Bearss, Edwin C., Suderow, Bryce & Wyrick, William. The Petersburg Campaign Volume 2: The Western Front Battles September 1864-April 1865. Savas Beatie LLC (March 2014). 600 pp., 38 illustrations, 25 maps, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN: 978-1-61121-104-7 $34.95 (Cloth).
The Petersburg Campaign Volume 2: The Western Front Battles September 1864-April 1865 by Ed Bearss and edited by Bryce Suderow, is the second collection of the unpublished manuscripts Bearss wrote for the National Park Service during the 1960’s. Volume I is also available. I first learned of the existence of these manuscripts from Bryce Suderow in 2003, and was able to obtain copies from Petersburg National Battlefield. As you’ll read in the blurbs on the back cover, many authors familiar to Siege of Petersburg enthusiasts utilized Bearss’ work while writing their own books on the campaign. For the first time, thanks to Bryce Suderow and Savas Beatie, all of these manuscripts have been collected together and published in this two-volume set.
As in the first volume, Bryce Suderow edited this collection. He adds introductions, bridging material, and conclusions to help place the manuscripts in the proper context. One major battle, the Battle of Fort Stedman, was not the subject of an original Bearss manuscript, and Suderow recruited William Wyrick to pen that chapter. Wyrick had previously authored a Blue and Gray Magazine issue on Fort Stedman.
The maps by George Skoch, 25 in number, are impressive and very detailed for a book on the Petersburg Campaign, though they typically go down only to the brigade level. The number of maps on Dinwiddie Courthouse and Five Forks, as well as the inclusion of a map on Lewis Farm (March 29, 1865) were some of the highlights.
As in the first volume, Bearss’ manuscripts rely heavily on the Official Records and available regimental histories. The bibliography gives readers a good selection of books for interested readers to track down, many of them freely available at Google books or the Internet Archive.
A pretty neat feature is the inclusion of an interview with Ed Bearss on the inside of the book cover.
Look for a full review here coming soon as I’m able to read the book in its entirety. Also keep an eye on the book’s permanent page at The Siege of Petersburg Online as I write about it in the coming weeks. I’ll leave you with Savas Beatie’s YouTube trailer for the book. It’s available for purchase now if you’re interested.