February 2012 Speaker Highlights
A DAY OF DECISION APRIL 2, 1865, AT PETERSBURG
Boil A. Wilson Greene down to half a page? NOT. It takes that long just to chronicle what a good person he is. Go to his core. There you will find an unquenchable love of the Civil War and those who have rown to embrace it – YOU. Researching correctly for you is his pinnacle. How did we get to that one day in history? Will reminds us the campaign was now 292 days old. He gives us a warp speed run-up mentioning some of the things we remember. How big a Crater does 8000 pounds of dynamite make? Oh, those names we keep hearing at this Day of Decision. A.P.Hill watches his star go lower. Phil Sheridan joins Grant in this Overland Campaign. Pickett has his day ruined by the arrival of whom? Custer! You just had to be there to hear Will “fillet” the famous Pickett “Fish Fry Debacle.” “Even George C.Patton could not have changed The Battle of Five Forks,” quotes Will! Will, you tore at our hearts when you quoted from soldiers at the Fort Gregg Battle. It was truly “The Alamo” of the Confederacy.
Your treatment of this suicide mission (Douglass Freeman calls it “one of the most dramatic incidents of an overwhelming day.”) gives credence to that brave handful of Confederate Soldiers and their desperate last stand. You also reminded us that 14 Union Soldiers received the Medal of Honor at this battle. One can only wish the Confederate Soldiers could be so honored. Their sacrifice only bought a little time to re-enforce Richmond. Don’t think of them as a rag tag beaten people. They had lots of fight. Will restates what everyone knew. Get over the James River and the War is over. His exacting research points to common sense advantages for the North. Grant had good March weather allowing him to build his pontoon bridge and dry roads to travel. He has firepower in a seven shot repeater rifle generously deployed. Grant shuts down the last supply line to Richmond – The Wilmington/Weldon RR. Now Lee must use The Boydton Plank Road which Josh Chamberlin captures for Grant on March 30. Grant and his staff brilliantly use darkness to their advantage on April 1. He has that plucky Vermonter, Charlie Gould, who knows how to make a swamp his advantage. (Twenty will fight with him to claim FIRST thru the line but Will credits Charlie). Most important— Grant has 14,000 Sixth Corp Army opposing just 2800 fiercely determined Confederates. He punches a huge hole in Lee’s outer line Southwest of Petersburg (a rail hub of 18,000 people). His COMPLETE breakthrough gives him Richmond and the War.
Appomattox is seven days later. There is a way, Will, for us to honor those brave soldiers, both North and South, who served at The Petersburg Breakthrough. Go. Learn. Honor them by visiting Will Greene at Pamplin Park –the most recently declared National Historic Landmark of the Breakthrough Battlefield. Will, we join many others who embrace your love of all things Civil War, in a LOUD request: Stop the research and write your book! We can’t wait to read it!
P.S.: A challenge. There is a mouse in the Bronze Sculpture at Pamplin. Can you find it?