Petersburg & Richmond: In 1865 & In The ECW Series

On April 2, 1865, the Breakthrough at Petersburg occurred, and the Confederate military and government evacuated Richmond. There are books in the ECW Series that take a closer look at these events. Do you have them in your library collection?

Dawn of Victory, authored by Edward Alexander and published in 2015, takes a closer look at the attack Ulysses S. Grant ordered 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.”

The book 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.

“The turn of things on that memorable morning was a turn that filled the soul with gladness. At dawning of day, we could see comrades bleeding, dying and dead, and it was sad to see our fallen heroes, but high above the sobs of death could be heard the shouts of victory, victory, victory.”
— Sgt. Francis Cordrey, 126th Ohio Infantry

Embattled Capital, written by Bert Dunkerly and Doug Crenshaw and published in 2021, is one of the newest books in the ECW Series!

Richmond was home to the Confederate Congress, cabinet, president, and military leadership. And it housed not only the Confederate government but also some of the Confederacy’s most important industry and infrastructure. The city was filled with prisons, hospitals, factories, training camps, and government offices.

This book includes history of Civil War Richmond and a comprehensive list of places to visit in and around the city: the battlefields around the city, museums, historic sites, monuments, cemeteries, historical preservation groups, and more.

I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond tonight.
–General Lee’s telegram to President Jefferson Davis

4 Responses to Petersburg & Richmond: In 1865 & In The ECW Series

  1. Like to learn more why the confederate civilian and military leadership
    continued the war after Hood was demolished at Nashville and Sherman was marching through the Carolinas. Davis may have been untealidticsllybresolute but what was the confederate Congress thinking outside of Stephens to prevent further loss of life and property?

  2. To answer this people need to understand who was making these decisions. Two men and only two need be undetstood,Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Lee was a firm believer in civil control of the Confederate military. In short, Lee obeyed Davis,even though he kept warning Davis that a military disaster was immediately foreseeable. Lee had told Davis as early as November 1864 that once “it became a siege the result was to a degree inevitble”. Lt.Gen. Longstreet had long since known that the war was lost. He fought on out of a sense of duty and a desire to obtain “honorable terms”. When Lee decided to see General Grant Longstreet used those words. He told Lee that Grant would be generous, knowing what Grant had done at Vicksburg and having been to West Point with Grant, Longstreet predicted that Grant would be both honorable and generous. He was correct. Now Davis on the other hand never did understand or accept the military situation in April 1865. Davis thought himself a military genius of the first order. After Richmond fell Davis even attempted to go South to North Carolina to join General Johnston. When he became trapped he even wanted to flee to the Trans-Mississippi where there remained an intact but much diminished Confederate army under Kirby Smith. So intent was Davis to continue to fight that when surrounded by US cavalry he put on his wife’s shawl and attempted to sneak away. Davis was stubborn. Extremely so.
    Part of why the civilian government stuck it out was also fear. They feared the North would hang the lot of them for treason and insurrection. In 1865 there were people like Vice President Johnson that wanted to do exactly that. After Lincoln was murdered President Johnson wanted Lee et al tried and hung for treason. He has Davis tossed into prison. Grant told President Johnson that the US Attorney who obtained a Grand jury indictment against Lee that Lee couldn’t be arrested or tried for any offense he may have committed before April 9, 1865, and told Johnson that Grant would resign if he attempted to do so. The fear the Southerners had was well placed. But if Johnson couldn’t hang Lee-he couldn’t hang anyone.

    1. Good points all round on Davis’ blindness to reality and Lee following his allegiance to his government but my interest is what was the confederate Congress mindset as multiple setbacks occurred with Sherman closing in. Recognize that Judah Benjamin was a sycophant but what was Breckinridge and the leader’s of the Congress influence if any on Davis. Perhaps the answer is that Davis was the government by early 1865 and was absolute. Governors Brown of Georgia and Vance of North Carolina certainly spoke their minds and often opposed Davis’ proclamations.

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