The “Emerging Civil War Series” Series: Embattled Capital

Today, we’ll hear from both co-authors, Doug Crenshaw and Bert Dunkerly….

Doug Crenshaw

Bert Dunkerly had been working on this book for some time when he approached me and asked if I’d like to contribute. Of course I said “yes!” He told me to go ahead and choose some topics and get on it. Naturally I was interested in battlefields and defenses, so I wrote about them. The battlefields in the Richmond area are extensive, even if many have been lost to development. While the public is familiar with many of them, some are relatively unknown. As for the defenses, many still survive… some are obvious, like Cold Harbor and the Fort Harrison area. But others are out of the way, preserved by the determination of the National Park Service. Due to its efforts, works in housing developments remain protected, even if they aren’t apparent to visitors. In particular, works in the Cold Harbor area reflect the movement of Federal troops during the campaign. Fascinating!

Of particular interest was the slave trade. Knowing little about it, I picked up a copy of Jack Trammell’s The Richmond Slave Trade, and was enthralled. After the fall of New Orleans Richmond was the main trading area in the South. I became totally immersed in hunting down sites such as the African Burial Grounds, Lumpkin’s Jail, and most interestingly, finding the sites of other slave pens and trading sites. In the past, Richmond had done a good job of pretty much “burying” these sites, reminders of a not-so-pleasant past, but they are now coming to the fore. Places I frequent in my regular job were once the scenes of indescribable pain and loss. It was a fascinating experience.

Bert Dunkerly

Working with Doug Crenshaw is never easy…. Ok, it actually is! We divided the work for this book and each worked on different chapters and got photos. An important goal of the book is to highlight lesser-known sites across the city and the area. There are many small historic sites, outdoor exhibits, markers and monuments, and battlefields that are not well known, even among residents. Another was to address common myths and misconceptions. I think the book provides a good guide to sites to visit, as well as a summary of Richmond’s past and turbulent transition over the last few years. Finally, we are pleased that proceeds from the book will go entirely to preservation.

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Embattled Capital: A Guide to Richmond during the Civil War
by Robert M. Dunkerly and Doug Crenshaw
Savas Beatie, 2021

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