By John Fox
One of the unfortunate realities of the closing days of the Civil War is the fact that so many events happened in such a short period of time that many of the smaller events are overshadowed by the much larger events of Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. One such event was the fighting that took place at Fort Gregg after the Federal Army pierced the Confederate line of defenses to the southwest of Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865, ending a ten month siege and leading to the immediate evacuations of Petersburg and Richmond Virginia.
Author John J. Fox III has written the first ever book length account of the chaotic and bloody battle at Fort Gregg, which would later become known as “The Confederate Alamo,” where, like its namesake, 334 Confederate troops unsuccessfully defended the fort against an assault by 4,500 Federal soldiers.
Mr. Fox’s narrative of the struggle over Fort Gregg is well written, and is easily read. Thoroughly researched, Mr. Fox’s tome is an impressive scholarly achievement. It is a well balanced presentation of the struggle, both inside and outside the fort, giving both the Confederate and Union points of view. In its nearly minute by minute, chronological accounting of the events of battle that raged for nearly two hours, never does the weight of Mr. Fox’s narrative tilt the scale to either side.
The most impressive part of Mr. Fox’s book, however, is not the narrative of the battle but rather the book’s appendices, and the obviously staggering amount of research that had to have been done to create them. The centerpiece of which is the roster of the 334 defenders of the fort. Other appendices cover the Order of Battle, Fort Gregg casualties, Fort Whitworth’s Controversial Artillery Withdrawal, Which Southern Artillery Batteries Helped Defend Fort Gregg, Fort Gregg Medal of Honor Recipients, and the First Union Flag on Fort Gregg Controversy.
To those interested in the Civil War, especially in its waning days, Mr. Fox’s “The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg’s Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865” is a must have.
ISBN 978-0971195004, Angle Valley Press, © 2010, Hardcover, 329 pages, Photographs, Maps, Appendices, Endnotes, Bibliography & Index. $34.95