I’ve been a fan of Gary Gallagher’s edited series, Military Campaigns of the Civil War, from the beginning. The individual volumes introduced me to some of the most interesting historians in the field and went far in shaping what I know about Civil War military history and how I think about battles and campaigns.
So, you can imagine my surprise when back in 2008 I was asked to contribute an essay for a planned volume covering Cold Harbor to the Crater. I prepared a chapter from what became my book on the Crater. Unfortunately, the project fell through and that was the last I heard of it until a little over a year ago when Gallagher notified me that the project was being resurrected and now included Caroline Janney as co-editor. While I was incredibly excited about the news I had no idea what I might contribute. It made no sense to submit something that had already been published in book form so I set out to think about what aspect of the Crater I had not sufficiently covered.
Not knowing what I would find, I ended up researching how white Union soldiers assessed their experience fighting alongside the Fourth Division at the Crater. I touched on this briefly in the book, but given that much of the focus is about how the white South remembered the battle there seemed little reason to go further. I wish I had.
I am incredibly honored to have been asked to contribute and essay to, From Cold Harbor to the Crater. Having read a few of the essays already in manuscript form I can safely say that this is an exceptionally strong volume. It includes a few core contributors, who have been with the series from the beginning, and a number of new historians. No doubt, many of you will be pleased to see an essay by Gordon Rhea, which focuses on material included in the final volume of his Overland Campaign series.
Here is the table of contents:
- “The Two Generals Who Resist Each Other: Perceptions of Grant and Lee in the Summer of 1864 by Gary W. Gallagher
- Repairing An Army: A Look at the New Troops in the Army of Northern Virginia in May and June 1864 by Robert E. L. Krick
- “I Told Him to Go On”: Enduring Cold Harbor by Kathryn Shively Meier
- “Breastworks are Good Things to Have on Battlefields”: Confederate Engineering Operations and Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign by Keith S. Bohannon
- Francis Channing Barlow: From Harvard to Petersburg by Joan Waugh
- Grant’s Disengagement from Cold Harbor: June 12-13, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea
- “We Will Finish the War Here”: Confederate Morale in the Petersburg Trenches, June and July 1864 by M. Keith Harris
- “A War Thoroughfare”: Confederate Civilians and the Siege of Petersburg by Caroline E. Janney
- “The Devil Himself Could Not Have Checked Them”: Fighting With Black Soldiers at the Crater by Kevin M. Levin
- The Battle of the Crater in Recent Fiction by Stephen Cushman
Additional volumes covering the last phase of the Petersburg Campaign through Appomattox, along with First and Second Bull Run, are in the planning stages. I will keep you updated on this project, but as it stands the University of North Carolina Press is planning a Fall 2015 release.