Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Book Seeks Out True Story of Joshua Chamberlain’s Famous Charge at Petersburg

EL DORADO HILLS, CA: October 5, 2016 – Savas Beatie recently announced the release of author Dennis A. Rasbach’s first book, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and thePetersburg Campaign: His Supposed Charge from Fort Hell, his Near-Mortal Wound,and a Civil War Myth Reconsidered, which thoroughly reviews all of the primary evidence to learn the true story surrounding Chamberlain’s famous charge.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain earned the sobriquet “Lion of the Round Top” for his tactical brilliance leading his 20th Maine Infantry on the rocky wooded slopes of Little Round Top at Gettysburg on the evening of July 2, 1863. Promoted to brigade command, he was presumed mortally wounded during an assault at Petersburg on June 18, 1864, and bestowed a rare “on the spot” battlefield promotion to brigadier general. He survived, returned to the command in 1865, and participated in the surrender of Lee’s veterans at Appomattox.

Chamberlain went to his grave a half-century later believing he was wounded while advancing alone from the future site of “Fort Hell,” against the permanent fortifications of the Dimmock Line at Rives’ Salient, near the Jerusalem Plank Road, through a murderous flank fire from what was soon to become Confederate-held Fort Mahone. In fact, author Rasbach argues, a careful review of the primary evidence left by Chamberlain and his contemporaries suggests that Chamberlain was mistaken regarding the larger context of the engagement in which he fought and fell. An overwhelming body of evidence, much of it derived from Chamberlain himself, demonstrates he actually attacked a different part of the Confederate line in the vicinity of an entirely different road. This part of the Petersburg campaign must now be rewritten to properly understand this important battle, and Chamberlain’s role in it.

Richly illustrated with photos and original maps, and documented with extensive primary accounts, Rasbach’s Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign dispels a well-established Civil War myth and sets the historical record straight.

“Dennis Rasbach’s work is a masterful example of what can be accomplished in Civil War studies when all possible primary sources are joined with serious terrain analysis. The site of Joshua Chamberlain’s charge at Petersburg on 18 June, 1864, has finally been established definitively and the historical record corrected. Rasbach’s work represents a strong addition to the growing literature on the Petersburg Campaign,” said William Glenn Robertson, author of The First Battle for Petersburg: The Attack and Defense of the Cockade City, June 9, 1864.

“Researching, writing, and publishing Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign has been a surprising and rewarding adventure from start to finish,” said Rasbach. “The many little ‘discoveries’ that eventually helped to unlock the historical puzzle turned out to be as thrilling as any diagnostic triumph in my own field of medicine. The network of supportive collaborators and contributors that made the project possible, and the lasting friendships that grew out of it, are priceless. I would not trade the experience for anything.”

About the Author: Dennis A. Rasbach, MD, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is a practicing surgeon and a member of the Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan. The father of two sons, he resides with his wife Ellen in St. Joseph, Michigan.

About Savas Beatie LLC: Savas Beatie LLC is a leading military and general history publishing company. Read more about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and all of their books, at

Contact: Michele Sams, Savas Beatie LLC
Phone: 916-941-6896, Fax: 916-941-6895


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