Embattled Capitol; a guide to Richmond during the Civil War, by Robert M. Dunkerly and Doug Crenshaw, Savas Beatie, 194 pages, Emerging Civil War Series. A Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table review by Arley McCormick
Embattled Capitol is another installment of the Emerging Civil War series published by Savas Beatie. It is a quick, informative read. Robert M. “Bert” Dunkerly is a historian, award-winning author, and speaker who is actively involved in historic preservation and research. He works as a park ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park and Doug Crenshaw, a longtime volunteer for Richmond National Battlefield, leads tours of the battlefields around the former Confederate capital and is a member of the Richmond Civil War Roundtable.
Richmond encapsulates a mini history of the Confederacy complete with involvement in the slave trade, home to local units that fought the good fight, hospitals, prisons, cemeteries, and an abundance of battles and battlefields that surround the city testify to the intent to preserve the city and government. And, this guide also addresses more recent museums and landmarks including reconstruction and life after the confederacy.
Most casual and committed students of the Civil War are aware of the cry from the New York Tribune citing “On to Richmond” as a quick end to the Southern rebellion. And why not, it was the symbol of an unacceptable government; its capitol. Richmond’s story is the story of the Confederacy in a single land mark. It suffered famine, riots, possessed notorious prisons, Confederate martial law, extensive construction for defense and eventually Federal occupation. It was the home of Libby and Belle Isle Prison, industry, (Tredeger Iron Works), and the White House of the Confederacy. The dreams of an independent nation crushed by assorted reasons that capture the imagination of historians, novelists, and cinema
The authors begin with Richmond’s journey long before the Civil War and recount the February 1861 failure of Virginia to leave the Union and how Lincoln, with a call for troops to put down the rebellion, pushed Virginia into the Confederate fold and ultimately by May was its Capitol.
The authors very succinctly review the impact of war on the community as train loads of wounded and captured Union soldiers changed the landscape of Richmond after First Manassas and they continue the narrative, supported by maps, short descriptions of battles near the city and the ultimate fall to the Union Army.
Appendix C – The Most Important Convention That Has Been Assembled in This State Since the Year 1776: The Virginia Secession Convention, stands out. Rob Orrison lays out the Secession Convention in detail.
Anyone taking a trip to Richmond needs this guide.