13 February 2015

The Augusta County Historical Society Reviews My Latest Book

Waynesboro-based Civil War *historian Richard G. Williams, who grew up very close to the site of the battle, has written a lengthy and comprehensive analysis of the battle. The focus of the book is the battle itself, but he adds a lengthy description of the events leading up to the battle including useful sections on the lives of Union and Confederate troops including Generals Sheridan and Early. There is an interesting sub-chapter on the merits of Sheridan's "burning" of the Valley from Winchester to Augusta County where Williams reminds readers that Sheridan was acting on direct orders from General U.S. Grant and acted with restraint on some occasions, but he also tells of instances of unnecessary cruelty by Union troops in the Valley. There is a lengthy section on the "Aftermath" of the battle as well as an Appendix section on one Maria Lewis, a Black woman who allegedly rode in disguise with the 8th New York Cavalry during the Civil War.
Williams' The Battle of Waynesboro is a superb study not only of the battle itself, but also of events preceding and following the battle, the leading actors on both sides, and the desperate condition of the Confederacy in the late winter of 1865. His approach is balanced and fair except that he may go overboard a bit in his criticism of Sheridan's "burning" campaign. Williams has done excellent research even using the memoirs of both Generals Early and Sheridan and his very clear writing is a joy to follow. The book is well illustrated. Williams is to be commended for his excellent work. ~ Augusta County Historical Society Bulletin, Volume 50--2014.
And thus, my ego is sufficiently stroked - for now. And I'll gladly accept the criticism regarding Sheridan's affliction with pyromania, though many residents of the Valley in 1864 would doubtless think it impossible to "go overboard" in criticizing Sheridan's shenanigans. Frankly, being accused of going "overboard" in regards to any criticism of Little Phil is a badge of honor. ☺ Many thanks to the good folks at ACHS for even mentioning my book in their latest bulletin. I sincerely appreciate it.

*I have never really been comfortable with referring to myself as a "historian." I'm simply a writer whose focus is the War Between the States and Virginia history. Also, I'm not technically "Waynesboro-based", though I was born in Waynesboro and grew up, for the most part, in that town. I currently reside in Augusta County, about 10 miles from Waynesboro.

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