Tag Archives: Petersburg

Cold Harbor to the Crater

Battle_of_Cold_HarborGreetings all – I am very pleased to announce that the latest edition of the Military Campaigns of the Civil War Series, Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign, is available for preorder – due for release from UNC Press in September, 2015. I am exceedingly honored to have an essay in this volume, edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Caroline E. Janney. My focus is on Confederate soldiers and their prospects for victory in mid 1864. You might be surprised by what I have to say.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.20.30 AMBut what’s really great is that I am in exceptional company. Other contributors include: Keith S. Bohannon, Stephen Cushman, Robert E. L. Krick, Kevin M. Levin, Kathryn Shively Meier, Gordon C. Rhea, and Joan Waugh.

How’s that for a group of heavy hitters?

With compliments,


Petersburg in The Birth of a Nation

IMG_3607If you are watching The Birth of a Nation and you are wondering why the battlefield near Petersburg does not look much like Virginia it’s because 1) you have a keen eye and 2) it’s Burbank, California.

I was hiking in the Hollywood Hills the other day and came up on a good vista of the area – now Forest Lawn Cemetery. Much of the scene pictured in the immediate foreground was the Petersburg “set,” which stretched for several miles. Griffith oversaw the scenes from a tower and shouted direction – big megaphone in hand: just as you might imagine a silent film director would look, sans the jodhpurs.

So we have Virginia with chaparral – odd to be sure. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got!

The_Birth_of_a_Nation_war_sceneWith compliments,


Does Anyone Know More About George McKee?

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 2.21.59 PMI was walking around the National Cemetery in Los Angeles today and I came across the grave of Medal of Honor recipient George McKee. McKee was the Color Sergeant, Company D, 89th New York Infantry. He was awarded the medal for gallantry in the assault on Fort Gregg, at Petersburg, April 2, 1865. I know that he was born in Ireland – but that’s about all. I do not know the circumstances of his relocation to California after the war or what he did once he got there. If anyone has more information on McKee (Damian Shiels….I am thinking of you), please let me know.

With compliments,