Tagging the Official Records and More: A Siege of Petersburg Update

by Brett Schulte on February 21, 2019 · 1 comment

OfficialRecordsBooksFor those of you who follow TOCWOC but are not regular readers of my Siege of Petersburg Online site, I thought I’d provide a little update here, the first in quite awhile. I’ve been VERY, VERY busy, so much so that my blogging here has dropped off more than I’d like.  That said, here’s where a lot of time and energy has been dedicated to.

First, I’ve reached a major milestone. I decided to quit focusing on posting and start focusing on certain fundamental things I’ve always wanted to accomplish to make The Siege of Petersburg Online more useful for users.  To that end, I’ve gone through EVERY report in the Official Records which pertain to the Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, including:

In all, there are 1,188 reports from the Siege of Petersburg in the four volumes above!  In addition, I looked through all of the unpublished reports I’ve published on this site over time.

“Tagging” the Official Records Reports for Dates, Battle and Skirmish Names, and Casualties

Why was I going through the reports?  I did so in order to “tag” each one with the following information:

  • dates: every date mentioned in the report
  • battles and skirmishes: every fight, no matter how small, was tagged here (see my Actions and Skirmishes page for a complete and growing list)
  • casualties: if the report mentioned casualties directly via listing them in the report, or linked to formal casualty returns, it was tagged for this category

How Does This Help Readers of The Siege of Petersburg Online?

Tagging the Official Records in this way helps “connect the dots” between battles and skirmishes, dates, and unit pages at The Siege of Petersburg Online. If you click on any tag at the bottom of any post on the entire site, over 6,000 and counting, you can see EVERY SINGLE OFFICIAL RECORDS REPORT which mentions date, battle, and casualty tags.  For example, let’s look at the tag for a relatively obscure skirmish on June 22, 1864 between Union and Confederate Cavalry forces near Reams Station. The tag I used for this fight is “skirmish at reams station (june 22 1864)“.  Clicking on the link in the tag name, you can very quickly see every single Official Records report which mentions this fight.

While you may not be interested in this particular skirmish, I’ve done this for EVERY named skirmish in the Official Records as well as for unnamed skirmishes I’ve been researching.

So:

  • If you go to my Actions and Skirmishes page and click on any of the named fights there, you quickly and easily get a list of every item on this entire Siege of Petersburg site which mentions the fight you’ve clicked on.
  • If you go to my Today in the Petersburg Campaign Pages you can quickly see EVERY Official Records report which mentions that date.  They are all linked and listed on each day’s page.
  • If you go to my Siege of Petersburg Unit Pages, click on a specific unit, and scroll down to the bottom of each unit page, you can quickly and easily see every report written by an officer of that unit over the entire Siege of Petersburg.

In this way I’ve managed to create a “spider web” of information which allows you to come at topics on this site by day, by unit, or by battle to see what the Official Records reports contain on the topic you’ve chosen.

What’s Next?

You are going to continue to see mostly silence from me over the next six weeks.  Here are some things I’m working on behind the scenes:

  • Creating ship pages for every vessel, North and South, which participated in the Siege of Petersburg. These pages should start to go live in April 2019 if all goes according to plan.
  • Starting to go through every page of Official Records Correspondence on the Siege of Petersburg and taking detailed notes on these pages.  This is a massive, massive project, which will take years.  I’m looking at 6 volumes of correspondence, each one nearly or over 1,000 pages long.  My goal is to go through every page, adding the information contained on those pages to my site, especially on unit pages, unit itinerary pages (another side project), Battle pages and Skirmish pagesToday in the Petersburg Campaign Pages, and more.  When I finish, I should have the most accurate and complete Orders of Battle for the Siege of Petersburg ever created.
  • Creating unit itinerary pages which attempt to track every unit involved in the campaign down to regimental/battery/battalion level on every day of the campaign.  Any time ANY source, including reports, diary entries, letters, newspaper articles, and other items mention a unit, a date, and a location, it will be added to the appropriate unit itinerary page.  To date, none of these pages are live on this site, but as I use the itineraries in the Official Records as a base, I’ll start regularly adding these.
  • Returning to regular posting of Newspaper articlesletters and diaries, and other items about the Siege of Petersburg.

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Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dennis Rasbach April 9, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Amazing enhancement of this resource. Your contributions to Petersburg research are monumental! Thanks
Dennis

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