by Charles R. Bowery, Jr.
BTC’s Take: I sadly completely missed the publication of this book, a title in the Battles and Leaders of the American Civil War series, when it came out in 2014. I did manage to cover the OTHER Petersburg book Bowery wrote, that one edited with Ethan Rafuse, an entry in the U.S. Army War College Guide series, entitled Guide to the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. This book is a short (less than 200 pages!) look at the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, seeking to summarize the latest scholarship on the events of this penultimate campaign in the east. Bowery focuses on “strategic, operational, and tactical decisions” as well as “new military history”. Given the space in which he had to work, I thought the author did an excellent job of writing a very effective synthesis of the events of these 9 and a half months. If you are just getting into the study of this complex campaign, this is a great place to start. In addition, two of the foremost students of the campaign, Chris Calkins and Wil Greene, give enthusiastic blurbs on the back cover.
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Sources:
A compelling narrative of one of the Civil War’s most pivotal campaigns in which Federal armies drove Robert E. Lee’s army to the brink of defeat in April 1865.
The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign lasted for ten months, the longest in any theater of the war, and dwarfed all of the war’s other campaigns for length of sustained combat, distances covered by the opposing forces, number of troops deployed, and number of battles and engagements. Yet this military operation has traditionally received little attention from scholars, considering its importance in bringing the war to an end. This concise reference analyzes the grueling 1864–65 campaign, particularly its strategic, operational, and tactical decisions, which shaped the course and outcome of the war.
The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign affected every segment of American society, bringing the impact of the war home to soldiers and civilians alike. General Ulysses S. Grant’s armies employed more African Americans than in any other Civil War campaign, and their contributions were critical to Union victory. In an indication of the decisive importance of the campaign, the Confederacy took the unimaginable step of attempting to arm slaves for military service.
A historian and lifelong resident of Virginia, Charles R. Bowery Jr. combines a vivid narrative, in-depth character study, and technical aspects of warfare to describe the human drama of one of the Civil War’s most complex, decisive, and fascinating conflicts. This riveting account reveals how, in spite of the exceptional commands of leaders Grant and Lee, both sides suffered from personal rivalries, questions of honor, ineffective organization, and poor communication. The book concludes with an assessment of the mixed performances of both armies, the factors that influenced the outcome, and the campaign’s role in ending the Civil War.
- Addresses the concerns of the New Military History, including the impact of the battles on common soldiers, civilians of all races, and the environment
- Provides driving directions to various campaign sites, along with suggested itineraries to encourage historical tourism
- Includes maps of the various engagements to encourage further research into significant events
Publisher: Praeger Publishers
Release Date: July 2014
The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater Pages Which Mention This Book: