, many had to return.

Grant’s army tried twice to overwhelm Pemberton’s army, and, having failed, settled in for a siege that ultimately lasted 47 days. The siege had various impacts on the lives of people caught in the city. Upper-class white women often went from comfortable circumstances to deprivation and humiliation, lower-class white females went from not having much to having even less, and slave women went from a structured existence to uncertainty.

Whatever their station, the women who stayed in their hometown rather than escaping before Grant arrived struggled to survive. The women had to look out for themselves and try to keep their lives going while the war whirled around them. Their story is one of courage, sacrifice, and persistence. Their surviving letters and diaries tell stories of both physical and mental terror. Their story is one of courage, sacrifice, and persistence.

The Vicksburg Campaign : Strategy, Battles and Key Figures

Although the twin Federal victory at Gettysburg often captures more popular attention, many scholars consider Vicksburg to be the Civil War's decisive action. The Vicksburg Campaign builds on the campaign's well-established literature, including the author's Leadership Lessons: The Campaign for Vicksburg, 1862-63 (Casemate, 2011), to provide a readable narrative that synthesizes other scholarship. It is designed to be an introductory survey of the campaign for those new to the subject, as well as a convenient single-volume reference for the more seasoned reader.

Sufficient background information is contained in introductory chapters that identify the key Federal and Confederate players and the strategic setting that brought Vicksburg to the forefront of the Western Theater. The action is then traced from such early failed attempts as Farragut's navy only effort and Grant's series of canal schemes to the brilliant campaign of manoeuvre that left Pemberton besieged inside Vicksburg. In addition to the narrative account, The Vicksburg Campaign includes information about Vicksburg National Military Park, the Federal and Confederate Orders of Battle, and the Medal of Honor at Vicksburg as appendices.
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