Roughshod Through Dixie: Grierson’s Raid 1863
By Mark Lardas
(December 2010 Civil War News)
Illustrated, photographs, maps, bibliography, index, 80 pp., 2010, Osprey, www.ospreypublishing.com, $18.95, softcover.
Benjamin Grierson’s Mississippi Raid, part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign deceptions, may have been the most effective strategic cavalry raid of the Civil War. Part of Osprey’s Raid Series on small-unit actions, this little book successfully captures the essence of Grierson’s Raid.
With a mere 1,700 troopers, Grierson wreaked havoc throughout Mississippi on the eve of Grant’s crossing of the Mississippi and his successful campaign against Vicksburg.
The Union invaders fully occupied all of Confederate commander John Pemberton’s cavalry and diverted thousands of infantrymen away from Vicksburg. Meanwhile Grant successfully crossed the river to Bruinsburg, Mississippi.
Destruction of railroads, locomotives, rolling stock and munitions provided additional benefits. As the book’s “Analysis” chapter points out, Grierson’s Raid demonstrated the growing power of Union cavalry and was a significant Union morale-builder.
The analysis provides a thoughtful comparison of Grierson’s Raid with a much less successful, contemporaneous diversionary raid led by Abel D. Streight.
There are some nettlesome errors in the text. Grant did not land at Grand Gulf or Port Hudson. After landing at Bruinsburg, he headed northeast toward Jackson, not north to Vicksburg. The Peninsular Campaign was not in 1863. The Republican Party was not formed in 1856.
“East” and “west” are mixed up in a couple of places. The same railroad is called the Gulf and Ohio in most of the text but is shown as the Mobile and Ohio on the book’s primary map. The lack of footnotes or endnotes casts doubt on some of the author’s assertions.
Despite these issues, this book is recommended for those interested in Grierson’s Raid, the Vicksburg Campaign or Union cavalry.
Reviewer: Edward H. Bonekemper III
Book Review Editor Ed Bonekemper, adjunct military history lecturer at Muhlenberg College, is the author of four Civil War books.