Virginia’s Bloody Soil

Saturday, May 3, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Virginia’s Bloody Soil sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  One hundred and fifty years ago the Battle of the Wilderness was to be fought in two days, the opening act in Grant’s Overland Campaign which would see 55,000 Union casualties and 33,000 Confederate casualties in under two months.  By the end of the campaign there were cries of “Grant the Butcher” throughout the North, the price of gold had doubled and Lincoln seemed destined for defeat in the fall.  However, Petersburg, the rail nexus that supplied Richmond from the south, was under siege by the Army of the Potomac, and Grant could fully replace his casualties while Lee could not.  A very grim war was about to get a lot grimmer a century and a half ago as it remorselessly ground towards its conclusion.

 The song is a moving post-war tribute to Captain Dennis Edwin Barnes, Company C, 93rd New York.  He raised the company and led it throughout the War, until he was killed in action at The Wilderness on May 6, 1864.  He was 26 or 27 at the time of his death.  Just one of the many fallen heroes we owe our United States to.

Captain Dennis Edwin Barnes

3 Responses to Virginia’s Bloody Soil

  • Now oil spills cover the blood and debt is money.

  • The Richmond Times Dispatch did a good overview on Sunday for the commemoration of the campaign. Gordon Rhea, a South Carolina lawyer who has written a four volume history of the campaign that in my view is the best, will be in central Virginia for the many events marking the various stages of the campaign.

    It was Grant’s bloody, unimaginative, slogging, attrition-style warfare which eschewed strategy and ignored casualty rates (at least 2-1 against the Federals) which led Winston Churchill to describe Grant’s Overland campaign as “the negation of generalship.”

  • I have not read Mr. Rhea’s tomes, but I will have to put him on my lengthy list of books to read.

    “which led Winston Churchill to describe Grant’s Overland campaign as “the negation of generalship.””

    Considering that Grant won I’d dispute Sir Winston’s judgment. Churchill was always looking for shortcuts to victory short on casualties and ended up with three military disasters as a result: Gallipoli during WWI and the Italian and Dodecanese Campaigns during WWII.

    Against third raters like Pemberton Grant could do maneuvers and take risks. Against a Great Captain like Lee I think Grant’s sledgehammer approach was wise and inevitable. There was no shortcut in taking down Lee and his fabled Army of Northern Virginia.