Powhatan Civil War Round Table
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Powhatan Civil War Round Table

DISPATCHES FROM THE POWHATAN CIVIL WAR ROUNDTABLE NEWSLETTER

 

MAY 2018

Just seven days before Robert E. Lee's surrender atAppomattox Court House, during theThird Battle of Petersburg, General Ambrose Powell Hill was fatally wounded on April 2, 1865.  During to the chaos of those waning days of the Civil War, as the southern army attempted to evade Union forces, and the Confederate government prepared to evacuate the capital, the remains of the fallen Virginian began a restless journey that would last decades. 

With the roads filled with evacuees, and 100 miles to the A.P. Hill’s home county of Culpeper, his family made the decision to hastily burry the General in the Winston family burial site, near the site of the old Bellona Arsenal, south of the James River.  Two years after the end of the war, Hill’s family consented to the wishes of the General’s staff, and agreed to have his body reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery.  Nearly three decades later, the decision was made to disinter the remains of General again, which were reburied under a statue of Hill, at the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road.

This month we again welcome Edward S. Alexander, park ranger and historian at Pamplin Historical Park & the National Museum of the Civil War soldier in Petersburg, Virginia.  Edward is responsible for managing the park library, developing and delivering battlefield and campaign tours, and constructing interpretive walking trails for the park and Civil War Trust-preserved sites in the county.

A 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in History, Edward has previously worked with Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Edward is the author of the forthcoming Emerging Civil War Series book Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg.

NEXT MONTH

Thursday, June 21, 2018 - Dan Davis- Battle Flags

MENU OPTIONS

The County Seat offers our members and guests a main course, or the soup and salad bar.  May’s main course will consist of spaghetti & meat sauce, tossed salad, dessert. Please specify your dining preference (main course or soup and salad bar) when you submit your pre-paid reservation, which is due the Tuesday prior to each meeting.  This month reservations must be received by May 15th...

REMINDER

2018 marks the 200 anniversary of the John Brockenbrough Mansion in Richmond.  Over the years, it has served many roles, most famously that of Executive Mansion of Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865. While those four years cemented the house's importance in history, it also was a private residence (1818-1861), a headquarters of Union occupying forces during Reconstruction (1865-1870), the Richmond Central School (1871- 1894), home to The Confederate Museum (1896- 1976), and the fully restored White House of the Confederacy (1988-present). It was one of the first places designated as a National Historic Landmark.

 The American Civil War Museum will mark this bicentennial with a series of monthly programs that focus on the broad sweep of the house’s history and the people who made it. The programs will feature a variety of formats, from panel discussions to interactive tours to “eyewitness” storytelling sessions. The bicentennial programs will be held within the house itself at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They are free to Museum members and $10 for the general public (includes museum admission). A series subscription for the year is available for $100. All proceeds go directly to the White House of the Confederacy.

See our website, and click on the links below for more information:

PCWRT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

If you have an interest in becoming more involved with the PCWRT, or have a special skill to offer, why not consider volunteering? New ideas and new people are the life-blood of any organization, and the PCWRT is no different. We need new volunteers with new ideas to move forward into our second decade. To get involved, please see one of our Leadership Committee members at our next meeting.

CIVIL WAR QUOTES

I was not favorable to the second disturbance and removal of the General's remains, and I believe such were the feelings of a majority of his surviving relatives, as we believe it was wholly unnecessary and furthermore, we think it would have been far more desirable had the monument been erected over the grave in the most beautiful God's Acre in his native State, and where he has been sleeping for nearly a quarter of a century.

Very respectfully, G. Powell Hill

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

See our website’s FAQ page for a list of our most frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question addressed there? E-mail us at PowhatanCWRT@gmail.com  

THIS MONTH IN THE CIVIL WAR 1864 - Courtesy History Learning Site

May 1, 1864 - General Sherman started his advance on the Army of the Tennessee.

May 2, 1864 - The first skirmishes between Sherman’s troops and the Army of the Tennessee occurred. President Davis also told the Confederate government that there was no hope of any form of recognition of the Confederacy by foreign governments.

May 3, 1864 - The Army of the Potomac was ordered to start its campaign against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant claimed that the men in the Army of the Potomac were “in splendid condition and feel like whipping somebody”.

May 4, 1864 - The Army of the Potomac, numbering 122,000 men, crossed the River Rapidan in pursuit of Lee’s army. Lee had 66,000 men under his command. General Sherman’s men prepared for their march on Atlanta. He had 98,000 men under his command.

May 5, 1864 - Grant and Lee’s troops engage en masse for the first time in this campaign. Fighting in the ‘Wilderness’, Lee’s troops had the advantage because the terrain was covered in scrub oak, stunted pines and sweet gum. All this made concealment easy and made Grant’s task far more difficult despite a 2 to 1 superiority in terms of troop numbers.

