5,0 su 5 stelleGrant’s brilliantly conceived and executed maneuver
28 ottobre 2017 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Really good. I have read several books about the Civil War and its battles and campaigns and causes, but never one quite like this. Disclosure: I have not read any of the preceding books in this Overland Campaign Series of Rhea; this is the first one (and the last in the series.) The book covers the events of 12 days: from the conclusion of the heavy fighting at the Battle of Cold Harbor to just before the beginning of the nine-month siege of Petersburg, focusing in particular on Grant’s brilliantly conceived and executed maneuver of secretly extricating the Army of the Potomac from its Cold Harbor entrenchments just yards away from the Confederate lines, and -- unbeknownst to Lee until almost too late -- moving that massive army and all of its supply wagons southward across the imposing James River to move on Petersburg hoping thereby to cut off Lee’s supplies and force the abandonment of Richmond and hopefully bringing about an imminent end of the war.
I can’t imagine any other book drilling down to this almost hourly detail of these days. That an entire book could be written on a 12-day period in the Civil War when – although there was certainly sharp fighting – there was no major pitched battle involving the two armies as a whole on the scale of previous battles and to make it very interesting and engaging is amazing in itself.
Rhea writes with authority using letters and reports of officers and soldiers of the time as well as accounts of journalists following the action. The maps in the book are excellent, along with the helpful Order of Battle in the Appendix and lengthy notes and bibliography.
The author concludes with an epilogue that sums up his entire Overland Campaign set of books and assesses the degree to which Grant and Lee each succeeded and failed both strategically and tactically. Thumbs-up recommendation.
5,0 su 5 stelleGreat book, great maps, and a brilliant description of the end of the Overland Campaign
2 ottobre 2017 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
This is an excellent book and a fitting end to the five volume series the author wrote on the Overland Campaign. I was especially impressed with the high quality maps and the evocative description of the miserable day to day existence in the trenches on the Cold Harbor front after the June 3 general assault. The strategic logic and impact of Grant's move to the James River is explained in great detail and reinforces my belief that Grant was an extraordinarily capable general. The tactical implementation of Grant's strategy is told in a clear to understand fashion. The reasons for the failure of Grant's overall strategy to capture Petersburg in June 1863 are clearly explained. The author's extensive research and narrative skill help one understand the complexity of military operations and how even the most brilliant plan can fall short given human failings, hard fighting by the enemy, the "fog of war" and the difficulty in coordinating separate military commands. This is a great book which should be read by anyone who wants to understand what happened at Petersburg in June 1864.
4,0 su 5 stelleA Fitting Completion to the Overland Campaign
26 febbraio 2018 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
I thought this volume the best of Rhea’s series on the Overland Campaign of 1864. It is particularly strong in setting the operational and strategic context, and in its treatment of the movements of the armies. The maps are well done, helpful, and complement the text.
Another feature of the book is two well written chapters on the Federal approach to and subsequent attack on the fortifications east of Petersburg. They provide the reader with a clear understanding of how the “friction” of war found the forces involved ending up where they did, and how it affected the outcome, i.e., it is clear that the fact that the city was not taken was not due gross incompetence but rather the accumulation of smaller problems and errors. The points raised by the author in his overview of the events of June 15 are well taken, but omit two significant aspects. First, relations between Butler and W.F. Smith were not good, stemming from the earlier Bermuda Hundred campaign. Smith proved to be quite risk-averse in command, but Butler was too deferential to him and proved incapable of forcing him to act or accept risk, while Smith did not trust or respect Butler. It is not surprising that Smith found it necessary to “start over” in developing an attack plan once he reached the Dimmock Line, with the result that it was not overrun until the evening, too late to enter Petersburg. Second, a possible reason for the lack of urgency in the operational orders regarding Petersburg is that Grant and Meade by this time both expected the campaign to end in a siege (quoted to this effect by Rhea in this and prior volumes), at Richmond, if not at Petersburg. It is completely unfounded to imply or assume that if the Army of the Potomac had taken Petersburg, the war would have ended soon thereafter. Given the morale at the time, is it plausible to assume that the Confederacy would have given up while both of its major armies were still considered to be relatively strong and capable? Also, the idea of the siege of Petersburg as a particularly bloody phase of the war, and so better avoided, is an exaggeration at best. The recent book, "The Army of the Potomac in Overland and Petersburg Campaigns", demonstrates that siege had an overall positive effect on morale and combat effectiveness compared to the Overland Campaign.
Finally, the review of the Overland Campaign given in the last chapter is excellent. I wish though the author would have emphasized that the almost continuous engagement of the two armies was an innovative operational breakthrough for its time. While exhausting and costly, not only did it eliminate the offensive capabilities of the Army of Northern Virginia, it forced the Confederacy to commit the bulk of its reserves to the Army of Northern Virginia at the expense of the Army of Tennessee and its coastal defenses.
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