The Battle of Petersburg was the culmination of the Virginia Overland Campaign, which pitted the Army of the Potomac, led by Ulysses S.
Grant and George Gordon Meade, against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In spite of having outmaneuvered Lee, and after three days of battle in which the Confederates at Petersburg were outnumbered by wide margins, the Union forces failed to take the city.
On the fourth day, the Union made a final futile attack that only added to already staggering casualties.
By holding Petersburg against great odds, the Confederacy arguably won its last great strategic victory of the war. In The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864 Sean Michael Chick takes an in-depth look at an important battle largely overlooked in Civil War studies.
By exploring the tactical realities of linear combat that left Union generals without the best means of achieving decisive results, Chick offers a new perspective on why the Army of the Potomac's leadership, from Grant down to his corps commanders, could not win a battle in which it held colossal advantages.
The study also discusses the battle in a wider context, including politics, memory, and battlefield preservation, highlights the role played by African American soldiers in a brilliantly executed night assault that nearly won the battle, and provides a detailed retelling of the famed attack of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, which lost more men than any other Civil War regiment in a single battle.
While the latter phase of the war, dominated by entrenchments and attacks on civilians, was one that veterans and the public alike wanted to forget, Chick demonstrates the lasting significance of the Battle of Petersburg in our understanding of the Civil War.