Echoes from the Battle of Galveston had barely faded before a new Federal offensive began rolling down the banks of the Mississippi River. General Ulysses S. Grant, intent on reducing the Confederate citadel at Vicksburg, began looking for ways to reduce the fortress and return control of the mightiest of American rivers to northern control. Downstream in New Orleans, General Nathaniel P. Banks received orders to cooperate however he could in this effort, but faced challenges of his own, blocked by the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson. The problem facing Union war planners seemed nearly intractable.
Both of these Confederate positions had key vulnerabilities. Both garrisons depended heavily on supplies thrown across the Mississippi from sources in Louisiana and Texas, and the task fell to the United States Navy to cut off this stream of cattle and corn. The ensuing campaign to interdict these rations turned into one of the most massive raids in Civil War history, involving tens of thousands of Union foot soldiers and cavalry and scores of warships and transports, plunging Louisiana into the pit of a destructive war that wrecked everything in its path. When General Banks launched his campaign up Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana, Confederates in the region faced the greatest challenge yet to their claims of independence and experienced for the first time the true devastation of war and the consequences of rebellion.
Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February–May 1863 is the second of the four books in Donald S. Frazier’s highly acclaimed Louisiana Quadrille. In this fast-paced narrative, readers ride along with gunboat skippers in duels along the Mississippi, trot along with cavalrymen as they slash their way through enemy lines, experience the dust and confusion of infantry assaults, and mourn with Louisiana, Texas, and New England families that watch their property and families destroyed by civil war. Most students of this national calamity may believe they know well the campaigns on the Mississippi; Thunder Across the Swamp promises to fill in the less well-known story of the fight to control the west bank during the crucial campaigns of 1863.
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Published by State House Press