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BTC Sources: A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864

A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864(Editor’s Note: If you have any comments on the sources below or able to provide answers to questions I have about certain books or resources, please use the comment form at the bottom of the page or click on the Contact link in the top menu of this site.)

Title: A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864

Author: Cross, David Faris

Publisher: White Mane Books

Year: 2003

BTC’s Take: This is a great micro-history of the June 23, 1864 action near the Jerusalem Plank Road between the Union Sixth Corps and William Mahone’s Division from the Confederate Third Corps. Over 400 men of the Union Vermont Brigade were gobbled up on the skirmish line late in the day, and the vast majority were imprisoned at Andersonville. Not many returned home after the war. Cross sets the stage, telling the how and why of the Vermonters’ predicament. He goes on to cover the experiences of these men while imprisoned and finishes off with an assessment of what went wrong and who was to blame for the “melancholy affair” between the Weldon Railroad and the Jerusalem Plank Road during Grant’s Second offensive against Petersburg. Those looking to understand this little written about battle will want to own A Melancholy Affair.

BTC Siege of Petersburg Sources Found In This Book:


  • George E. Chamberlin, Letters of George E. Chamberlin, who fell in the service of his country near Charlestown, Va., August 21st, 1864 (Springfield, Illinois: H. W. Rokker’s Publishing House, 1883): George E. Chamberlin was a member of the 11th Vermont Infantry (1st Heavy Artillery) who was present at Jerusalem Plank Road on June 23, 1864.  Does an online version of this source exist?


  • Peter T. Washburn, Report of the Adjutant & Inspector General of the State of Vermont (Montpelier: Walton’s Steam Press, 1864): One gold mine of information I’ve become familiar with since starting this web site is located in the various State Adjutant Generals’ reports from 1864 and 1865.  In many cases histories of regiment for a given year are available, adding information which might not be otherwise obvious or easily available.  Is the 1864 Vermont Adjutant Generals’ Report available online somewhere?  I could not find it at Google Books or the Internet Archive.


  • George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War, 2 vols. (Burlington: Free Press Association, 1886): Volume 1 is online in full at Google Books.  Volume 2 is online in full at the Internet Archive.  This source should provide some nice additional detail of the activities of the Vermont Brigade during the Siege of Petersburg, especially for the Jerusalem Plank Road on June 23, 1864 and the final battles on April 2, 1865.


  • Charles B. Putman, “Diary of Charles B. Putman,” Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier, July 1, 1864.



  • George R. Agassiz, ed., Meade’s Headquarters 1863-65: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922): Lyman was in Meade’s inner circle for the entire Siege of Petersburg.  His letters, edited and published by his nephew, are freely available online at Google Books via the link above.  Lyman also kept a detailed series of notebooks on the day to day operations of the Army of the Potomac while he was with Meade from late 1863 to the end of the war, and thankfully these have also been published as Meade’s Army: The Private Notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman, edited by David W. Lowe and published in 2007.  Lyman is understandably biased towards his chief Meade, but his letters and notebooks offer up a wealth of information on the Overland and Petersburg campaigns.


  • Emil Rosenblatt and Ruth Rosenblatt, eds., Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865 (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1983): Fisk sent his letters to a newspaper back in his native Vermont.  I know little about this one save for some marketing blurbs, but it looks like a nice source on Petersburg and a generally enjoyable read.  Let me know if you’ve had the chance to read it.


  • Robert Stiles, Four Years Under Marse Robert (Marietta, Georgia: R. Bemis Publishing, 1995): Although David Cross looked at this 1995 reprint, the book is freely available at Google Books using the link above.  Stiles was a Major in the Army of Northern Virginia’s artillery, but I am ignorant of his further background.


  • Clifford Dowdey and Louis H. Manarin, eds., The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee (New York: Da Capo Press, 1987): Lee’s Papers are a fantastic reference work for those looking to understand the Siege of Petersburg from his perspective.


  • Raleigh C. Taylor, “A New Move by the Federal Left—Confederate Counter Operations—of June 22-24, 1864,” Undated manuscript in the collection of the Petersburg National Battlefield, Petersburg, Virginia: This one looks very interesting, and I’ll have to look into getting myself a copy.  If anyone has this manuscript in their possession and is willing to photocopy it for me or send it to me for photocopying, I’ll make it worth your time.  Can anyone provide more information on this manuscript?  How long is it?  When was it written?  Who was Raleigh C. Taylor?


  • Wilbur Fisk, “Diary of Wilbur Fisk,” Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection #467, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: Fisk’s diary, published as hard Marching Every Day above, is also available at the Library of Congress.  Does anyone know if this has been digitized by the LOC?


