After more than three years of patiently adding an official report or two a day, always trying to stay about a month ahead, I’ve finished adding all of the official reports on the Siege of Petersburg found in Volumes 40 (June 15 to July 31, 1864), 42 (August 1 to December 31, 1864), and 46 (January 1, 1865 to April 9, 1865) of the Official Records.
This completes a massive step in this project, one I was determined to finish before moving in other directions. Some of you may be asking, why go through all of this trouble? My answer is that the Official Records, especially the reports, should be the base from which someone starts their Civil War research. I wanted to include this base in full on my site in order to be sure all of the internal links I’m building don’t lead to some 404 error eventually if a site I had chosen to link to instead went “poof”, as so many sites are prone to do, no matter how well-intentioned. I now have that base in its entirety, with metadata on pages written into each post, report by report.
Now to the “Sort Of” comment in the title. There is more to be done with the Official Records, including:
- Adding the scattered information on the Siege of Petersburg found in reports located in Volume 36 of the Official Records
- Adding the scattered information on the Siege of Petersburg found in reports located in supplemental Volume 52 of the Official Records
- Adding the reports located in Broadfoot Publishing’s Supplement to the Official Records, IF I can ever get my hands on a copy of the proper Volume and IF I can gain the rights to republish those reports, both massive IFs.
- Finding any other unpublished reports located in archives around the country or elsewhere, transcribing them, and placing them on this site. This is an unlikely one considering the amount of work which went into Broadfoot’s Supplement mentioned above.
- Going through every last one of the reports one by one, correcting any transcription errors, adding the proper detailed battle, name, location, etc. tags to each report post, and taking any information learned in each post and applying it to the proper unit and location pages as notes.
- Determining whether or not I want to do this on an even larger scale by adding the six parts of Correspondence found in Volumes 40, 42, and 46. I honestly have decided not to do this for quite some time and focus on fleshing out the site in time for the June 2014 Sesquicentennial. After the sesquicentennial ends in April 2015, I may decide to go back in this direction.
So what else is in store? As I’ve mentioned before, you’ll be seeing:
- multiple new unit pages appearing each day, one Union and one Confederate, until every unit which fought at the Siege of Petersburg has its own unit page
- continued additions of hard to find primary source material from newspapers, letters, diaries, 19th century magazines, etc.
- new bibliography posts, focusing on adding unit histories for regiments and batteries which fought at the Siege of Petersburg
- book reviews of Civil War books focusing on the Siege of Petersburg. There are quite a few in the pipeline as I write this.
- hopefully the start of some original articles written by me and utilizing the materials I’ve been able to collect since 2005
- the start of leader bibliographies. My hope is to write a bibliography for every identified commander of a unit from Army down to regimental/battery/battalion level at the Siege of Petersburg. Obviously this is a massive task. I don’t expect to finish anytime soon, but half the fun is in the research and trying to tie together and follow interesting threads. This research will spin off other original articles. Last month, for instance, I read a Facebook post by Andy Etman discussing the death of Confederate General Archibald Gracie at the Siege of Petersburg. Scott Mingus chimed in and mentioned that his son survived the Titanic disaster in April 1912 b y swimming to a lifeboat. This is precisely the type of interesting thread I hope to follow in the future.
- Creating orders of battle for offensives three through nine and finishing the orders of battle I have started for the first and second offensives. I’ll need to change the way I’ve been doing this due to the massive size this site will grow to if I continue to use WordPress pages to create these OOBs. I’ve decided to move the orders of battle to another one of my URLs, www.siegeofpetersburg.com.
All of this will occur down the road at some point or is in the process of occurring right now. The whole point was to create an open-ended project which will allow people to follow along with me as I attempt to learn as much as I possibly can about the campaign which finally captured Richmond.
If you have any comments or suggestions I would love to hear them.