Storming Vicksburg

Grant, Pemberton, and the Battles of May 19-22, 1863

By Earl J. Hess

400 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 halftones, 16 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6017-2
    Published: October 2020
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8410-9
    Published: August 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6018-9
    Published: September 2020
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5113-0
    Published: September 2020

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The most overlooked phase of the Union campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, was the time period from May 18 to May 25, 1863, when Ulysses S. Grant closed in on the city and attempted to storm its defenses. Federal forces mounted a limited attack on May 19 and failed to break through Confederate lines. After two days of preparation, Grant's forces mounted a much larger assault. Although the Army of the Tennessee had defeated Confederates under John C. Pemberton at Champion Hill on May 16 and Big Black River on May 17, the defenders yet again repelled Grant's May 22 attack. The Gibraltar of the Confederacy would not fall until a six-week siege ended with Confederate surrender on July 4.

In Storming Vicksburg, military historian Earl J. Hess reveals how a combination of rugged terrain, poor coordination, and low battlefield morale among Union troops influenced the result of the largest attack mounted by Grant's Army of the Tennessee. Using definitive research in unpublished personal accounts and other underutilized archives, Hess makes clear that events of May 19–22 were crucial to the Vicksburg campaign's outcome and shed important light on Grant's generalship, Confederate defensive strategy, and the experience of common soldiers as an influence on battlefield outcomes.

About the Author

Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History at Lincoln Memorial University and award-winning author of many books on the Civil War, including, most recently, Fighting for Atlanta: Tactics, Terrain, and Trenches in the Civil War.

For more information about Earl J. Hess, visit the Author Page.


"Has deservedly reached the apex of Vicksburg scholarship to date and does justice to its author's historical acumen. Highly recommended for all U.S. Middle Period and Civil War historians and biographers, together with students of military command and field strategy."—Library Journal, starred review

Storming Vicksburg is based upon a large and richly diverse collection of primary and secondary sources. This mountain of material is skillfully incorporated into a comprehensive narrative account of the fighting, one that assesses the full breadth of command decisions and vividly records battlefield experiences of all ranks on both sides.”—Civil War Books and Authors

“There is much to admire. . . . All in all, this is a fine work.”—Emerging Civil War

“Exceptional. . . . [T]horoughly researched and provide[s] detailed and compelling accounts of the battles of May 19 and 22 from the perspectives of both the high commands and the men at the proverbial tip of the spear.”—Journal of Southern History

Storming Vicksburg is a masterpiece from an exceptional historian.”—North Carolina Historical Review

"Storming Vicksburg tells the story of the most decisive struggle of the Civil War in vast detail and a splendid sweep of analysis." —Steven E. Woodworth, author of The Great Struggle: America's Civil War