Title page for ETD etd-11172012-040041

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Howe, Thomas J.
URN etd-11172012-040041
Title The first battles for Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Robertson, James I. Jr. Committee Chair
Adriance, Thomas J. Committee Member
Livesay, Harold C. Committee Member
Williamson, Gustavus G. Committee Member
  • Petersburg (Va.)
Date of Defense 1987-06-05
Availability restricted

During June 15-18, 1864, the Federal Army of the Potomac launched a series of attacks against the vital Confederate rail center of Petersburg, Virginia. Union leaders believed that capturing Petersburg would force the abandonment of the Rebel capital at Richmond. The assaults failed, however, and the opposing armies settled into a ten-month siege.

This study investigated the opening battles for Petersburg on three levels. First, the strategic dispositions and movements of the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia are discussed prior to and during the battles. Secondly, the study looks carefully at the tactical situation on each of the four days of fighting. Thirdly, the paper reveals the personal side of combat through the use of soldiersĀ° diaries, letters, and regimental histories. The thesis concludes that Federal failure occurred because of poor Union leadership and staff work, a strong Confederate defense, and extreme exhaustion throughout the Northern army.

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