MEETING: 331st
May 10, 2017

SPEAKER:  Donald S. Frazier, Ph.D.

Dr. Frazier is Chair of the Department of History and Adjunct Professor of History at McMurray University, Abilene, Texas. He received a B.A. Degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and M.A. and Ph.D Degrees from Texas Christian University. He has written many articles and books including

Blood on the Bayou: Vicksburg, Port Hudson and the Trans Mississippi, Thunder across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, and Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas.

Dr. Frazier is President of the McWhiney Foundation and received the Dallas Civil War Roundtable’s Grady McWhiney Award of Merit in 2003.

TOPIC: Do Something: The Campaigns to Save Vicksburg and Port Hudson

When US troops under U.S. Grant and N. P. Banks trapped two Confederate armies, one at Vicksburg and one at Port Hudson, the government in Richmond had few ideas about how to respond. Their most trusted general, Robert E. Lee, advised against moving elements of his army to the Mississippi Valley, but promised a campaign into the northern states as a distraction. The only help for their trapped comrades would be a hastily thrown together force from the Army of Tennessee . . . or from the Trans-Mississippi. General Joseph E. Johnston headed toward the crisis, scraping together a force to threaten the Union siege lines. Eventually, he felt powerless to intervene. All he could do was send a dispatch to Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith to “do something.”

That, though, would prove tougher than anyone thought. Kirby Smith’s most capable lieutenant, General Richard Taylor, had a risky idea, if only someone would listen . . .

The presentation will cover Trans-MIssissippi Confederate efforts to lift the sieges of Vicksburg and Port Hudson in a long-odds, desperate gamble to change the military equation in the Mississippi Valley. Cavalry raids, ambushes, and improvisations turned the campaign into a bold example of Rebel ingenuity.

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