Our speaker tonight is Dave Bastian, the author of Grant's Canal; the Union's Attempt to Bypass Vicksburg (now out of print). He has given his presentations to over 90 CWRTs. Tonight’s presentation, based upon his book, is about the two Union campaigns against Vicksburg. It focuses on the efforts to divert the Mississippi River away from Vicksburg by digging a canal across the narrow bend opposite the town. Had the Union succeeded, they would have had immediate and complete control of the river (definitely in the summer of 1862 and possibly in the winter of 1863). The presentation explores Vicksburg's geographical importance and the topographical characteristics that made it so defensible.
Most books are a new twist on a battle, campaign or leader. His book and presentation are about a totally new topic; one that historians have really not understood to date. As a civil engineer who lived in Vicksburg, he understands the river and how close the Union came in succeeding. Had they succeeded, Vicksburg would no longer have been an important target.
This was an engineering project - diverting the Mighty Mississippi! - an engineering solution to a military problem.
Dave has a degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and a masters in river engineering from Delft University in the Netherlands. Of interest, he was a delegate to the tri-national Commission for the Study of Alternatives to the Panama Canal that produced the feasibility study for the Canal’s current enlargement. More recently he worked on the post-Katrina levee rebuild in New Orleans and co-authored a book that came out in 2014, New Orleans, Hurricanes from the Start.
His book, Grant's Canal, the Union's Attempt to Bypass Vicksburg is out of print but available on Amazon & Ebay.