by Edward Boykin
BTC’s Take: This book focuses on Hampton’s Beefsteak Raid, in which he stole Union cattle from near City Point in an expedition which lasted from September 14-17, 1864. Boykin starts the book off as Grant’s Union armies cross the James, and provides some color on the personalities which figured prominently in the raid on both sides. He uses some literary license to create conversations between soldiers and civilians, especially when it comes to Scout George Shadburne and his relationship with Molly Tatum, a girl who lived in the Blackwater swamp near where the cattle were ultimately “lifted” from the Federals by Hampton’s veterans. This book contained no notes, but Boykin does seem to have read and utilized the Official Records, regimental sources in the National Archives, and quite a few primary sources published prior to the book’s release in 1960. Boykin was able to obtain the unpublished diary of August V. Kautz, the Federal cavalry division commander opposing Hampton during the raid. Boykin, in my opinion, gives Meade too much of the blame for the Federal failure to guard the cattle. His analysis is mainly “Grant good, Meade bad,” which is way too simplistic. Grant was away when the cattle were stolen, but he was responsible for the size of the small force guarding the cattle and their location. It wasn’t the Army of the Potomac’s cattle herd, and the cavalry guarding the cattle belonged to the Army of the James. How Meade can be primarily blamed for this is beyond me. All in all, if you can find this book at a reasonable price, it does a fairly solid job of describing Hampton’s Beefsteak Raid in a readable way. That, and it is literally the only book, modern or otherwise, which has as its main focus this operation.
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Sources:
None available. Published in 1960.
Publisher: Funk and Wagnall’s
Release Date: 1960
The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater Pages Which Mention This Book: