One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864
One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864

One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864

by Gary Dillard Joiner, Gary Dillard Joiner


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In the spring of 1864, as the armies of Grant and Lee waged a highly scrutinized and celebrated battle for the state of Virginia, a no- less important, but historically obscured engagement was being conducted in the pine barrens of northern Louisiana. In a year of stellar triumphs by Union armies across the South, the Red River Campaign stands out as a colossal failure. General William Tecumseh Sherman's scathing summation describes it best, 'One damn blunder from beginning to end.'

Taking its title from Sherman's blunt description, One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864 is a fresh inspection of what was the Civil War's largest operation between the Union Army and Navy west of the Mississippi River. In a bold, but poorly managed effort to wrest Louisiana and Texas from Confederate control, a combined force of 40,000 Union troops and 60 naval vessels traveled up the twisting Red River in an attempt to capture the capital city of Shreveport.

Gary D. Joiner provides not a recycled telling of the campaign, but a strategic and tactical overview based on a stunning new array of facts gleaned from recently discovered documents. This never-before-published information reveals that the Confederate army had laid a clever trap by engineering a drop in the water level of the Red River to try to maroon the Union naval flotilla. Only the equally amazing ingenuity of the Union troops saved the fleet from certain destruction, despite a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Mansfield.

The Red River campaign had lasting implications. One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End magnifies just how devastating the diversion of so many men and so much material to this failed campaign was to the Union effort in the pivotal year of 1864. Because of the Union Army's failures, Northern plans to capture Mobile were scrapped. Military careers were made and lost. And at time when the Confederacy was teetering on the brink of oblivion, Southern morale was bolstered.

Joiner puts together a compelling description of what was one of the most important military operations conducted west of the Mississippi. The fierce military action, the squabbling of the leaders on both sides, and most importantly, essential new knowledge of the Confederate defensive preparations are all contained in the pages of this new book.

Civil War buffs and military enthusiasts will revel in this in-depth look at this critical, but previously overlooked campaign.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780842029360
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 01/28/2003
Series: American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era Series
Pages: 198
Product dimensions: 6.26(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Gary Dillard Joiner is instructor of history and director of the Red River Regional Studies Center at Louisiana State University.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Strategic Positions prior to the Campaign Chapter 2 Confederate Defenses on the Red River, 1863-64 Chapter 3 Preparations Chapter 4 Anabasis Chapter 5 Through the Howling Wilderness Chapter 6 I Will Fight Banks If He Has a Million Men Chapter 7 The Safety of Our Whole Country Depends upon It Chapter 8 Steele's Dilemma Chapter 9 Katabasis Chapter 10 Colonel Bailey's Dam Chapter 11 Requiem for a Blunder

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