  • Charles C. Morey, “Diary of Lt. Charles C. Morey Company C 2nd Vermont,” U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


  • Carl T. Sutherland, ed., “Reminiscence of the Experiences of a Boy Soldier in the War Between the States by Henry Clay Roney,” Richmond County History 2, no. 1 (1979).


  • Henry Bedell, “Diary of Lt. Henry Bedell,” First Brigade Collection in possession of Ed Italo, Ojai, California, June 23, 1864.  If you know Ed Italo and you are able to put me in touch with him, I would appreciate it.


  • Charles Gilbert Gould Letters, Bailey Howe Library, University of Vermont, Burlington.


  • Edward Porter Alexander Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  • Isaac McQueen Auld Papers 1862-1865, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


  • Lewis A. Grant, The Old Vermont Brigade at Petersburg (St. Paul, Minnesota: St. Paul Book and Stationery Company, 1887).  This article appears in the Minnesota MOLLUS Papers, Volume 1, which I have not yet been able to locate at Google Books or Internet Archive.  I HAVE located volumes 2, 3, and 4.  Grant was the commander of the Vermont Brigade at the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road and in the last assaults against Petersburg in 1865.


  • Mark DeWolf Howe, ed., Touched with Fire: Civil War Letters and Diary of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946).  Most serious students of the Civil War know Holmes as a veteran of the Civil War and Supremem Court Justice who called Lincoln a “damned fool” for looking over the breastworks at Early’s Confederates north of Washington, D.C. in July 1864.  However, I do not know how much light Holmes’ letters shine on the Siege of Petersburg.  If you’ve read this one let me know.



  • James Madison Folsom, Heroes and Martyrs of Georgia: Georgia’s Record in the Revolution of 1861 (Macon, Georgia: Burke, Boykin & Company, 1864).



  • Eugene Matthew Ott, Jr., “The Civil War Diary of James J. Kirkpatrick, Sixteenth Mississippi Infantry, C.S.A.” (Master’s Thesis, Texas A & M University, 1984).


  • Adam Badeau, Military History of Ulysses S. Grant (New York: Appleton, 1881).  I’ve linked to Volume 3 of this multi-volume work.  Badeau was in Grant’s inner circle as Military Secretary on his staff.  I am not nearly as familiar with Badeau’s work as I am with Theodore Lyman’s, so I’m not sure what biases exist and to what extent they come out in this work.


  • Eugene Verdery, Jr. and James Paul Verdery Papers, Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina


  • John Zwemer, For Home and the Southland (Baltimore: Butternut & Blue, 1999).  This is a history of the 48th Georgia.  I need to make sure to add it to my Regimental History Bibliography list.


  • Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1864).


  • Edward Porter Alexander, Military Memoirs of a Confederate (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962): This famous First Corps, ANV artillerist’s memoirs are freely available at the link above.




  • “Isaac Watts Diary”, in the possession of John W. Turner, Monroeville, Pennsylvania.



  • Pingree Letters, Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier.



  • W. M. Harris, compiler & publisher, Movements of the Confederate Army in Virginia and the Part Taken by the 19th Mississippi Regiment (from the diary of General Nathaniel H. Harris) (Duncansby, Mississippi, 1901): I have not yet been able to find this one online, but it would appear to be a good source on the movements of the 19th Mississippi and Harris’ Brigade at Petersburg.  If you know where I can find it online, please let me know.


  • Ransom W. Towle, “Diary of Lt. Ransom W. Towle” Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier


  • Benedict Papers, Bailey Howe Library, University of Vermont, Burlington.


  • John H. Macomber Papers, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.


  • Civil War Letters of Edgar H. Preston, in possession of Calvin F. Page, Brookline, New Hampshire.  If you can put me into contact with Calvin F. Page I would appreciate hearing from you.


  • Romaine J. Eggleston to “Sister Clara,” June 25, 1864, in the possession of Ronald G. Watson, Pittsboro North Carolina.  If you can put me into contact with Ronald G. Watson I would appreciate hearing from you.


  • Papers of Lyman S. Williams, Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier.



  • John Hennessy, “The Forgotten Legion: The Subordinate Command of the Army of the Potomac,” Eleventh Annual New England Civil War Conference, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut, June 20, 1992.




  • Fletcher L. Elmore, Jr., compiler, Diary of J.E. Whitehorne 1st Sergt., Co. “F” 12th Va. Infantry A,P. Hill’s 3rd Corps A. N. Va. (Louisville, Kentucky: privately published, 1995).  If you can put me into contact with Fletcher Elmore I would appreciate it.


  • Dunbar Rowland, Military History of Mississippi 1803-1898 (Spartanburg, South Carolina: Reprint Company Publishers, 1988).


  • Austin C. Dobbins, Grandfather’s Journals (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1988): This book covers the journals of a member of Company B, 16th Mississippi, Harris’ Brigade, Mahone’s Division , Third Corps, ANV.



Book Summary/Review:

BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:

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