Follow by Email

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I am slogging my way through the third of four books on the Battle of the Crater.  I must read or reread them to prepare to revise The Petersburg Campaign, which I wrote almost twenty-five years ago, when only one of them existed.  Right now I am reading John F. Schmutz's The Battle of the Crater, a Complete History.  I have reached the point where General Meade interferes with General Burnside's plan.

Like Dr. Slotkin, Mr. Schmutz makes a lot of mistakes.  Both published in 2009 and were unaware of one another's work.  Mr. Schmutz misidentifies the Petersburg Riflemen--a company of the Petersburg Regiment, 12th Virginia Infantry--as the Petersburg Rifles.  W. Gordon McCabe did not belong to Johnson's Division--McCabe was an artillerist in a Virginia unit.  General Bragg was not in command in Georgia at the time of the Siege of Petersburg.  The 36th Wisconsin was not in V Corps but in II Corps.  The 1st Maryland Cavalry (dismounted) and the 24th Massachusetts did not belong to II Corps.  Mr. Schmutz's introduction is too long and too detailed.  We do not need to know every counterattack General Lee tried to lead personally during the Overland Campaign.  Mr. Schmutz also likes to quote without identifying the source in the text, only in an endnote.  I will have more to say about this book when I finish, which will be a while.  The type is very small, the pages are very big, and there are about 250 of them to go.

There are still not very many books on the Siege of Petersburg, barely twenty (and I am including two books on the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, a preliminary to the siege).  No book exists on the Second Offensive (June 21-July 1, 1864) though two books exist on parts of that offensive.  No book exists on the Sixth Offensive (December 7-10, 1864).  No book exists on the Seventh Offensive (February 5-7, 1865).  When I wrote The Petersburg Campaign, there were about nine books on the siege, including the two on Bermuda Hundred.