As we continue to roll out the next wave of releases for the Emerging Civil War Series, we head south of the James River for Edward S. Alexander’s debut book, Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg.
“In the few years since I took interest in the climactic April 2nd assaults against the Petersburg defenses, the Breakthrough Battlefield has undergone a complete physical transformation to restore most of the decisive historic landscape,” explains Edward, who works as a historian at Pamplin Park. “This book was not conceived in a dusty library far removed from the action but with axe and chainsaw–as vital as pen and paper to this project–exposing from many of the subtle topographic quirks so instrumental in directing Civil War combat. I can comfortably say as a park ranger that my blood and sweat is heavily invested into these pages, and I am eager to share this rediscovered battlefield.”
From the back cover:
After the unprecedented violence of the 1864 Overland Campaign, Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant turned his gaze south of Richmond to Petersburg, where the railroads that supplied the Confederate capital and its defenders found their junction. Nine grueling months of constant maneuver and combat around the “Cockade City” followed. Massive fortifications dominated the landscape, and both armies frequently pushed each other to the brink of disaster.
As March 1865 drew to a close, Grant planned one more charge against Confederate lines. Despite recent successes, many viewed this latest task as an impossibility—and their trepidation had merit. “These lines might well have been looked upon by the enemy as impregnable,” admitted Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright, “and nothing but the most resolute bravery could have overcome them.”
Grant ordered the attack for April 2, 1865, setting the stage for a dramatic early morning bayonet charge by his Sixth Corps across half a mile of open ground into the “strongest line of works ever constructed in America.”
Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg tells the story of the men who fought and died in the decisive battle of the Petersburg Campaign. Readers can follow the footsteps of the resolute Union attackers and stand in the shoes of the obstinate Confederate defenders as their actions decided the fate of the nation.
Edward S. Alexander is a park ranger at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, site of the Breakthrough Battlefield in Petersburg, Virginia. His work in preserving, maintaining, and interpreting these grounds allows him to guide readers across this hallowed ground. Edward is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a B.A. in history. He has previously worked with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He is also a contributing historian at Emerging Civil War (www.emergingcivilwar.com).