The Fall of Petersburg

This is Ranger Tracy Chernault talking about the siege of Petersburg and how the city fell to Union forces.  This was the first session of the Day One of the 16th Annual Longwood University Civil War Seminar.

The video’s description reads, “Tracy Chernault talked about the long standoff between the armies of Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant in the entrenchments outside of Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864 and the final battles in 1865. He spoke about the importance of supply lines to both armies and the disparity between the Union and Confederate armies’ access to food and ammunition.

“ ‘The Fall of Petersburg’ was a session of the 16th annual Longwood University Civil War Seminar. The seminar took place from March 13-15, 2015, at the Jarman Auditorium on the Campus of Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.”

This is a really good presentation.  This is yet another reason why the National Park Service deserves our support.  They do a great job.


  1. Rosemary · · Reply

    Ah. I was hoping you would post this talk.

    Is it true that Gordon’s confederates failed in their attack on Fort Stedman because they broke ranks to pilfer union quarters? Speaker made it sound like that was why attack failed, I never heard the story told this way before. I heard that the attack at first succeeded and a union general was captured but then union got it together and drove confederates back (and general was un-captured)… Was union successful primarily because rebs got off task?

    There was something else in that talk I was hoping to ask you about — I have to watch it again because I can’t remember now..

    The other talk on cspan this weekend was Richmond 1865 about photography. I want to strangle that cspan camera person. I swear, cspan camera people must be bored silly at some of these talks because they focus on views that seriously fail to aid their mission of providing information to viewers. I want that camera job… and I want to interview the speaker (and make him settle down)… Ah well. Journalists never die even if the profession is in the ICU.


    1. The pilfering was definitely one factor that led to the breakdown of the attack. Also, they couldn’t find the supply depot that was their next objective. I have to give the C-SPAN folks some slack. There’s usually just one or two folks, and they’re usually not familiar with the talk, so they have a big job to not only capture the talk but also the audience. Some of the cameras are remotely operated, so a camera may be pointed in the wrong direction for a view and by the time it can be pivoted to point in the right direction the slide is gone and the speaker’s moved on.

      P.S., I’d like to tell the speaker that he was referring to a lectern, not a podium, at the beginning of his talk.

  2. Rosemary · · Reply

    I remembered my other question:
    The speaker says the Union 5th corps was pulled from the lines so it could form up for review by Lincoln and Grant.
    I find this hard to believe but maybe there is something about military ways that I am missing… Could this be done without abandoning the post?

    1. Yes. Not every part of the line was busy at all times, so it could be done. Sometimes reserve troops could be moved into their place.

  3. Rosemary · · Reply

    Interesting… never figured me for interest in soldiers’ stuff. Thnx.
    Re cspan: you are too nice. Cspan shows a lot of the backs of people’s heads/ a lot of turned-away faces as speakers look at their power points as they make their points.. Cspan is in the broadcasting biz – experts. If they use robot cameras, they should stop. People need jobs and robots lack capacity for art.

    1. We have to keep in mind that C-SPAN is a nonprofit. They don’t have the money to pay a large crew.

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