Review of Sean M. Chick’s The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864

The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864 offers a fresh and balanced look at an engagement that has been often draped in myth. From the start, Sean Michael Chick accurately summarizes the Overland Campaign, detailing the blunders on both sides. He doesn’t let Grant off easily, as many authors try to do, noting at one point his “almost obsessive preference for Sheridan.” When the Army of the Potomac finally reaches the James River, Chick describes how Grant failed to inform key subordinates about the programme to seize the vital transportation hub of Petersburg. Even William F. Smith, who was to lead the assault, learned of his role very belatedly. That the Union Army, demoralized and fatigued from the previous forty days, badly lost the four-day battle for control of the town should come as no surprise. This is a must read for students of the Virginia theatre of war and for those of the Civil War, as a whole.

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