I’d like to take a moment to announce the opening of The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater’s brand new online store offering Confederate Inspection Reports and Union Ordnance Returns. You’ll also notice the new Store menu button at the top of Beyond the Crater’s site. I want to explain what exactly is available now, the low cost of purchasing what cost me several hundred dollars, and why I decided to launch the store.
Beyond the Crater’s Primary Goals:
The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater has always been a not for profit venture for me. I wanted a place to research the Siege of Petersburg publicly and show readers how interesting this campaign is. One thing I did not count on is the steep cost of purchasing microfilm/CD/paper versions of unpublished primary sources, sources which I want to make available to anyone who wants them for a reasonable cost.
How Opening an Online Store Helps Further Those Goals
After transcribing some of the items I’ve purchased, I quickly realized I should make these hard to access and costly records available to others who share my interest in the Siege of Petersburg and those units which fought there. While some of the information available in the store will be available on individual unit pages all over the site, I also wanted to give people the raw data, just as it appears on the microfilm rolls.
What’s Available? And How Much Does it Cost?
There are currently two main sets of items available to purchase immediately at the store, Confederate Inspection Reports and Union Ordnance Returns.
Confederate Inspection Reports
The Confederate Inspection Reports come from NARA Microfilm M935: Inspection Reports and Related Records Received By the Inspector Branch in the Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office, Roll 10: Inspection Reports P-12 – 39-P-24. This roll may be purchased directly from the NARA for $85 (microfilm) or $125 (images on CD). I’ll be offering transcriptions of these items for $1.99 per inspection report, and $29.99 for transcriptions of every inspection report on the roll. Currently, only three inspection reports, P-12, P-13, and P-15 are available. They cover Benning’s Brigade, Field’s Division, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia in August and September 1864, providing detailed regimental strengths as well as the condition of the brigade at the time of the inspection. As I transcribe more inspection reports, I’ll provide brief updates at the site to let people know a new one is ready.
Union Ordnance Returns
The Union Ordnance Returns come from NARA Microfilm M1281: Summary Statements of Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations, 1862-1867, 1870-1876, Roll 7, which contains the number and types of weapons of each infantry unit in the Union Army broken down by company for the period of April-June 1864, or 2nd Quarter 1864. This roll may be purchased directly from the NARA for $85 (microfilm) or $125 (images on CD). I’ll be offering transcriptions of these items grouped by state with purchase prices ranging from only $1.99 up to $16.99 depending on how many regiments a state had at the Siege of Petersburg, and $24.99 for transcriptions of the armament of every Union infantry unit which participated in the Siege of Petersburg and was present on June 30, 1864. Ultimately, you can pay $25 for my transcription of an item which costs three-five times as much if you purchase the microfilm itself directly from the NARA. Please note that regiments which did not fight at Petersburg have not yet been transcribed. I am willing to take requests for transcriptions of other regiments for a small fee, probably $1.99 per regiment. Please Contact Me if you are interested.
What Format Is It In?
For now, all items will be available as a direct download in Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) format. Other formats may be available in the future.
What Will You Do With Any Money Made?
This is where I can reassure you this web site will remain a not for profit. Any purchases made will be saved up and used to buy more microfilm directly from the National Archives and transcribe these new items as well. In this way I can afford some of the more expensive items out there and pass along the information to those interested in the Siege of Petersburg at a more reasonable price point. Some items I hope to buy include three more rolls from M1281, five more rolls from M935, and then hopefully start purchasing copies of Consolidated Morning Reports from various State archives I’ve identified. Another possible use of the money is to pay independent researchers to obtain items I am unable to go and copy myself. Please note that you may also make a small donation to this site for the same purpose.
So that’s it! I’m hoping that wargamers and researchers of various regiments as well as other students of the Civil War might find some of the information I’ve purchased interesting enough to want to own yourselves. If you are still reading and are interested in owning one of the items I’ve discussed above, please go check out the new Beyond the Crater Online Store and help me further improve the site. Thanks!