The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth / Edition 1

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During the late summer of 1862, Confederate forces attempted a three-pronged strategic advance into the North. The outcome of this offensive—the only coordinated Confederate attempt to carry the conflict to the enemy—was disastrous. The results at Antietam and in Kentucky are well known; the third offensive, the northern Mississippi campaign, led to the devastating and little-studied defeats at Iuka and Corinth, defeats that would open the way for Grant's attack on Vicksburg.

Peter Cozzens presents here the first book-length study of these two complex and vicious battles. Drawing on extensive primary research, he details the tactical stories of Iuka—where nearly one-third of those engaged fell—and Corinth—fought under brutally oppressive conditions—analyzing troop movements down to the regimental level. He also provides compelling portraits of Generals Grant, Rosecrans, Van Dorn, and Price, exposing the ways in which their clashing ambitions and antipathies affected the outcome of the campaign. Finally, he draws out the larger, strategic implications of the battles of Iuka and Corinth, exploring their impact on the fate of the northern Mississippi campaign, and by extension, the fate of the Confederacy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A tightly written, fast-paced, well-reasoned narrative that is solidly researched .

Journal of Southwest Georgia History"

The Darkest Days of the War easily qualifies as the definitive work on this campaign.

Blue & Gray

"The Darkest Days of the War will surely be the definitive work on these sadly overlooked but interesting and significant campaigns.

Earl J. Hess, Civil War History"

"A perceptive, balanced survey of the battles at Iuka and Corinth in Mississippi.

The State (Columbia, SC)"

"An excellent case study of how army politics, miscommunication, and missed chances could decisively influence a campaign.

Kirkus Reviews"

KLIATT - Raymond Puffer
The battles of Iuka and Corinth admittedly weren't the most significant conflicts of the Civil War, and truth to tell even most historians would have to pause for a moment before recalling them. It is true that the Confederates were indeed turned back, but even a complete victory would only have delayed somewhat General Grant's determination to strangle Vicksburg. And even though the Union's General Rosecrans won, the encounters in northeastern Mississippi only accelerated the downward slope of his career. Why then write a book on these obscure episodes? Independent scholar Peter Cozzens bravely admits that one reason was that they have been neglected by researchers and historians. More to the point, however, they also bring attention to a murky phase of the war, and highlight the personalities of the leaders involved on both sides. This is useful, because those who begin to study America's Civil War soon run into an awkward situation. The great battles and troop movements in the eastern states—Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg—are all straightforward, easy to find on maps, and simple to relate to the conflict's "big picture." The same is true of the Mississippi Valley campaign that cut the Confederacy in two. But the large core of the central Confederacy that lay between the two major theaters of war is not so easy to digest. It was a great featureless region of few resources and little strategic value, hosting a mishmash of minor campaigns undertaken by quarrelsome, second-rate generals. All the more reason, then, for this well-done account. Cozzens writes a dynamic narrative filled with real people fighting a typical war: soldiers marching and gossiping while their officerspuzzled over bad maps and scanty intelligence reports, wondering just what the enemy was up to. This is an appealing read, but not always a brisk one. YA readers can easily omit some chapters devoted to the eternal bickering among generals, and to the minutiae of small units being sent back and forth over back roads. The rest of the book is a fascinating insight into the way the Civil War was really fought: i.e., in boredom, confusion, and sudden drama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807857830
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/2006
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 687,121
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Cozzens, author of several acclaimed Civil War campaign studies, is an independent scholar and Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State.

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