Ninety-Eight Days: Geography, Strategy, Politics, and Command During the Vicksburg Campaign

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Grabau, Winschel
Pub Date:
March 2024
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Hardcover, 6 x 9
Photos, maps, 728 pp
Signed bookplates:
By Terry Winschel (Foreword)


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About the Book

U. S. Grant's campaign against Vicksburg has been studied from a number of perspectives, but never like this one by Warren E. Grabau. This incredible study of the final phases of the Vicksburg Campaign, from March 29 through July 4, 1863, examines the actions of Union and Confederate commanders as they unfolded, reconstructing their decisions based only on what they knew at any given time.

In meticulous detail, Grabau describes the logistical situation at key junctures and explains how and why those situations constrained the choices available to Grant and Confederate commander John C. Pemberton. The author alternates between Confederate and Federal perspectives and allows the reader to understand fully the situation as the commanders did and then describes how the available information led to their decisions.

Grabau examines not only topographic and hydrographic features but also strategic, political, economic, and demographic factors that influenced the commanders’ thinking. He analyzes the effectiveness of the intelligence-gathering capabilities of each side, shows how the decisions of both commanders were affected by the presence of the Union Navy, and describes the impact of political philosophies and command structures on the conduct of the campaign. Through his detailed analysis, Grabau even suggests that Grant had no actual campaign plan but was instead a master opportunist, able to exploit every situation.

68 detailed original maps reconstruct the terrain as it was at the time and demonstrate how incomplete data often resulted in poor military decisions. Other material includes Command Structures of the Federal and Confederate Forces in diagrammatic form as they stood at the beginning of the ninety-eight days.

Ninety-eight Days is a monumental work masterfully executed, a reconstruction of military reasoning that is more analytical than any previous study of Vicksburg. It contributes substantially to our understanding of those military operations and demonstrates how crucial geography is to the conduct of war. 


Warren E. Grabau was a retired geologist with a life-long interest in the Civil War. He held BS and MS degrees in geology from Michigan State University. Warren was the coauthor of two earlier books: "Evolution of Geomorphology: A Nation-by-Nation Summary of Development" (with H. J. Walker), and "The Battle of Jackson, May 14, 1863" (with Edwin C. Bearss). He passed away in 2008 at the age of 89.