Thursday, August 19, 2021

Booknotes: Grant’s Left Hook

New Arrival:
Grant’s Left Hook: The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, May 5-June 7, 1864 by Sean Michael Chick (Savas Beatie, 2021).

From the description: "Robert E. Lee feared the day the Union army would return up the James River and invest the Confederate capital of Richmond. In the spring of 1864, Ulysses Grant, looking for a way to weaken Lee, was about to exploit the Confederate commander’s greatest fear and weakness. After two years of futile offensives in Virginia, the Union commander set the stage for a campaign that could decide the war."

"Grant sent the 38,000-man Army of The James to Bermuda Hundred, to threaten and possibly take Richmond, or at least pin down troops that could reinforce Lee. Jefferson Davis, in desperate need of a capable commander, turned to the Confederacy’s first hero: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard." During the ensuing fighting, Beauregard turned back Butler's army between Richmond and Petersburg and forced a stalemate.

The campaign has been covered well in the literature, with two full-length studies published a year apart in the late 1980s. Both William Glenn Robertson's Backdoor to Richmond and Herbert Schiller's The Bermuda Hundred Campaign are fine, complementary works, though I prefer the former overall. Sean Chick's new ECW book Grant’s Left Hook: The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, May 5-June 7, 1864 is the first serious standalone study to be published since then. It "analyzes and explains the plans, events, and repercussions of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign...The book contains hundreds of photographs, new maps, and a fresh consideration of Grant’s Virginia strategy and the generalship of Butler and Beauregard. The book is also filled with anecdotes and impressions from the rank and file who wore blue and gray."

Grant's Left Hook also includes an 11-stop driving tour. ECW series books often contain interesting essay-length appendix pieces, and those features form a prominent part of this volume. They discuss the Lee-Beauregard command relationship, the flight of President Davis's "most trusted" slave (Jim Pemberton), more details on the June 16-17 fighting at Bermuda Hundred, the story of the effort in some quarters to promote Ben Butler as a presidential candidate to replace Lincoln in 1864, more information on Butler's postwar life, and some preservation history. I'm looking forward to reading it. Hopefully, we'll get Chick's Beauregard book soon, too.

1 comment:

  1. At this nice price point, I can't afford NOT to buy this one. I enjoyed the ECW book on Mine Run, so hopefully this one will be as good. Tom Jones

    ReplyDelete

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