By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On this Memorial Day weekend, there’s a new look at a transformative time of the Civil War.
Hell or Richmond, by Ralph Peters, covers not one battle but several in the 30 days from May 5th to June 3rd, 1864.
Gettysburg, what Peters calls the last Napoleonic battle nearly a year in the past, Union General U.S. Grant presided over the dawn of modern warfare, with rapid fire weapons, longer range artillery, casualty evacuation and trenches. The telegraph brought the illusion of fast information.
“Grant, at Cold Harbor, stayed in his headquarters ’cause he thought the telegraph would bring him all the information he needed to know. He didn’t see the battlefield over which he ordered men to attack, which resulted in grim slaughter, until the attack was over,” says Peters.
This book, like Cain at Gettysburg before it, is a historical novel which Peters hopes is the key to teaching a subject too often ignored.
“I want to lure people back into studying our history,” through the eyes of troops on both sides, some with attitudes quite unappealing in modern times he says.