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Questions Inspired by Ralph Peters’ book The Damned of Petersburg

Ralph Peters’ historic novel was a joy for me to read, yea study. I am constantly amazed how much more there is to know about the Civil War than what paltry amount I have discovered to date. Peter’s novel describes the misery and dedicated sacrifice experienced during the period of the summer of 1864. Severe Virginia heat and humidity, lingering wounds and maladies, and rain and mud. I can speak personally about the torment of those conditions since I lived them in Vietnam.

Here are some questions that stimulated my interest and allowed me to research a bit further for my enjoyment. I hope you find them enlightening as well.

9. Who was the first Confederate officer killed in combat during the Civil War?
Captain John Quincy Marr, commander of the Warrenton Rifles at Fairfax County Court House on 1 June 1861. He was an 1846 graduate of VMI. He was shot with a carbine by Lt. Charles Henry Tompkins on the courthouse steps. Tompkins received the Medal of Honor in 1893 for the first action of a Union officer.

10. What is the name of the third earthen fort built to protect the northern border of the Confederacy and defend the Tennessee River and Cumberland River approaches to the Confederacy?
Fort Heiman, was across the Tennessee from Ft. Henry. It was captured by the US Navy in February 1862.

11. What was the primary union objective of Phelps’ Riverine Raid of 6-10 February 1862?
The destruction of the strategically important Big Bear Creek Bridge on the Memphis & Charleston RR line

12. In what battle did the longest period of hand-to-hand combat in the Civil War occur?
At the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania, Union General Francis Barlow’s Division, part of Upton’s quick assault, was engaged for 21 hours in brutal hand-to-hand before it could disengage.

13. What was the noteworthy event that the barge J.E Kendrick precipitated on Saturday, 5 August 1864 at City Point, Virginia?
It was the loaded ammunition barge that was detonated by John Maxwell who designed the “torpedo” that caused massive destruction at City Point and could have killed Gen. Grant, who was sitting outside his tent. His orderly standing nearby was killed by a shard of debris.

14. General Francis Barlow was known to wear a lumberjack flannel shirt and carried an enlisted cavalryman’s saber in deference to the standard officer’s saber. Why did he chose the heavier side-arm and to what use did he frequently employ it?
He hated stragglers. He used the sword to swat the laggards. He employed a detached company of infantry on line with fixed bayonets behind his division to control straggling.

15. The battles north of Petersburg in July and August 1864 saw Union sharpshooters specifically target what interesting target that had a large effect on Confederate morale?
It was so hot in Virginia that summer that the parched troops were in dire need of water and runners laden with canteens were a desired target of opportunity for Union snipers.

16. Who was the only Confederate to be raised in rank from captain to brigadier as a battlefield promotion?
Brigadier General Victor Jean Baptiste Girardey for his gallantry was a hero at the defense of the Crater. He had been Gen. Mahone’s aide and at a propitious moment drew his sword and led the Virginia Brigade in the counterattack that halted the Union penetration. He was promoted on 3 August and was killed leading the Georgia Brigade on 16 August.

17. What event in the early life of General William Mahone in Southhampton County, Virginia caused him to react so strongly at the Battle of the Crater?
As a 5-year old he survived the Nat Turner rebellion in August 1831 in Southhampton County, hiding in the swamp with his mother to avoid the killing.

18. What Union corps commander commanded his older brother who led a division in his corps?
Major General David B. Birney, commander of the X Corps at the 2nd Deep Run Battle of August 1864 commanded Brigadier General William Birney who led the Third Division. David Birney died in October 1864 of malaria (possibly typhoid or dysentery) in Philadelphia after having been ordered home due to illness.

19. Who was the youngest major general in the Confederate Army?
William Henry Fitzhugh Rooney Lee, a cavalry leader and the second son of RE Lee, was promoted in April 1864. He owned the White House Plantation and served under his cousin Fitz Lee at Antietam. He successfully sued the US government to recover the value of his mother’s plantation at Arlington.

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