In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat

Univ of North Carolina Press
2
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In the Trenches at Petersburg, the final volume of Earl J. Hess's trilogy of works on the fortifications of the Civil War, recounts the strategic and tactical operations around Petersburg during the last ten months of the Civil War. Hess covers all aspects of the Petersburg campaign, from important engagements that punctuated the long months of siege to mining and countermining operations, the fashioning of wire entanglements and the laying of torpedo fields to impede attacks, and the construction of underground shelters to protect the men manning the works. In the Trenches at Petersburg humanizes the experience of the soldiers working in the fortifications and reveals the human cost of trench warfare in the waning days of the struggle.

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About the author

Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in history at Lincoln Memorial University. He is author of many books on the Civil War, including, most recently, The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of North Carolina Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2011
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780807882351
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / United States
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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For decades, military historians have argued that the introduction of the rifle musket-with a range five times longer than that of the smoothbore musket-made the shoulder-to-shoulder formations of linear tactics obsolete. Author Earl J. Hess challenges this deeply entrenched assumption. He contends that long-range rifle fire did not dominate Civil War battlefields or dramatically alter the course of the conflict because soldiers had neither the training nor the desire to take advantage of the musket rifle's increased range. Drawing on the drill manuals available to officers and a close reading of battle reports, Civil War Infantry Tactics demonstrates that linear tactics provided the best formations and maneuvers to use with the single-shot musket, whether rifle or smoothbore.

The linear system was far from an outdated relic that led to higher casualties and prolonged the war. Indeed, regimental officers on both sides of the conflict found the formations and maneuvers in use since the era of the French Revolution to be indispensable to the survival of their units on the battlefield. The training soldiers received in this system, combined with their extensive experience in combat, allowed small units a high level of articulation and effectiveness.

Unlike much military history that focuses on grand strategies, Hess zeroes in on formations and maneuvers (or primary tactics), describing their purpose and usefulness in regimental case studies, and pinpointing which of them were favorites of unit commanders in the field. The Civil War was the last conflict in North America to see widespread use of the linear tactical system, and Hess convincingly argues that the war also saw the most effective tactical performance yet in America's short history.

Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.

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