James S. Price
The History Press, 2014, 158pp., $19.99
Image courtesy of amazon.com
During 2014, there have been many works on the many battles throughout the Siege of Petersburg. In all of these accounts, there has been a great amount of new research due to the lack of coverage over the campaign of Petersburg as a whole. One of the books about the Petersburg siege is James S. Price’s book The Battle of First Deep Bottom. Throughout the text, there is extensive research into the process of the battle and a great use of primary sources. Supplemented by photographs taken during the conflict and clear maps, The Battle of First Deep Bottom is a great look into one of the lesser known battles of the Petersburg Campaign.
James S. Price is the Historic Site Manager for the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park in Prince William County. In 2009, he received his Masters of Arts in Military History from Norwich University. His first book, The Battle of New Market heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword, was nominated for the fifteenth annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Price also writes on the many aspects of the Civil War on his blog “Freedom by the Sword: A Historian’s Journey thought the American Civil War Era.”
If there is one thing I can say about this book, it is that the narrative shows the tension between all of the members of the high command mainly in the Union army. One of the things which I enjoyed about this book is the humanity of Winfield Scott Hancock away from his mythological stance of his Gettysburg exploits. Here, at the Battle of First Deep Bottom, he seems to drop the ball when it comes the way in which he handles his situation. One of the better things about the book is the profiles of the commanders on both sides which he opens his work with. This narrative also tells us that this was a more pivotal battle than the previous works on the Petersburg Campaign has given attention to in the past. Both the Union and Confederate army fought greatly for the area in and around Petersburg. In the preface, Price mentions the veterans who knew that the great battles would always be mentioned but the gallantry of places like the Battle of First Deep Bottom would never be mentioned. Even in the last paragraph, Price mentions that this battle cries out for more scholarship to be devoted to the study.
In these works celebrating the anniversary of the Petersburg Campaign, great studies have come about to give us a greater understanding of the separate battles throughout the time. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Petersburg Campaign or anyone interested in General Hancock after the Gettysburg Campaign. James Price has created a readable narrative which flows greatly along with a well-researched work that is extensively resourced. The Battle of First Deep Bottom is greatly important to the overall campaign of Petersburg and thanks to James Price, there is now a cohesive comprehensive account concerning the engagement. Highly recommended.