The 93rd Meeting
Clarksville, TN – The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Gateway Hospital. This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and is always open to the public.
This meetings topic is “The Petersburg Campaign”.
Petersburg, located below the James River south of Richmond, Virginia, was an important Confederate supply center and railroad junction. All of the supplies sent to Richmond from the Deep South passed through the city during the war. Accordingly, it became a military target for the Union Army. Defense lines were built, local defense troops raised and industry expanded.
In 1864, the Union military targeted both Richmond and Petersburg with a massive offensive. Union General Ulysses S. Grant used a two-fisted approach to go after these cities; his right hook was aimed at Richmond via the Overland Campaign while the left hook was the Army of the James starting with the Bermuda Hundred attack and subsequent crossing of the James River by Grant’s forces.
Petersburg was first attacked in June along the Dimmock Line east of the city, held by Bushrod Johnson’s Tennesseans, among others. As the Union Army gained strength, they probed south and west seeking to cut the railroads into Petersburg and thus Richmond. With these gone, the Confederates would have to abandon both.
Battles at Ream’s Station, Weldon Railroad, the Crater, Fort Stedman and Jerusalem Plank Road were critical fights to maintain the Confederate hold on the cities. Finally, with Union troops west of Petersburg, the Battle of Five Forks, followed by the massive attack along Hatcher’s Run on April 2nd, 1865, shattered the Petersburg defenses. The Confederates were forced to retreat to the west which ended at Appomattox Court House on April 9th.
Petersburg was the longest continuous campaign of the Civil War and its conclusion set up the immediate defeat of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the loss of Richmond. Some of the biggest names, north and south, fought in the campaign which caused massive casualties. The huge trench systems built by both sides presaged what would happen in World War I in 1916. Despite the size of the campaign, few books have been written on it.
Fortunately for us, we have John Marler, former Petersburg National Battlefield ranger and now Operations Assistant for the Battle of Franklin Trust, coming to tell us the story of all that happened. John’s program will focus entirely on what happened south of the James River, Grant’s left hook. John, in addition to working for the National Park Service at Petersburg, also ran the Appomattox Touring Company which lead tours of the campaign. Since 2009, John has been working at Carnton and the Battle of Franklin Trust rising from a part time employee to his current position.
Please join us for another informative meeting of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable.