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Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, May 26, 2015.
OH MY! Only if I could make that promise - we do have a few places in Winston-Salem offering shucked oysters, including the one below but we never have high expectations, BUT often tasty - Dave
Petersburg Siege - Part 2
After Grant's victory in Chattanooga, TN, Abraham Lincoln brought him east to Washington, D.C. and he was promoted to Lieutenant General - beginning in May 1864, Grant affronted Lee on multiple battles that extended southeast from the Wilderness, through Spotsylvania & Cold Harbor, to finally the 9+ month siege of Petersburg, the topic of this post - first pic below shows these battles and the final movement of Lee to Appomattox Court House where the Civil War ended in April of 1865, so nearly a year of fighting between these two great generals w/ much centered around the siege of Petersburg.
The Petersburg Campaign was prolonged and the battlefield extended over nearly 30 miles from Petersburg to the west near the Pamplin Historical Site discussed in the previous post - Grant's headquarters was at City Point on the James River (off the second map to the upper right corner). The official Petersburg National Battlefield is shown in the next map and is a small representation of the geographic extent of this siege - the Visitor's Center is small w/ a short but good movie (note on the map of the restaurant that we had an excellent dinner in the old historic area of downtown Petersburg - recommended in you are there).
Petersburg was indeed a LONG siege w/ earthworks, trenches, wood spikes, etc. - this really was a prelude to the trench warfare of WW I - the following pics below emphasize this type of warfare w/ a photo of the huge mortar called 'The Dictator' - a couple of stereoscopic images added for those that can cross their eyes to merge the images; at the Pamplin Historical Site, there was a stereoscopic exhibit (w/ colored glasses) that showed numerous 3-D pics of the scenes around Petersburg - pretty amazing views!
Finally, one of the most famous and unfortunate episodes occurred early in the siege, i.e. the Battle of the Crater - second quote below (Source) - the last pics below show a plaque & the reconstructed entrance to the tunnel - we did the Siege Road drive through the park and stopped at a number of places, including the remains of the crater, now not as impressive and covered w/ tall grass - reading the description of the event is much more dramatic - ALSO, this battle was in the start of the film 'Cold Harbor' - next onto Manassas! Dave
Amazing how similar the battles here were to World War I, with the trenches and most importantly, the use of mines; all of it 50 years and more before the fighting in Europe began. Here it lasted for months. In World War I it lasted over 4 years, with a casualty rate even more deadly. I'm sure that some of the generals in the First World War looked back on the later stages of the civil war for ideas.
Here are some Civil War battle maps of the siege of Petersburg and a sketch of Union tunnellers. Finally, a map of the trenches surrounding Petersburg.
Here are some more maps showing the battle of the crater and a photo of the entrance of the mine tunnel.
Hi Scifan.. - thanks for adding the extra maps - there are so many images from this siege that could fill numerous posts - as mentioned, there is a wonderful 3-D stereoscopic exhibit @ the Pamplin Historical Park of numerous dual images of the Petersburg trenches and earth works, also showing the devastation around the area - indeed, a 'no-man's land' foreseeing what was to come in WW I - somewhat eerie.
There were so many 'new' appearances of weapons, iron ships, etc. in the Civil War - another was the Gatling gun (below) which was invented in the early 1860s and was the precursor of the machine gun - so all that was needed to forecast what appeared in the Great War was the invention of tanks & airplanes which required engines running on fuel, treads, rubber wheels, etc.
Concerning sieges in the Civil War, the only other prolonged one that I've visited years ago now is the Vicksburg Siege, another campaign under the charge of U.S. Grant - the pictures from that event are also appalling; in particular, the citizens digging and living in the bluffs of the Mississippi River offer chilling stories. Dave
The Gatling gun was the first practical machine gun and it's modern incarnations are still in use today, mostly in anti-missile defence.
