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The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 by John Horn

The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864

by John Horn

SiegeOfPetersburgWeldonRRBattlesHorn2015BTC’s Take: John Horn wrote a classic book on the Battles for the Weldon Railroad for the H. E. Howard series several decades ago to cover the Petersburg Portion of Grant’s Fourth Offensive against Petersburg.  Savas Beatie has partnered with Mr. Horn to bring out this revised and updated version of the book for the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Petersburg.

With The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, John Horn and Savas Beatie have produced a new and improved “150th Anniversary Edition” of the author’s earlier work on the August 1864 battles at the Siege of Petersburg.  Horn covers Grant’s Fourth Offensive against Petersburg, the longest and one of the two bloodiest of the nine attempts against the Cockade City.  The new book includes a beefed up section on the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, increased first person accounts from the soldiers who were there, and new and improved maps by Hampton Newsome, among other things. Take it all together, and both those who have the first edition and readers new to these fights will all want to own the new version.

John Horn’s claim that his second edition work on Grant’s Fourth Offensive is “new and improved” appears to be fully backed up and then some.  Readers will find more and better maps, a beefed up section on the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, and more analysis of the leadership at all levels.  Horn’s masterful understanding of the Fourth Offensive allowed the author to provide convincing new conclusions about Second Ream’s Station, and his analysis of the three (non-consecutive) days of battle at Globe Tavern deserves notice here.  I won’t give it away here, but his conclusions about Warren and Hancock in this edition, including their roles in the fighting and their evaluation by Grant and Meade may raise some eyebrows but seem to be well-backed by the evidence.  His conclusions about the respective fighting qualities of the two sides were also extremely interesting and helped explain the results of these three battles.  Students of the Civil War, especially those interested in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, should absolutely buy this new book.  Horn’s volume on the Fourth Offensive confidently stands alongside Sommers on the Fifth, Newsome on the Sixth, and Greene on the Ninth.

Book Summary/Review:

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      Publisher Info:

      “A superior piece of Civil War scholarship.” – Edwin C. Bearss, former Chief Historian of the United States National Park Service and award-winning author.

      The nine-month siege of Petersburg was the longest continuous operation of the American Civil War. A series of large-scale Union “offensives,” grand maneuvers that triggered some of the fiercest battles of the war, broke the monotony of static trench warfare. Grant’s Fourth Offensive, August 14-25, the longest and bloodiest operation of the campaign, is the subject of John Horn’s revised and updated Sesquicentennial edition of The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.

      Frustrated by his inability to break through the Southern front, General Grant devised a two-punch combination strategy in an effort to sever the crucial Weldon Railroad and stretch General Lee’s lines. The plan called for Winfield Hancock’s II Corps (with X Corps) to move against Deep Bottom north of the James River to occupy Confederate attention while Warren’s V Corps, supported by elements of IX Corps, marched south and west below Petersburg toward Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad. The move triggered the battles of Second Deep Bottom, Globe Tavern, and Second Reams Station, bitter fighting that witnessed fierce Confederate counterattacks and additional Union operations against the railroad before Grant’s troops dug in and secured their hold on Globe Tavern. The end result was nearly 15,000 killed, wounded, and missing, the severing of the railroad, and the jump-off point for what would be Grant’s Fifth Offensive in late September.

      Revised and updated for this special edition, Horn’s outstanding tactical battle study emphasizes the context and consequences of every action and is supported by numerous maps and grounded in hundreds of primary sources. Unlike many battle accounts, Horn puts Grant’s Fourth Offensive into its proper perspective not only in the context of the Petersburg Campaign and the war, but in the context of the history of warfare.

      Hardcover Edition

      ISBN: 978-1-61121-216-7

      Publisher: Savas Beatie

      Release Date: February 2015

      Pages: 336 pages

      The Siege of Petersburg Online Pages Which Mention This Book:

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