Richard G. Williams Jr.
The History Press, 2014, $19.99, 192 pp.
Image courtesy of amazon
As part of The History Press’ Civil War Sesquicentennial Series, The Battle of Waynesboro is an in depth look into one of the last pushes the Confederacy gave in the Shenandoah Valley. Those familiar with the Civil War know the importance of the Shenandoah Valley’s strategic location and the reason much of the fighting happened there. This clash between General Sheridan and General Early is brilliantly displayed here in this work by Williams and is yet another book which should not be missed in the Sesquicentennial Series by The History Press.
Richard G. Williams Jr. is a well versed historian of the South and specializes in Virginia history, especially the Civil War. He is formally a contributor to the Washington Times Civil War corner along with many other magazines. He is also a contributor to many websites including Virginia Tech’s Virginia Center for Civil War Studies’ Sesquicentennial project. Williams is also a direct descendant of three Confederate soldiers and is a ninth generation great grandson of Revered Roger Williams. Williams is also the author of Christian Business Legends, The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen, and Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend.
As a citizen of Waynesboro, Virginia, Richard G. Williams spends a good amount of time in the introduction giving the readers a look into Waynesboro and into a bit of his family history of the town during the Civil War era. Part of the introduction also seems like an apology for being too close to his subject as both Robertson and Freeman were to Jackson and Lee. While these facts give something to bring the reader closer to the author, it never crossed my mind to criticize him due to his connection to the battlefield. The books chapters create a sectionalized work which creates an ease of reading for many. This work is also supplied by a great amount of pictures which have been submitted by the author from his vast collection. These images help readers for a greater understanding of the narrative. By using a chapter each for both the Union and Confederate side of battle, there is an ease of the narrative instead of attempting to place both sides of the conflict into one chapter. The battle itself is very well written and is well supplemented with official reports, letters and primary sources which show the incredible research which Williams has put into this work. He also supplements the work with period maps. The book ends with an aftermath look into the Battle of Waynesboro and the town to this day including the legacy of the battle.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Shenandoah Valley and or the battles which happened during the American Civil War. The narrative is flowing and, as stated before, supplemented with a great amount of photographs and maps. This work is a great addition to The History Press’ Sesquicentennial Series and a great addition to the study of one of the later engagements of the Shenandoah and the Civil War.