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At noon on Wednesday, July 17, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Timothy B. Smith will discuss his new book The Real Horse Soldiers: Benjamin Grierson’s Epic 1863 Civil War Raid through Mississippi.

Grierson’s Union cavalry thrust through Mississippi is one of the best-known operations of the Civil War. Intending to distract Confederate attention from the real threat posed by Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, Grierson led pursuers on a high-stakes chase across the entire state for 17 days in the spring of 1863.

“The daily rides were long, the rest stops short, and the tension high,” said Smith. “Throughout, Grierson displayed outstanding leadership and cunning, destroyed railroad tracks, burned trestles and bridges, freed slaves, and created as much damage and chaos as possible.”

Grierson’s Raid broke a vital Confederate rail line and consumed the attention of the Confederate high command. “In the meantime, Grant moved his entire Army of the Tennessee across the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, spelling the doom of that city, the Confederate chances of holding the river, and perhaps the Confederacy itself,” said Smith.

John F. Marszalek, executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University, wrote that “major Civil War author Timothy B. Smith has done it again. He insightfully sheds important light on U. S. Grant’s use of Union cavalryman Benjamin Grierson’s speed and stealth to confuse the Confederates and help him capture Vicksburg. Another well-researched and well-written military history by one of the nation’s leading Civil War historians.”

Timothy B. Smith is a veteran of the National Park Service and currently teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He earned his PhD from Mississippi State University in 2001 and is the author, editor, or co-editor of eighteen books, including Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg and Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation. He is at work on a book about the May 19 and 22 Vicksburg assaults.

The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium in the Two Mississippi Museums--the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum--located at 222 North Street, Jackson. There is no charge to attend. Copies of the book will be for sale. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email


July 24—James Pate will present "Pickett’s History of Mississippi.” Sales and signing to follow.

July 31—Tom Howorth will present "Frederick A.P. Barnard: the Man and the Observatory.”

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