Winner, 2014, The Douglas Southall Freeman Award
The wide-ranging and largely ignored operations around Petersburg, Virginia, were the longest and most extensive of the entire Civil War. The fighting began in June of 1864, when advance elements from the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and botched a series of attacks against a thinly defended city. The fighting ended nine long months later in the first days of April of 1865. In Volume I of The Petersburg Campaign, legendary historian Edwin C. Bearss detailed the first six major engagements on the “Eastern Front,” from the initial attack on the city on June 9 through the Second Battle of Ream’s Station on August 25, 1864. In Volume II, Bearss turns his attention and pen to the final half-dozen large-scale combats in The Petersburg Campaign: The Western Front Battles, September 1864 – April 1865.
Although commonly referred to as the “Siege of Petersburg,” the city (as well as the Confederate capital at Richmond) was never fully isolated and the combat involved much more than static trench warfare. In fact, much of the wide-ranging fighting involved massive multi-corps Union offensives designed to cut important roads and rail lines feeding Petersburg and Richmond. This second installment includes these major battles:
- Peebles’ Farm (September 29 – October 1, 1864)
- Burgess Mill (October 27, 1864)
- Hatcher’s Run (February 5 – 7, 1865)
- Fort Stedman (March 25, 1865)
- Five Forks Campaign (March 29 – April 1, 1865)
- The Sixth Corps Breaks Lee’s Petersburg Lines (April 2, 1865)
Accompanying these salient chapters are two dozen original maps by Civil War cartographer George Skoch, coupled with photos and illustrations. Taken together, these two volumes present the most comprehensive and thorough understanding of the major military episodes comprising the fascinating 'Petersburg Campaign'.
|Product dimensions:||8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.70(d)|
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The nearly 10 month Siege of Petersburg took place after the Overland campaign and eventually lead to the evacuation of Petersburg on April 2, 1965, the Confederates unsuccessful effort to get around and move south of Grant’s pursuing Federals, the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, the fall of Richmond and the end of the American Civil War. Grant lead eight offensive actions against Southern positions during this campaign. Three of the attacks were direct assaults on Rebel works, while five of the maneuvers were attempts to cut the rail lines that provided important supplies to Petersburg and Richmond. Very little scholarship has been published on the entire campaign except for a few books on the Crater and specific battles. One of the reasons for being overlooked is due to its length, the fall of Atlanta and the re-election of Abraham Lincoln. The Petersburg Campaign: Volume 2: The Western Front Battles, September 1864-April 1865 written by Edwin C. Bearss with the assistance of Bryce A. Suderow is an important second volume of this tome that examines the following important battles: Peebles’ Farm (September 29- October 1, 1864); Burgess Mill (October 27, 1864); Hatcher’s Run (February 5-7, 1865); Fort Steadman (March 25, 1865); Five Forks Campaign ( March 29- April 1, 1865) and The Sixth Corps Breaks Lee’s Petersburg Lines (April 2, 1865) and chronicles the last six months of the campaign. The text was written almost 50 years ago with the approach of the Civil War Centennial. The final reports and maps that included the troop movements were finalized and accepted in 1964. The series of researched essays were ultimately stored in the parks library and made available to interested students and researchers. Suderow edited the original research and provided introductions and conclusions for each chapter. This American icon has indicated that his research was written as an internal document and its purpose concerned the troop movements and fighting of the various battles. It is written based on official records plus regimentals, diaries, etc. that were published before July 1964. Perhaps his efforts have sparked additional interest and further opportunities of study for others as well as elevating Petersburg to one of the most studied and well thought of battle campaigns. Savas Beatie published this marvelous 600 page title in 2014. Civil War cartographer George Skoch has provided twenty five maps that greatly enrich this study. Included are photographs, illustrations, below page notes, a bibliography and index as well as an afterword that details effects of the campaign. The foremost authority on the Civil War has provided a book with a great deal of research and has demonstrated a knowledge that is rarely provided in any publication. It is fascinating that Bearss and Suderow have ascertained that Grant never had a master plan to seize Petersburg but often made his plans spur of the moment. Additionally, they have shown how Lee extended the war by conducting a brilliant defensive effort, but once he was immobilized in the trenches he had no hope of victory in this conflict. Finally, the insight of how important Spencer repeating rifles had on fighting at times. This wonderful Civil War historian has provided a complete and detailed study that has provided scholars and serious students will something to utilize and learn from. Armchair students and battlefield trampers will benefit from reading this readable, balanced, illuminating and important effort. This reviewer highly recommends this volume and suggests that Civil War buffs add this book to their library.