Thursday, December 26, 2019

Donald L. Miller

Donald L. Miller is the New York Times bestselling author of ten books, the John Henry MacCracken Emeritus Professor of History at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and one of the most respected authorities on World War II, the Civil War, and Modern US History. His latest book is Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy.

From Miller's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write about Vicksburg in your new book?

A: In the public imagination, it’s vastly overshadowed by Gettysburg in the war. I became convinced the war was won in the West, and that starts with control of the Mississippi River, which was very important. And Grant emerges as the general who will win the war.

In the East, the battles were episodic—a huge three-day shootout and then months [of relative quiet]. Grant’s idea was fighting incessantly. He did that at Vicksburg, and then took the fight to the East. He became the general in charge after Vicksburg. Mississippi, Louisiana, parts of Tennessee were out of the war. He freed over 100,000 slaves. That’s the least-known aspect of the story.

In a sense Grant becomes to the slaves of the area the Great Liberator, not Lincoln. The Emancipation Proclamation was on the books, but could only be enforced by the armies of the North. The slaves in Maryland and Delaware were not freed. You had to be fighting for the Confederacy for slaves in that state to be freed.

There was a siege, there were great characters, there were women living in caves. It’s an interesting way to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue