The 12th Virginia has an amazing history. John Wilkes Booth stood in the ranks of one of its future companies at John Brown's hanging. The regiment refused to have Stonewall Jackson appointed its first colonel. Its men first saw combat in naval battles, including Hampton Roads and First Drewry's Bluff, before embarrassing themselves at Seven Pines-their first land battle-just outside Richmond. Thereafter, the 12th's record is one of hard-fighting from the Seven Days' Battles all the way to Appomattox. Its remarkable story is told here in full for the first time in John Horn's The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown's Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865.
The Virginians of the 12th found themselves in some of the most pivotal battles of the war under Generals William Mahone and later, David Weisiger. After distinguishing themselves at Second Manassas, they were hit hard at Crampton's Gap in the South Mountain fighting and were only able to field 25 men three days later at Sharpsburg. Good service at Chancellorsville followed. Its Gettysburg performance, however, tied to General Mahone's mysterious behavior there, remains controversial. The Virginians played a key role in Longstreet's flank attack at the Wilderness as well as in his near-fatal wounding, launched a bayonet charge at Spotsylvania, and captured their first enemy flag. The regiment truly came into its own during the nine-month siege of Petersburg, where it fought in a host of bloody battles including the Crater, Jerusalem Plank Road, Globe Tavern, Second Reams Station, Burgess Mill, and Hatcher's Run. Two days before the surrender at Appomattox the regiment fought in the rear guard action at Cumberland Church-General Lee's final victory of the war.
Horn's definitive history is grounded in decades of archival research that uncovered scores of previously unused accounts. The result is a lively, driving, up-tempo regimental history that not only describes the unit's marches and battles, but includes personal glimpses into the lives of the Virginians who made up the 12th regiment. Tables compare the 12th's fighting prowess with friend and foe, and an appendix resolves the lingering controversy over the fate of the regiment's last battle flag.
With thirty-two original maps, numerous photos, diagrams, tables, and appendices, a glossary, and many explanatory footnotes, The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War will long be hailed as one of the finest regimental histories ever penned.