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A Campaign of Giants–The Battle for Petersburg

Volume 1: From the Crossing of the James to the Crater

By A. Wilson Greene

Foreword by Gary W. Gallagher

Grinding, bloody, and ultimately decisive, the Petersburg Campaign was the Civil War’s longest and among its most complex. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee squared off for more than nine months in their struggle for Petersburg, the key to the Confederate capital at Richmond. Featuring some of the war’s most notorious battles, the campaign played out against a backdrop of political drama and crucial fighting elsewhere, with massive costs for soldiers and civilians alike. After failing to bull his way into Petersburg, Grant concentrated on isolating the city from its communications with the rest of the surviving Confederacy, stretching Lee’s defenses to the breaking point. When Lee’s desperate breakout attempt failed in March 1865, Grant launched his final offensives that forced the Confederates to abandon the city on April 2, 1865. A week later, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

Here A. Wilson Greene opens his sweeping new three-volume history of the Petersburg Campaign, taking readers from Grant’s crossing of the James in mid-June 1864 to the fateful Battle of the Crater on July 30. Full of fresh insights drawn from military, political, and social history, A Campaign of Giants is destined to be the definitive account of the campaign. With new perspectives on operational and tactical choices by commanders, the experiences of common soldiers and civilians, and the significant role of the United States Colored Troops in the fighting, this book offers essential reading for all those interested in the history of the Civil War.

Practical Liberators

Union Officers in the Western Theater during the Civil War

By Kristopher A. Teters

During the first fifteen months of the Civil War, the policies and attitudes of Union officers toward emancipation in the western theater were, at best, inconsistent and fraught with internal strains. But after Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act in 1862, army policy became mostly consistent in its support of liberating the slaves in general, in spite of Union army officers’ differences of opinion. By 1863 and the final Emancipation Proclamation, the army had transformed into the key force for instituting emancipation in the West. However, Kristopher Teters argues that the guiding principles behind this development in attitudes and policy were a result of military necessity and pragmatic strategies, rather than an effort to enact racial equality.

Through extensive research in the letters and diaries of western Union officers, Teters demonstrates how practical considerations drove both the attitudes and policies of Union officers regarding emancipation. Officers primarily embraced emancipation and the use of black soldiers because they believed both policies would help them win the war and save the Union, but their views on race actually changed very little. In the end, however, despite its practical bent, Teters argues, the Union army was instrumental in bringing freedom to the slaves.