The Battle of Big Bethel: Crucial Clash in Early Civil War Virginia by J. Michael Cobb, Ed Hicks, and Wythe Holt is the first full-length treatment of the small but consequential June 1861 battle that reshaped both Northern and Southern perceptions about what lay in store for the divided nation. In the spring of 1861, many people in the North and South imagined that the Civil War would be short and nearly bloodless. The first planned engagement of the war at Big Bethel, however, provided undeniable evidence of just how wrong popular opinion could be. Major General Benjamin F. Butler was in command of Union forces at Fort Monroe, Virginia, at the tip of the peninsula between the James and York rivers only ninety miles from the Confederate capital at Richmond. Thanks to the foresight of Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, President Abraham Lincoln's elderly chief military adviser, thousands of troops had been assigned to Butler to protect the fort, eventually threaten Richmond, and perhaps bring a quick end to the war. Opposing the Yankees was the aggressive and dramatic Col. John Bankhead Magruder, who decided to lure Butler into a fight. Magruder fortified a strategic swampy creek crossing, skillfully placed several artillery pieces, selected excellent defensive positions for his 1,500 men, and camouflaged the whole with brush. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Butler marshalled about 4,000 men for a daring dawn attack. Years in the making, The Battle of Big Bethel relies upon letters, diaries, newspapers, reminiscences, official records, and period images - some used for the first time. The authors detail the events leading up to the encounter, survey the personalities as well as the contributions of the participants, set forth a nuanced description of the confusion-ridden field of battle, and elaborate upon its consequences. Here, finally, the story of Big Bethel is colorfully and compellingly brought to life.
Publisher: Savas Beatie
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 152 x 229 x 25 mm
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