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 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 01:45 pm
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TimK
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Will Greene wrote a good book about Petersburg.I set it down somewhere and can't find it at the moment, but I found it very interesting.

I suppose I felt the same way as ole and Iron Duke until I visited Petersburg. The town, in the early and mid 1800's was a very wealthy and bustling town. It appears now to have some struggles, and maybe that is another reason people are not inclined to visit. I guarantee you though, that if you have time to get out and visit the several sites in and around Petersburg, you will not leave thinking it is dull. Not only does the NPS have sites there, but the CWPT has saved several sites and have constructed several interpretive trails (like at White Oak Road and Reams Station). The NPS is building a new Information Station at Five Forks, and I think more interpretive trails. Remember Pickett and the shad bake? And then Lee's Retreat to Appomattox and the skirmishes along the way. Literally, after a visit, and walking through forts and seeing trenches, I found this area to be an untapped wealth of history.

Sorry to ramble. I know people that think the beginning and the end was Gettysburg, and that is all they want to know and care about. But don't soldiers that gave the ultimate at Sailors Creek, when the end was so close, deserve the same attention as the soldiers that paid at a sexier battlefield?

Just some thoughts - sorry again to ramble.



 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 01:54 pm
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pamc153PA
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I don't know, Ole, but I've been thinking about the word "plodding" to describe Grant, and I have to admit, I don't see him as having a plodding personality. Dogged, maybe, but this is a man who is not comfortable just sitting and twiddling his thumbs. Think of Vicksburg, and his determination to break that seige, resorting to trying digging though the muck and mess, etc.--action, not just sitting. (Not that it worked right away of course) I don't see him willingly deciding to wait Lee out, though Lee was dug-in and, as you say, desperately holding on where he could. I don't see Grant, after the Overland Campaign, saying, willingly, "Okay, I'll wait him out for almost a year."

It seems to me (just learning this battle) that there must have been extenuating circumstances with the AoP. What, I'm just thinking about yet. Losses from the batttles in the chase south after Lee? Morale because of that? Plain exhaustion? It was closing in on the end of the war (even Lee knew that, if Jefferson Davis didn't), end of a long chase, and everyone was thinning in numbers and getting "wore out." But I still think the AoP should not have taken 10 months to break the siege, in theory, without other things coming into play.

Thoughts?

Pam



 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 03:52 pm
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ole
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Excellent observation, Pam, but I couldn't think of another word for Grant's action at Petersburg.

What he did looks like plodding, but he didn't just sit. Lee was dug in and a rush to take him would have cost many lives. Lee wasn't going anywhere.

Every day Grant moved to improve his encirclement and cut the rails into Petersburg. Others more familiar with that particular fracas will have to chime in here, but I read it that Grant knew the war was over and that he had no compelling reason to press the issue. (The "needless effusion of blood" thing)

The west was all but over with the only conceivable threat being Hood's AotT. Taylor couldn't cross the Mississippi and Sherman was loose and striking terror in Georgia and the Carolinas. And Lee was stuck protecting Richmond. It was over. He had only to wait until Lee tossed in the towel. I think history would have found Grant irresponsible for storming works that didn't need to be stormed.

We might say that he went for the decision rather than the knockout.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 05:15 pm
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Captain Crow
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here's a very solid study of the Petersburg campaign in it's entirety with some excellent maps:

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Citadel-Petersburg-Virginia-1864-April/dp/0807118613/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221930661&sr=8-1



 Posted: Sun Sep 21st, 2008 12:30 am
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pamc153PA
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I'm working my way to the Battle of Five Forks, and so have been reading through Lewis Farm and Dinwiddie Court House. I was surprised by two things: first, I do know that Pickett gets a bad rap because of his "performance" at Five Forks, but I was slightly impressed with his performance at Dinwiddie Court House. To have stopped and pushed back Sheridan's cavalry was a feat for Pickett's men, though they had as incentive the fact that they COULD NOT allow the Union to take Five Forks or that would be the end of them. So Pickett came through when it counted. . . though in the scheme of things, it only delayed the inevitable.

