The nine-month siege of Petersburg was the longest continuous operation of the American Civil War. A series of large-scale Union “offensives,” grand maneuvers that triggered some of the fiercest battles of the war, broke the monotony of static trench warfare. Grant’s Fourth Offensive, August 14-25, the longest and bloodiest operation of the campaign, is the subject of John Horn’s revised and updated Sesquicentennial edition of The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.
Frustrated by his inability to break through the Southern front, General Grant devised a two punch combination strategy in an effort to sever the crucial Weldon Railroad and stretch General Lee’s lines. The plan called for General Hancock’s II Corps (with the X Corps) to move against Deep Bottom north of the James River to occupy Confederate attention while General Warren’s V Corps, supported by elements of the IX Corps, marched south and west below Petersburg toward Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad. The plan triggered the battles of Second Deep Bottom, Globe Tavern, and Second Reams Station, bitter fighting that witnessed fierce Confederate counterattacks and additional Union operations against the railroad before Grant’s troops dug in and secured their hold on Globe Tavern. The end result was nearly 15,000 killed, wounded, and missing, the severing of the railroad, and the jump-off point for what would be Grant’s Fifth Offensive in late September.
Revised and updated for this special edition, Horn’s outstanding tactical battle study, which emphasizes the context and consequences of every action, is supported by numerous maps and grounded in hundreds of primary sources. Horn puts Grant’s Fourth Offensive into its proper perspective not only in the context of the Petersburg Campaign and the war, but in the context of the history of warfare.
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About the Author
A native of the Chicago area, John Horn received a B.A. in English and Latin from New College (Sarasota, Florida) in 1973 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in the City of New York in 1976. He has practiced law around Chicago since graduation, occasionally holding local public office, and living in Oak Forest with his wife and law partner, H. Elizabeth Kelley, a native of Richmond, Virginia. They have three children. He and his wife have often traveled to the Old Dominion to visit relatives, battlefields, and various archives. John has published articles in Civil War Times Illustrated and America’s Civil War. His books include The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad (republished in 2015 as The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, with a dust jacket based on a painting of a soldier from the town where John has his law office winning a Medal of Honor on August 16, 1864), and The Petersburg Campaign. With Hampton Newsome (author of Richmond Must Fall) and Dr. John G. Selby (author of Virginians at War), John co-edited Civil War Talks: The Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard & His Fellow Veterans. This was a sequel to Bernard’s War Talks of Confederate Veterans, which was published in 1892. Civil War Talks was ready for publication in 1896 but disappeared until 2004, when it was found in a flea market, purchased for fifty dollars, and sold to the History Museum of Western Virginia for $15,000. Bernard served in the Petersburg Regiment. John blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org.