May 6, 1864 - The Battle of the Wilderness continued. Neither side could claim victory at the end but in terms of casualties the Union could afford to lose more men than the South. The North lost 2236 dead, 12,037 wounded and 3383 missing. The Confederates lost 7,500 men in total.

May 7, 1864 - After a short rest the Army of the Potomac moved off again. This time Grant headed towards Richmond. This time it was Lee who had to be wary of Grant’s movements. The Army of the James was already threatening Richmond to the South.

May 8, 1864 - An attempt by Grant to get his army between Lee and Richmond failed when the Union’s V Corps failed to take Spotsylvania Cross Roads. Sherman continued his march on Atlanta with little, at present, to stop him.

May 9, 1864 - Well-placed and well-dug trenches ensured that the Confederate force opposing Grant was difficult to move and there was a temporary halt to major attacks between Lee and Grant with the Union engaged in a series of reconnaissance raids as opposed to anything more.

May 11, 1864 - The Army of the Potomac spent the day maneuvering into position for an attack primed for

May 12th. Six miles from Richmond, J E B (‘Jeb’) Stuart was killed in a skirmish. The South lost one of its most talented commanders.

May 12, 1864 - The North’s attack against Lee’s army started at 04.30. Their initial assault was a success but a Confederate counter-attack ensured that the North was unable to capitalize on this. The fighting in an area known as ‘Bloody Angle’ – part of the South’s entrenchments – was some of the bloodiest of the war.

May 13, 1864 - The fighting for ‘Bloody Angle’ near Spotsylvania ended at 04.00. The North had lost 6,800 men, the South 5,000. Once again, the Army of the Potomac could afford the losses while the South could not. Grant continued his aggressive approach of looking for Lee’s army. There was little doubt that Grant’s confidence of victory rubbed off on his men. Sherman encountered determined opposition at Resaca. Here the South had built extensive entrenchments and they proved a major obstacle for Sherman and his army.

May 14, 1864 - Heavy rain meant that all forms of movement were curtailed around Spotsylvania.

May 15, 1864 - A Union force commanded by General Sigel was defeated at New Market. Sigel had been sent to defeat Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley. In this he failed. On the side of the successful Confederates was Colonel George Patton, grandfather of the officer with the same name who found fame in World War Two. Sigel was relieved of his command on May 19th. Sherman was unable to make a breakthrough at Resaca.

May 16, 1864 - The North suffered a major defeat at Drewry’s Bluff and lost 25% of their manpower during the battle – 4160 men killed and wounded out of 18,000. The blame was later directed at the lackluster leadership of General Butler.

May 18, 1864 - When the rain stopped Grant launched another unsuccessful frontal assault on Lee’s positions. With increasing casualties, Grant called off the attack. He had clearly underestimated just how well the Confederates entrenchments had been made.

May 19, 1864 - Buoyed by his successes, Lee turned to the Confederates II Corps and ordered an attack on Union lines. This led to heavy fighting between both armies but neither one gained an advantage. By the end of the day the fighting around Spotsylvania had come to an end. The Army of the Potomac had lost 17,500 men. Combined with the loss of men at the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant had lost 33,000 men out of 122,000 in just one month – 27% of the Army of the Potomac’s total. However, Grant still had an army nearly 90,000 strong. There are no accurate figures for Lee’s losses for the same period but they were undoubtedly high. While the Union could sustain their losses, however unpalatable the figure, the South could not.

May 20, 1864 - Sherman continued his advance to Atlanta.

May 23, 1864 - Grant continued in his policy of shadowing Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He had a 2 to 1 advantage in terms of troop strength. The cause of the South was not helped when Lee was taken with a fever and had to retire to bed.

May 24, 1864 - One of the consequences of Sherman’s advance was that he had extended supply lines. On this day a raid by Confederate cavalry on his lines led to the destruction of large quantities of supplies. There was not a great deal Sherman could do about this, as he wanted to continue with his advance to Atlanta and the Confederates were skilled at quick cavalry attacks.

May 28, 1864 - The Army of Northern Virginia moved towards Cold Harbor. By doing this Lee had placed his army between Grant and Richmond.

May 29, 1864 - Lee entrenched his positions around Cold Harbor.

May 30, 1864 - Rather than shy away from contact with Lee, Grant maintained his aggressive stance and faced his army at Cold Harbor.

May 31, 1864 - Sherman’s advance on Atlanta was stalled by Confederate troops commanded by J E Johnston. Their tactics, while never going to defeat Sherman, were sufficient to slow down his army to, on average, just one mile a day.

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