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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Corrections to "The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864"

My cousin George Zelenack went to the trouble of sniffing out typographical errors in The Siege of Petersburg:  The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.  Thanks, George!  Here's what they are:

Page      Line                        Text                                                       Suggestion
Viii          6                              look at a history books                   look at history books
X             6                              missing ling                                         missing link
11           3                              a find dust                                           a fine dust
11           FN11, L9               much more quickly that                 much more quickly than
30           FN21, L4               “Road roather than”                       Road rather than
56           P2, L1                    “alignng on a lane”                          aligning on a lane
125         P1, L12                  in front of rest of                              in front of the rest of
345         L17                         Dakota.Letter                                    Dakota. Letter
345         L21                         Georgia.Nicholas                              Georgia. (New paragraph) Nicholas DeGraff….
346         L9                            D.C.William                                         D.C.  (new paragraph) William Henry Harder….
346         L10                         Virginia. Joseph                                Virginia.  (new paragraph) Joseph Hayes….
347         L1                            James June 21-August 21 1894    James, June 21-August 21, 1894
347         Sec2, L10              (1889).Day,                                         (1889).  Day, W.  A….
363         L2                            “misunderstatding”                        misunderstanding
365         Meade, L13                     “misunderstatding”                                misunderstanding

I have found more substantial errors:

1)  The Western Brigade of Terry's division on August 16, 1864, attacked not in column of divisions but in column of battalions, and thus with skirmishers not eleven deep but five deep.  OR 42, 1:689 ("doubled in column at half distance"), 699 ("doubled on the center...formed in double column").

2)  The Wilson-Kautz Raid did not leave the Richmond & Danville Railroad and the South Side Railroad inoperable until September but only until early July.  Greg Eanes, Destroy the Junction:  The Wilson-Kautz Raid & the Battle for the Staunton River Bridge, June 21, 1864 to July 1, 1864 (Lynchburg, Va.:  H. E. Howard, 1999), 166-168, 207-208.

Mea culpa!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

March 23, 2017, Greater Orlando Civil War Round Table

On March 23, 2017, at 6 p.m., I'll be talking about a topic within the scope of The Siege of Petersburg:  The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 at the Greater Orlando Civil War Round Table, Marks Street Senior Recreation Center, 99 E. Marks Street, Orlando, Florida 32803.  Books will be available at a discount.  I'll happily inscribe any book purchased.

Friday, August 5, 2016

November 8, 2017, Civil Warriors Roound Table, Los Angeles/West SF Valley

On November 8, 2017, I'll be talking to the Civil Warriors Round Table of Los Andgeles/West SF Valley about the struggle for the Weldon Railroad as depicted in The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.  The program will start at 7 p.m. at Weiler's West Hills Deli, 22323 Sherman Way, West Hills, CA, 91303.  Copies of the book will be available at a discount.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

January 17, 2017, Orange County (Southern California) Civil War Round Table

John will talk at the Orange County (Southern California) Civil War Round Table about George S. Bernard, soldier of the 12th Virginia Infantry, Petersburg lawyer, and compiler of "War Talks of Confederate Veterans" and "Civil War Talks."  The focus will be on the experience of Bernard and his unit on August 19, 1864, in "The No-Name Battle" against IX Corps just south of Petersburg, part of the battle of Globe Tavern.  This is described in John's most recent book, "The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864."  Books will be for sale at discounts.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, A Hero of Our Civil War

Anyone familiar with Civil War literature should be familiar with Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard.  Usually, you hear of him as the commander of the routed XI Corps at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.  He is usually portrayed as a prudish excessively religious fuddy-duddy.

He was in fact a hero beyond the imagination of most of us.  At Seven Pines/Fair Oaks, on June 1, 1862, he commanded a brigade of Richardson's division of II Corps, which Lt. Col. William F Fox of the 107th New York, wounded at Antietam/Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, and Resaca declared the division of the war most generous with its blood.  (Actually, that honor goes to Mott's division of II Corps, into which orders consolidated two divisions of II Corps at Spotsylvania.)

In the collision between Howard's brigade and Mahone's Confederate brigade on June 1, 1862, Howard suffered wounds to his right arm that resulted in its amputation.  Command of the brigade devolved upon another great soldier and a great lawyer as well, Col. Francis Channing Barlow of the 61st New York, who would command Richardson's division of II Corps later in the war.  Still another extraordinary soldier, Nelson A. Miles, an officer on Howard's staff, took command of the brigade's 81st Pennsylvania during the battle.  Opposite these Federals, Brig. Gen. William Mahone of Mahone's brigade, Col. Cullen A. Battle of the 3rd Alabama, Col. John R. Chambliss of the 41st Virginia, and Col. David A. Wsisiger of the 12th Virginia  received their baptisms of fire (against infantry--they had been under naval gunfire on May 15, 1862 at the First Battle of Drewry's Bluff.)

Imagine having lost your right arm and going back into combat.  Yet that is what General Howard did.  He went on to fight at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Atlanta Campaign, and the March through Georgia and into the Carolinas.  Afterward he led the Freedman's Bureau and helped found Howard University.  Then he put on his uniform again and participated in the Indian Wars.

Howard risked life and limb as often as a modern day veteral serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.  How many can say the same--especially afting losing a right arm?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Another Shaky Source, A Maine Diary on Petersburg

Hand written diaries make great sources.  The John F. Sale Diary at the Library of Virginia is an example.  Beware of over-edited diaries.  An example is, Ruth L. Silliker, ed., The Rebel Yell & the Yankee Hurrah:  The Civil War Journal of a Maine Volunteer, Private John W. Haley, 17th Maine Regiment (Camden, Me.:  Down East Books, 1985.  For starters, the writing is too fine:  "Death filled the air like snowflakes in a winter storm," is one line in the entry on page 175 for June 22, 1864.  Someone might have written that while on the front lines, but I doubt it.  In the entry for the same day on the same page it is said that General DeTrobriand called it or would have called it "von grand skedaddle."  I really doubt that.  DeTrobriand did not return to duty with the 17th Maine's brigade until five days afterward.  He came from New York City, where he had served since the spring.  Furthermore, he would not likely have said, "von grand skedaddle."  That imitates a German accent, and DeTrobriand was a native French speaker.  Finally, the writer sees things he would have been unlikely to see, such as General Barlow washing his feet in a little stream.  There is a witness to that, but I doubt this diarist saw it because the diaries was in the second line and Barlow was hundreds of yards to the north with thick woods in between.  Much of what this diarist says must be taken with a grain of salt.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Petersburg and Atlanta, Castel and McMurry, Part 3

Castel seems satisfied that Sherman's capture of Atlanta settled the November 1864 presidential election in favor of President Abraham Lincoln.  McMurry appears to think that Lincoln would have won anyway.  I agree with Castel, not so much on the basis of his analysis, but because during the fortnight before Atlanta's capture, Lincoln was preparing for defeat.  He circulated his "Blind Memorandum" at a cabinet meeting on August 23, 1864.

Executive Mansion
Washington, Aug. 23, 1864.
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards. 

Grant's memoirs indicate that he thought the capture of Atlanta decisive as well.  Despite McMurry's lengthy analysis, I agree with the men on the ground--Grant and Lincoln--that the capture of Atlanta decided the election and hence the war.