A Wilson Green on"We Have Done all that is Possible and Must be Resigned: The First Petersburg Offensive"
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The epic contest between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee wound its way from the Rapidan River to Cold Harbor in May and early June 1864. Stymied in his effort to either destroy Lee's army or capture Richmond, Grant decided on a bold move. He would shift George Meade's Army of the Potomac and elements of Benjamin Butler's Army of the James across the James River to target Petersburg, the Confederate capital's logistical and transportation hub. Grant executed these challenging logistics brilliantly, in effect freezing most of Lee's forces north of the James while negotiating an uncontested crossing of the mighty James. By dawn of June 15, the Federals were poised to overrun the vastly outnumbered Confederates around Petersburg commanded by P.G.T. Beauregard. Four days later, after fighting that claimed some 15,000 casualties, Beauregard still held Petersburg and the Army of Northern Virginia dug in to defend the city for the next nine months.
The story of Grant's almost flawless movement to and across the James and the Confederates' shockingly successful defense of Petersburg will be the subject of Will Greene's talk. It is based on chapters from his most recent book,Â A Campaign of Giant:s: The Battle for Petersburg, Volume 1.
A. Wilson "Will" Greene was born in Chicago and grew up in Wheaton. He holds degrees in history from Florida State University and Louisiana State University, where he studied under the renowned T. Harry Williams. Greene served sixteen years in the National Park Service, was the first executive director of what is now the American Battlefield Trust, and was the founding director of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Greene is the author of seven books and more than twenty published articles on Civil War history. His latest book, A Campaign of Giants: The Battle for Petersburg (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) is the first of a projected three volumes on the Petersburg Campaign and won numerous awards including best book on American Military History from the Society of Military History. Greene retired in 2017 and lives in Walden, Tennessee.
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