The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown’s Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865

Current Stock:
John Horn
Pub Date:
May 2019
Cloth, 6 x 9, d.j.
Maps, images, index. 452 pp
Signed copies:
Will be available. Email us for info!

Buy the Kindle eBook in December 2018!

About the Book

The 12th Virginia has an amazing history. John Wilkes Booth stood in the ranks of one of its future companies at John Brown’s hanging. The regiment refused to have Stonewall Jackson appointed its first colonel. Its men first saw combat in naval battles, including Hampton Roads and First Drewry’s Bluff, before embarrassing themselves at Seven Pines—their first land battle—just outside Richmond. Thereafter, the 12th’s record is one of hard-fighting from the Seven Days’ Battles all the way to Appomattox. Its remarkable story is told here in full for the first time in John Horn’s The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown’s Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865.

The Virginians of the 12th found themselves in some of the most pivotal battles of the war under Generals William Mahone and later, David Weisiger. After distinguishing themselves at Second Manassas, they were hit hard at Crampton’s Gap in the South Mountain fighting and were only able to field 25 men three days later at Sharpsburg. Good service at Chancellorsville followed. Its Gettysburg performance, however, tied to General Mahone’s mysterious behavior there, remains controversial. The Virginians played a key role in Longstreet’s flank attack at the Wilderness as well as in his near-fatal wounding, launched a bayonet charge at Spotsylvania, and captured their first enemy flag. The regiment truly came into its own during the nine-month siege of Petersburg, where it fought in a host of bloody battles including the Crater, Jerusalem Plank Road, Globe Tavern, Second Reams Station, Burgess Mill, and Hatcher’s Run. Two days before the surrender at Appomattox the regiment fought in the rear guard action at Cumberland Church—General Lee’s final victory of the war.

Horn’s definitive history is grounded in decades of archival research that uncovered scores of previously unused accounts. The result is a lively, driving, up-tempo regimental history that not only describes the unit’s marches and battles, but includes personal glimpses into the lives of the Virginians who made up the 12th regiment. Tables compare the 12th’s fighting prowess with friend and foe, and an appendix resolves the lingering controversy over the fate of the regiment’s last battle flag.

With thirty-two original maps, numerous photos, diagrams, tables, and appendices, a glossary, and many explanatory footnotes, The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War will long be hailed as one of the finest regimental histories ever penned.


A native of the Chicago area, John Horn received a B.A. in English and Latin from New College (Sarasota, Florida) in 1973 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in the City of New York in 1976. He has practiced law around Chicago since graduation, occasionally holding local public office, and living in Oak Forest with his wife and law partner, H. Elizabeth Kelley, a native of Richmond, Virginia. They have three children. He and his wife have often traveled to the Old Dominion to visit relatives, battlefields, and various archives. John has published articles in Civil War Times Illustrated and America’s Civil War. His books include The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad (republished in 2015 as The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, with a dust jacket based on a painting of a soldier from the town where John has his law office winning a Medal of Honor on August 16, 1864), and The Petersburg Campaign. With Hampton Newsome (author of Richmond Must Fall) and Dr. John G. Selby (author of Virginians at War), John co-edited Civil War Talks: The Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard & His Fellow Veterans. This was a sequel to Bernard’s War Talks of Confederate Veterans, which was published in 1892. Civil War Talks was ready for publication in 1896 but disappeared until 2004, when it was found in a flea market, purchased for fifty dollars, and sold to the History Museum of Western Virginia for $15,000. Bernard served in the Petersburg Regiment. John blogs at