The second thing I was initially surprised at was Sheridan's take on this battle. He told Grant that Pickett was "too strong for us, " and that he'd hold on to Dinwiddie Court House until he was "compelled to leave." But later he seemed to have come to the realization that, being cut off from support was more dangerous for Pickett than for him, since if Pickett would get cut off from Lee, there'd never be a chance for him to get back. With this came a sort of cat-and-mouse attitude: okay, so we stopped today. We'll get them tomorrow.

Can you tell I'm enjoying learning a new battle?

Pam



 Posted: Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 09:54 am
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gettysburgerrn
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I just started reading what seems to promise to be a good read on just this very topic... "The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign" by A. Wilson Greene. I have to say, its already a more interesting topic than I thought it would be...

ken



 Posted: Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 08:54 pm
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calcav1
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The Petersburg Campaign has always been fascinating to me. It’s all a matter of vocabulary I suppose, but the city never was technically under a siege. The city in question must be totally surrounded to be considered besieged. Vicksburg is a good example; the Union controlled the west bank of the river, the river itself, and Grant had his two flanks tied to the river above and below the city, thus creating a true siege. Petersburg, like here at Corinth in May 1862, was an investment, where the attacking army partially surrounded the defenders but did not completely cut off communications or supply routes.
Another exercise in military jargon concerns “breaking a siege”. Grant was not trying to break the siege at Petersburg; he was trying to complete the siege. Lee, the defender, was the one trying to break or lift the siege. An excellent example of breaking a siege is Grant’s operations at Chattanooga in November of 1863.
A particularly fascinating event during the campaign was the “Beefsteak Raid”, real boots & saddles cavalry stuff
http://members.aol.com/siege1864/cattle.html

Tom



 Posted: Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 09:01 pm
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calcav1
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Oh yeah, the Beefsteak Raid was the subject of a William Holden/Richard Widmark movie in 1966; "Alvarez Kelly". A nice piece of Hollywood but don't look for a scrap of truth in it.

Tom



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 Posted: Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 09:33 pm
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calcav1
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Bama,

John wesley Powell lost his arm here at Shiloh. That's why we can tell visitors that were it not for Shiloh he would not have been able to single handidly explore the Colorado.

Go ahead and groan, its okay.

Tom



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 Posted: Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 05:08 pm
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HankC
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calcav1 wrote: An excellent example of breaking a siege is Grant’s operations at Chattanooga in November of 1863.

 
ah, but calcav, was Chattanooga besieged or merely invested ? ;)
 
 
HankC



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 Posted: Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 06:32 pm
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David White
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Briefly besieged until the cracker line was established.



 Posted: Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 11:21 pm
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pamc153PA
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A couple of you suggested A. Wilson Greene's book which, after I checked all my various piles of books on this that and everything in between Civil War, I found (I knew I had it SOMEWHERE) and started to read. Excellent advice, folks;  terrific information. I bought it years ago after visiting Pamplin (I think I bought it AT Pamplin), but never read that--but I guess that never happens to any of you folks, does it?? ;)

Pam



 Posted: Wed Sep 24th, 2008 11:06 am
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gettysburgerrn
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I figure if I dont buy another book, it'll take me roughly 138 yrs to read the ones I have... :) ok slight exaggeration. But yes I definitely feel your pain on that one Pam...

ken



 Posted: Wed Sep 24th, 2008 12:00 pm
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susansweet
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Ken I can relate and I am sure I am much older. I started late on my study of the war. So I have so many books here to read to catch up. Drives me crazy.
Susan



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 12:18 am
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Captain Crow
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I will never finish my "to read" list........never.



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 01:10 am
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Dixie Girl
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Captain Crow wrote: I will never finish my "to read" list........never.
neither will i



____________________
War Means Fighting And Fighting Means Killing - N. B. Forrest When war does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Stonewall Jackson


 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 09:53 am
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gettysburgerrn
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It doesnt help that for every book I read I wind up buying 2 more....good math for Amazon, bad for completing my reading list....but getting there is half the fun..

ken



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