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A native of Illinois, John Horn received a B.A. in English and Latin from New College (Sarasota, Florida) in 1973 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1976. He has practiced law in the Chicago area since graduation, occasionally holding local public office, and living in Oak Forest with his wife and law partner, H. Elizabeth Kelley, a native of Richmond, Virginia. They have three children. Horn and his wife travel to the Old Dominion each year to visit relatives, battlefields, and various archives. He has published articles in Civil War Times Illustrated and America's Civil War, and his books include "The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad" (reissued in 2015 in a revised and expanded Sesquicentennial Edition as The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864") and "The Petersburg Campaign" (1993). With Hampton Newsome (author of "Richmond Must Fall") and Dr. John G. Selby (author of "Virginians at War"), Horn co-edited "Civil War Talks: The Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard & His Fellow Veterans" published by the University Press of Virginia in 2012.
The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 has been revised and updated since originally being published in The Virginia Civil War battles and leaders series in 1991. John Horn hopes that this book will increase interest in the August battles around Petersburg and the entire Federal Petersburg siege. According to the author this conflict in Virginia has not received the attention it deserves. He points out that one reason for this disregard by historians is due to the fact that the fighting happened between the battle of the Crater and the fall of Atlanta. Additionally, a significant point is made that Abraham Lincolns Presidential reelection in November of 1864 and Southern independence was partially lost due to these overlooked battles.
Horn's purpose is to show that the siege of Petersburg could have resulted in Lincolns defeat in the Presidential election in November of 1864, the significance of the battles fought in August of 1864, the importance of the siege and which Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia leaders and units performed well and poorly. The author has written many examples of how successful several commanders performed during this important operation and makes numerous significant connections to the ultimate success of the Federals in defeating the Confederates in 1865. He points out that General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee both performed well in some respects and poorly in others.
Included in the revised edition, the writer explains how important it was to have an officer such as Union General Andrew A. Humphreys as chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac.Read more ›
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The Siege of Petersburg tends to be one of the more overlooked and overwritten aspects of the American Civil War due to the waning years of the war. John Horn’s work, The Siege of Petersburg helps to fill in some of the gaps during that lengthy campaign, mainly the battles which surrounded the Weldon Railroad. Not only is this a strong work which has stood the test of time, it is now available for purchase in a special 150th Anniversary Edition which has been revised and expanded. This edition has also, as stated in the introduction, been toned down in the realm of footnotes focusing on the direct quotes. The finished product is a book that has been well polished and is a welcome addition into the annals of history in the world of the Petersburg Campaign.
John Horn has published numerous articles in many different Civil War publications such as Civil War Times, Illustrated and America’s Civil War. He has also published other books such as The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad and the Petersburg Campaign. Along with Hampton Newsome and Dr. John G. Selby, he co-edited Civil War Talk: The Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans. Aside from being an excellent historian, he also practices law and sometimes holds public office.
I had to laugh when I read the introduction to this book and coming upon Horn’s description of the Petersburg Campaign. He stated that it was the Rodney Dangerfield of Civil War campaigns: it gets no respect. Throughout the many books which I have read and reviewed concerning the Petersburg Campaign and its battles in the past year, I have to say that this book is a welcome addition to the collection of works on the event.Read more ›
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Absolutely essential reading if you're interested in the fighting that occurred north of the James River or along the Weldon Railroad SW of Petersburg in August of 1864. Excellent maps are included, a rarity in most CW literature today. They're detailed and will prove helpful for those that like to trek these battlefields. Very pleased to see that Harold Howard publishing allowed Horn to update the original book and maps for this new addition released by a new publisher. We all owe Harold a pat on the back for allowing this revised / updated project to go ahead.
This is a useful examination of one of General Ulysses Grant's efforts to move ahead the results of his siege of Petersburg and, ultimately, Richmond. He had a number of motives for the Weldon Railroad caper. At one level, to take the Weldon Railroad and end the supplies moving along its battered tracks to support the Confederate forces and others. At another level, a major attack might prevent Lee from reinforcing General Jubal Early's forces in the Shenandoah Valley.
The attack had two components--first, an attack at the northern end of the Confederate trenches around Richmond and Petersburg; second, an attack at the other end of the Confederate lines on the Weldon Railroad. It was a complex operation (more so than my rendering of events). First, the Second Corps under General Winfield Scott Hancock, would be the primary voice attacking the Confederate lines outside Richmond. A part of the motivation here was to draw Confederate forces from other trenches to defend against this attack. Then, led by General Gouverneur Warren's Fifth Corps, there would be an attack on the Weldon Railroad at the other end of Confederate defenses, now hopefully denuded of some of its defenders.
The fight at both ends was sanguinary. Union losses were heavy, but Confederate forces bled as well, as they could afford casualties less than Union forces. There were poor tactical movements throughout--especially by Union forces. Hancock "the Superb" was not at the top of his game (he actually ended up involved in both attacks!).
This is a detailed analysis of the "one-two" punch launched by Grant. End results were rather meager, but in the end the Confederate lines were spread further, stretching the limited manpower that much more. And troops intended for Early's mission did not join him.
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