Grant Rises in the West: The First Year, 1861-1862, and from Iuka to Vicksburg, 1862-1863
Kohlwes, Wayne, Military Review
GRANT RISES IN THE WEST: The First Year, 1861-1862, and From luka to Vicksburg, 1862-1863, by Kennet P. Williams. Vol. 1, 585 pages; Vol. 2, 615 pages. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE. 1997. $25.00 each.
These two volumes are reprints of two volumes from Kenneth P. Williams' seminal work Lincoln Finds a General (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1950). Mark Grimsley's and Brooks D. Simpson's introductions provide a succinct overview of Williams' strengths and weaknesses as a historian and of his treatment of Ulysses S. Grant. For Williams, Grant was the general of the Civil War-the one by which all others are to be measured. For a more balanced treatment of Grant's virtues and faults a reader must look elsewhere.
That being said, the two books' merits are considerable. Williams' breadth and depth of detail, with analysis, of the Western Campaign can only be described as awesome. The reader is taken across the panorama of a vast theater that stretched from the Cumberland Gap in Tennessee to the Kansas prairies and involved two major as well as several minor battles.
Williams does not spend much time describing actual battles. He builds a rich mosaic from the events that influenced the where and when of major actions as well as some events that may have been mere distractions. The narrative is larded with the real business of organizing, equipping, training and campaigning with a citizen army. Williams details the administration of these armies, the development and operation of a logistics system and the oversight of a civilian population that varied from being friendly, hostile or mixed. …