Siege of Petersburg Fan
|Just noticed this interesting topic from several years ago. Many of you are aware that I run The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater web site. I think the reasons proposed here for why the Petersburg Campaign is not often studied (i.e. "boring" siege, sense of inevitability of the outcome) pretty much hit the nail on the head.
The truth of these statements, however, are somewhat debatable. Although there were trench lines throughout and grinding attrition every single day, many of Grant's offensives resulted in more open battles with the Confederates sometimes attacking. Some examples include the fighting at both battles of Deep Bottom north of the James River in the 3rd and 4th Offensives, the Battle of Globe Tavern in the 4th Offensive, the action along the White Oak Road late in the siege, and others.
Sadly, many of these battles have literally not one single modern book written on them. The Battle of Boydton Plank Road in late October 1864 and the Battle of Hatcher's Run in February 1865 are at best the subject of short articles in modern Civil War magazines, and they deserve more attention. The first of two major actions at the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road in late June 1864 involving the rout of the vaunted Union Second Corps is similarly neglected despite an interesting story line and major implications for the length of the siege.
On the plus side, Richard Sommers' book Richmond Redeemed covers Grant's Fifth Offensive in late Sept-early Oct 1864 in great detail. In addition, A. Wilson Greene's book Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion looks at the final week or so of action around Petersburg in a similar fashion. John J. Fox III recently put out a book on the Battle for Forts Gregg and Whitworth on April 2, 1865, the last day of the siege entitled The Confederate Alamo. 300 or so Confederate defenders held these forts against 4500 Union troops, preventing Petersburg from falling nightfall and allowing Lee to survive to last another week until Appomattox.
I'm listing an "in the early stages" list of books on the Siege of Petersburg from The Siege of Petersburg Online's bibliography page here in case readers of this thread are interested in reading more about this fascinating and mostly untapped area for study:
Books on the Siege of Petersburg Siege of Petersburg Overviews Other Petersburg Related Materials
Last edited on Mon Jan 24th, 2011 12:14 am by bschulte