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Intro to the Petersburg Progress-Index Centennial Series

Back in May 1964, the Petersburg Progress-Index launched a lengthy series of Civil War centennial articles focusing on the war as it approached, engulfed, and then left Petersburg, Virginia over a period of nearly eleven months.  Through the forty-one articles, the Progress-Index explored not only the battles, but also various other aspects of the Siege of Petersburg, including but not limited to hospitals, (lack of) supplies, the origins of Memorial Day, the railroads, and the citizens’ experience during the campaign.

I found it interesting and somewhat amusing that the paper several times assumed an apologetic tone for even presenting this series to the citizens of Petersburg, interjecting at one point:

“[In a previous article] we referred to Petersburg’s profound boredom with such matters and entered an apology for treating of them. But notice should be taken of something which after all is the thing about Petersburg of which the world is aware and is also considerably interested. Centennial observances by their nature occur only at intervals of a hundred years, so we really should take some notice of this one. Persons who find such articles as the following ridiculous or boring will need no prompting from us to ignore these contributions to the cause.”

The editor later stated he was “aware that some people view all such matters with a boredom so massive and profound that it commands respect and admiration. But we are aware also that this is the thing about Petersburg which has made an impression upon world history and upon the world’s consciousness.”

In any case, I’m glad the Progress-Index did not cave to any mailed unpleasantries and kept going for almost a year. I’m happy to announce that, starting today, and going for the next forty-one Fridays, you’ll be able to follow along and relive the Siege of Petersburg from a Centennial era viewpoint.  Links to all of the articles will be listed below and at the bottom of each individual article.


The Petersburg Progress-Index Siege of Petersburg Centennial Series, 1964-65:

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