Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

The Petersburg Campaign extended from the early summer of 1864 into the spring of 1865. By far the longest and most complex military operation of the Civil War, it featured each side’s most famous and accomplished general, produced scores of thousands of casualties, closed with the premier Confederate...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

I spent twenty-five years working and living on Petersburg’s battlefields, first with the National Park Service and then as the executive director of Pamplin Historical Park, scene of the campaign’s climactic attack. During that quarter century, I learned that even the most dedicated students of the American Civil...

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1. War at Our Own Doors

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pp. 1-41

Teenaged Anne Banister watched in dread as a wagon carrying the lifeless body of her father approached her Petersburg, Virginia, home. “My precious mother stood like one dazed but in a few seconds she was kneeling by my father in such grief as I had never seen before,” she remembered. Throughout the city, similar...

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2. Our Hearts Were Filled with New Hope: Movement to Combat

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pp. 42-81

Targeting Petersburg seemed logical to both Union and Confederate strategists. “A brilliant and distinguished graduate of West Point . . . put his finger on the map, at Petersburg, and said, ‘There is Richmond,’” remembered Gen. William F. Smith. “The more the map of Virginia and the campaigns in Virginia...

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3. My Best Achievement: June 15, 1864

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pp. 82-123

William Farrar Smith was a difficult fellow. “A short, quite portly man, with a light-brown imperial and shaggy mustache, a round, military head, and the look of a German officer,” Smith, thought Ulysses S. Grant, was “obstinate” and “likely to condemn whatever is not suggested by himself.” In point of fact...

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4. More Hard Fighting and Many More Lives Must Be Lost: June 16–17, 1864

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pp. 124-169

The scale of the Union assaults on the evening of June 15 had, by the next day, convinced many Confederates that the Federals had transferred operations south of the James River. “We may now expect the whole strength of Grant’s & Butler’s armies united, to be directed against Petersburg, as the first part of...

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5. We Have Done All That It Is Possible for Men to Do and Must Be Resigned to the Result: June 18, 1864

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pp. 170-212

The savage fighting southeast of Petersburg finally ebbed into the occasional skirmish fire shortly before midnight on June 17. “If there was ever a place on earth that looked like the infernal regions, this was the place,” shuddered a Virginia soldier as he gazed out on the moonlit battlefield, littered with writhing...

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6. Our Work Here Progresses Slowly: Grant’s Second Offensive

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pp. 213-256

The crack of the rifle and the roar of the cannon gave way to the cries of the wounded as darkness settled over the Petersburg battlefield on the evening of June 18. Concern about tactics yielded to contemplation as the officers and men in all four contending armies reflected on their experience of the last four days...

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7. We Were Fortunate to Get Back at All: From White House Landing to First Reams’ Station

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pp. 257-303

Ulysses S. Grant’s plans to reduce Petersburg and isolate the Confederate capital had not gone well. His failure to capture the Cockade City between June 15 and 18 or to control the Petersburg or South Side railroads during his Second Offensive, a few days later, marked just a pair of his disappointments that...

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8. The Most Disagreeable Human Habitation Left upon This Sin-Stricken Earth: Life in Petersburg, Summer 1864

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pp. 304-331

The New York Times correspondent watched with amazement as the Federal cavalry went into camp at the conclusion of the Wilson-Kautz Raid. “More jaded troopers and horses were never seen,” he wrote. “The men were grotesque in their misery. Some had lost their forage caps, and had replaced them...

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9. Strangled in Dust and Scorched in the Sun: Army Operations, Late June to Mid-July

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pp. 332-372

Everyday hardships afflicted soldiers and Petersburg residents alike as the summer sun baked the parched battle lines. “Petersburg is a very nice place and a very pleasant one I should imagine to spend the winter in,” wrote Lt. William Cowper Nelson of the Nineteenth Mississippi, “but a city life in the summer...

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10. I Have Accomplished One of the Great Things of This War: Construction of the Mine and First Deep Bottom

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pp. 373-418

Henry Pleasants possessed an unusual pedigree. The son of an Argentinian beauty and a Pennsylvanian turned South American gunrunner, Pleasants moved to Philadelphia in 1846 at age thirteen to live with his paternal uncle after his father’s untimely death. He eventually earned an advanced degree in...

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11. This Day Was the Jubilee of Fiends in Human Shape, and without Souls: The Union Attacks on July 30

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pp. 419-466

As generals Winfield Scott Hancock and Philip H. Sheridan prepared to cross the James and threaten Richmond in late July, George Meade laid contingency plans to exploit Burnside’s mine. As early as July 26, the army commander notified Gouverneur Warren that the movement toward the Confederate capital...

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12. A Perfect Hell of Blood: The Confederates Regain the Crater

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pp. 467-516

While William Mahone led his Virginia and Georgia brigades northeastward, the remainder of his troops expanded to cover the division’s weakened right flank. Nathaniel Harris’s Mississippians, now occupying the right of the thin Confederate line south of Petersburg, merely “stretched out in one rank to fill...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 517-520

The author of a book that has been a decade in the making accumulates a long list of institutions and individuals to whom a profound debt of gratitude is owed. William Marvel of South Conway, New Hampshire, deserves first mention. Bill provided me with voluminous source material from New England archives...

Notes

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pp. 521-628

Bibliography

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pp. 629-678

Index

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pp. 679-712