The book focuses on the final battles around Richmond and Petersburg, looking at the period between the Confederate counter-attack on Fort Stedman on 25 March to the evacuation of Richmond on 2 April. Ironically the final fall of Richmond and Petersburg was triggered by Lee’s own last offensive, an attempt to inflict a blow on the Union lines that would have allowed his army to withdraw from the siege intact and on their own terms. Instead the failed attack on 25 March weakened the Confederate lines, and gave Grant the chance he needed to finally break through the Confederate defences to the south-west of Petersburg.
Although the book only covers about a week, it was a very busy week, with a series of skirmishes and battles, some of a really significant scale, mainly fought on the long Confederate flank to the south and west of Petersburg. The authors do a good job of explaining how these battles fit into the overall campaign, with Grant attempting to cut the last supply lines into Richmond and the Confederates attempting to hold the line as long as possible. We get a good idea of the strength of the opposing sides, the limited options available to Lee, and Grant’s determination not to miss his chance, as well as the controversies on both sides (most famously the sacking of General Warren, the commander of the Union 5th Corps, at the end of a victorious battle!).
This is a useful study of these key battles, and one that I’m going to find very useful when I fill the gaps in my account of the period!
1 - On the Richmond!
2 - Petersburg Besieged
3 - Winter Quarters
4 - Jones Farm
5 - Lewis Farm and White Oak Road
6 - Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks
7 - The VI Corps Prepares to Charge
8 - The Vermonters Break Through
9 - Expanding the Breach
10 - The Death of A.P. Hill
11 - The Sweep to Hatcher's Run
12 - Forts Gregg and Whitworth
13 - Grant and Lee Under Fire
14 - The Fall of Petersburg
Author: Edward Alexander
Publisher: Savas Beatie