The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign

Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion

  • Author(s): Greene, A. Wilson
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2012-07-31
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $39.95 | Buy Now

The Petersburg Campaign was what finally did it. After months of relentless conflict throughout 1864, the Confederate army led by General Robert E. Lee holed up in the Virginia city of Petersburg as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s vastly superior forces lurked nearby. The brutal fighting that took place around the city during 1864 and into 1865 decimated both armies as Grant used his manpower advantage to repeatedly smash the Confederate lines, a tactic that eventually resulted in the decisive breakthrough that ultimately doomed the Confederacy. The breakthrough and the events that led up to it are the subject of A. Wilson Greene’s groundbreaking book The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign, a significant revision of a much-praised work first published in 2000.

Surprisingly, despite Petersburg’s decisive importance to the war’s outcome, the campaign has received scant attention from historians.  Greene’s book, with its incisive analysis and compelling narrative, changes this, offering readers a rich account of the personalities and strategies that shaped the final phase of the fighting.

Greene’s ultimate focus on the climatic engagements of April 2, 1865, the day that Confederate control of Richmond and Petersburg was effectively ended.  The book tells this story from the perspectives of the two army groups that clashed on that day:  the Union Sixth Corps and the Confederate Third Corps. But Greene does more than just recount the military tactics at Petersburg; he also connects the reader intimately with how the war affected society and spotlights the soldiers, both officers and enlisted men, whose experiences defined the outcome. Thanks to his extensive research and consultation of rare source materials, Greene gives readers a vibrant perspective on the campaign that broke the Confederate spirit once and for all.

A. Wilson Greene is president of Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier near Petersburg, Virginia. He also has taught at Mary Washington College and worked for sixteen years with the National Park Service.