Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg, The Battles of Chaffin’s Bluff and Poplar Spring Church, September 29 - October 2, 1864

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Richard J. Sommers
Pub Date:
September 2014
Hardcover, 6 x 9
Maps, images, 696 pp
Signed Copies:
Limited quantity


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Click HERE to read all front matter, including new Foreword and Chapter 1

About the Book

Richmond Redeemed pioneered the study of Civil War Petersburg. The original (and long out of print) award-winning 1981 edition conveyed an epic narrative of crucial military operations in early autumn 1864 that had gone unrecognized for more than 100 years. Readers will rejoice that Richard J. Sommers’s masterpiece, in a revised Sesquicentennial edition, is once again available.

This monumental study focuses on Grant’s Fifth Offensive (September 29 – October 2, 1864), primarily the Battles of Chaffin’s Bluff (Fort Harrison) and Poplar Spring Church (Peebles’ Farm). The Union attack north of the James River at Chaffin’s Bluff broke through Richmond’s defenses and gave Federals their greatest opportunity to capture the Confederate capital. The corresponding fighting outside Petersburg at Poplar Spring Church so threatened Southern supply lines that General Lee considered abandoning his Petersburg rail center six months before actually doing so. Yet hard fighting and skillful generalship saved both cities. This book provides thrilling narrative of opportunities gained and lost, of courageous attack and desperate defense, of incredible bravery by Union and Confederate soldiers from 28 states, Maine to Texas. Fierce fighting by four Black brigades earned their soldiers thirteen Medals of Honor and marked Chaffin’s Bluff as the biggest, bloodiest battle for Blacks in the whole Civil War. In addition to his focused tactical lens, Dr. Sommers offers rich analysis of the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and their senior subordinates, Benjamin Butler, George G. Meade, Richard S. Ewell, and A. P. Hill.

The richly layered prose of Richmond Redeemed, undergirded by thousands of manuscript and printed primary accounts from more than 100 archives, has been enhanced for this Sesquicentennial Edition with new research, new writing, and most of all new thinking. Teaching future strategic leaders of American and allied armed forces in the Army War College, conversing with fellow Civil War scholars, addressing Civil War audiences across the nation, and reflecting on prior assessments over the last 33 years have stimulated in the author new perspectives and new insights. He has interwoven them throughout the book. His new analysis brings new dimensions to this new edition. Dr. Sommers was widely praised for his achievement. In addition to being a selection of the History Book Club, the National Historical Society awarded him the Bell Wiley Prize as the best Civil War book for 1981-82. Reviewers hailed it as “a book that still towers among Civil War campaign studies” and “a model tactical study [that] takes on deeper meaning . . . without sacrificing the human drama and horror of combat.”

Complete with maps, photos, a full bibliography, and index, Richmond Redeemed is modeled for a new generation of readers, enthusiasts, and Civil War buffs and scholars, all of whom will welcome and benefit from exploring how, 150 years ago, Richmond was redeemed.


“Richmond Redeemed. . . . became an instant classic in 1980 when first published and remains so today. . . . Its stature in the field of Civil War history, and the broader realm of military studies in general, is assured, and this enhanced 150th Anniversary edition generously rewards any who want an intimate look inside a pivotal operation of the penultimate contest between those two giant figures in the American pantheon, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee and the hundreds of thousands of heroes who followed them.” (William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour)

“A Civil War classic: a model tactical history . . . [that] takes on deeper meaning . . . without sacrificing the human drama and horror of combat.” (Peter S. Carmichael, author of Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee)

“Richard J. Sommers published a book that still towers among Civil War campaign studies. . . . this trend represents the highest mark of excellence in the genre of battle and campaign studies.” (Earl J. Hess, author of In the Trenches at Petersburg)

“All students of the Civil War will read this book with profit and pleasure―so will students of war, of stress, of heroism, of humanity, for this is a book about courage.” (Frank E. Vandiver, author of Mighty Stonewall)

“There can be no question but that here is the definitive history of the fifth offensive in the siege of Richmond.” (James I. Robertson, Jr., author of General A. P. Hill)

“This is military history at its best. . . . the book does what any outstanding work of history is supposed to do: it forces the reader to think. . . . Richmond Redeemed will be for years the standard against which histories of American military campaigns will be judged.” (Richard M. McMurry, author of Two Great Rebel Armies)

Dr. Richard J. Sommers has contributed extensively to Civil War and military history. He retired recently as the Senior Historian of the Army Heritage and Education Center, where he served for more than four decades. In addition to Richmond Redeemed, he has authored more than 100 chapters, articles, entries, and reviews on a wide variety of Civil War topics. Dr. Sommers is the recipient of a host of awards, including the Bell Wiley Prize for the best Civil War book published in 1981-82, the Harrisburg Civil War Round Table General John F. Hartranft Award "for meritorious service," and the Army Heritage Center Foundation General John Armstrong Award "for significant contributions." He is a popular speaker to Civil War audiences, including the Civil War Round Table circuit, and continues to teach at the War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Born in Indiana and educated at Carleton College (B.A.) and Rice University (Ph.D.), Dr. Sommers resides in Carlisle with his wife, Tracy.