Print this Page


Reading Book Guide

Triumph and Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vol. 2, by Terrence J. Winschel

Following up on the popular success of his earlier book of the same name, Terrence Winschel offers ten new chapters of insights into what has been declared by many to have been the most decisive campaign of the Civil War. Designed to appeal to both general readers and serious students, Winschel's essays cover a wide range of topics. We hope these thought-provoking questions, one for each of Winschel's ten essays, lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. In the opening chapter, Winschel discusses Grant's efforts to secure his beachhead on Mississippi soil. Did the Confederates err in not defending a line south of Big Black River? If so, what could Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton or his subordinates such as Maj. Gens. William W. Loring and Carter Stevenson, and Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen have done to contain Grant's movements south of Big Black River?
  2. Grant's "Blitzkrieg" deep into Mississippi was a key factor in achieving victory in the Vicksburg campaign. What elements of his operations reflect the Nine Principles of War and identify Grant as a modern warrior? (Those principles are: Objective, Offensive, Mass, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of Command, Security, Surprise, and Simplicity.)
  3. With the force that Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston had available to him for the defense of Jackson on May 14, and those expected to arrive in Jackson within 48 hours, could he or should he have made a determined defense of Mississippi's capital?
  4. It has been the fate of Maj. Gen. John McClernand to be maligned by historians and popular writers. After reading Winschel's essay "John A. McClernand: Fighting Politician," do you think the popular image of the Union general is valid?
  5. It has been said that "Mr. Lincoln's generals won the Civil War," but a growing number of historians suggest instead that it was his admirals. How significant was the contribution of the United States Navy during the Civil War and especially the role of the "brown water navy"?
  6. In no other American city were civilians subjected to the horrors of war as the people of Vicksburg. How did the story of the Lord family affect you?
  7. Jefferson Davis blamed Joseph E. Johnston for the loss of Vicksburg while Johnston blamed John C. Pemberton. Was relief of the Vicksburg garrison even possible?
  8. The destruction of Jackson in July 1863 evidenced that the war was taking a new turn and foreshadowed the implementation of total war. Was total war necessary to defeat the South?
  9. The author asserts that connection with the Trans-Mississippi region was vital to the life of the Confederacy. Do you agree with his assertion? If so, why? If not, why not?
  10. Former Confederate Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee played a leading role in the establishment of Vicksburg National Military Park. In your opinion, how important was the establishment of parks such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg in unifying a nation and its people? What role do these parks play in our society today and is it important that we continue to preserve these sites?