Manassas or Bull Run Battles - Part 1
For the second day of our trip, we left Petersburg heading north on I-95 until the HW 234 exit which took us into the Manassas National Battlefield Park (see first map below) - about a 2 hr drive. This area was the site of two battles, first in July 1861 and the second in August 1862, both Confederate victories. This is a large park w/ a Visitor's Center located on Henry Hill - the film is well done, a small museum is inside, and walking tours w/ National Park guides are given which cover the first battle; in another location of the park, a guide discusses the second battle.
Some battles in the Civil War had different names, i.e. the South would often use a local town or a landmark, thus the battles here were called Manassas, while the Union would typically pick a nearby river or stream, hence the battles of Bull Run (another good example in Maryland is the battle of Sharpsburg, a town or Antietam, a river - September 1862 and Lee's first invasion into the north after the success of Second Manassas) - quoted below is a brief description of First Manassas (Source). The battle involved many 'smaller fights' over a large area and ended on Henry Hill the current site of the Visitor's Center (see 2nd map w/ the black arrow added). This is where the former VMI professor and West Point graduate, Thomas Jonathan Jackson held his ground firmly and acquired the nickname 'Stonewall Jackson.' (a statue of him on horseback is shown below along w/ a portrait).
Henry Hill was a farm and belonged to an invalid widow who was in her bedroom during the fighting - southern snipers were firing from the house and a number of Union cannonballs destroyed the structure and killed Mrs. Henry (one of the early civilian casualties of the war). In June of 1865, a memorial was constructed to honor this first major battle of the Civil war - the remaining pictures below show the monument w/o the house (B&W photo) - a reconstructed 2-story (original was one story) house was built on the original location - Mrs. Henry is buried in a small family cemetery near the 'new' house.
The casualties in this battle were 'light' compared to the many much more bloody encounters that followed - see second quote below (Source); however, both nations were SHOCKED at the deaths & injuries - many felt this would be a short war w/ one or two battles only - after First Manassas and then Shiloh (April 1862 - 23,741 casualties - 13,047 Union and 10,694 Confederate), the country knew that this would be a prolonged bloodbath! Dave
P.S. 'Casulties' in these battles mean killed, wounded, or missing in action.
Very informative and interesting. I learn things I never knew before whenever I read your posts. Keep up the good work.
Manassas or Bull Run - Part 2
Second Manassas occurred just over a year later in August 1862 and much had happened in that time: 1) George McCellan's Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond was initiated in the spring of that year, occupied a number of months, led to a string of small and larger battles, and eventually failed; 2) Joseph E. Johnston (a Southern hero at First Manassas) and field general in charge of the rebel army was severely wounded at the end of May, and Robert E. Lee was put in command and renamed his force the 'Army of Northern Virginia'; and 3) Shiloh, a 2-day battle in southern Tennessee occurred in April w/ SHOCKING casualties to the nations but a victory for U.S. Grant and the Union.
After pushing McCellan off the peninsula (i.e. the one between the York & James Rivers), Lee was supremely confidant and headed north w/ two of his best generals, i.e. Stonewall Jackson & James Longstreet. Robert E. Lee and John Pope were the respective generals in charge for the south and the federals. Quoted below is a brief summary of the battle (Source - click the link for more details, if interested). As in First Manassas, there were many 'little & larger fights' - the Stone House (see arrow on map & several photos) became part of the battle toward the end and served as a hospital. With the combined assault of Jackson & Longstreet, the Union army was driven back toward Bull Run, in part crossing the stream at the Stone Bridge (see other arrow on the map and a pic below of the 'new' stone bridge) - we parked in that area, crossed the bridge and I took a mile walk along a path that followed the water (last image below my own) - the steepness of the banks can be appreciated, one reason for choosing this site for battle back in July of 1861.
As to casualties, the total was over 22,000 - see second quote below for a breakdown between the two armies (Source) - the war had changed since the first encounter on these grounds - future battles until the end would see similar if not larger numbers. Lee's victory here gave him further confidence, and his next move was to invade the north which in September of 1862 resulted in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg, Maryland) - the BLOODIEST single day in American history (over 22,000 casualties in one morning & afternoon of fighting!). Dave