In the Trenches at Petersburg

Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat

By Earl J. Hess

432 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 32 illus., 27 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0995-9
    Published: August 2013
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8235-1
    Published: April 2011

Civil War America

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Awards & distinctions

2010 Richard B. Harwell Book Award, Civil War Round Table of Atlanta

In the Trenches at Petersburg, the final volume of Earl J. Hess's trilogy of works on the fortifications of the Civil War, recounts the strategic and tactical operations around Petersburg during the last ten months of the Civil War. Hess covers all aspects of the Petersburg campaign, from important engagements that punctuated the long months of siege to mining and countermining operations, the fashioning of wire entanglements and the laying of torpedo fields to impede attacks, and the construction of underground shelters to protect the men manning the works. In the Trenches at Petersburg humanizes the experience of the soldiers working in the fortifications and reveals the human cost of trench warfare in the waning days of the struggle.

About the Author

Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in history at Lincoln Memorial University. He is author of many books on the Civil War, including, most recently, The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi.
For more information about Earl J. Hess, visit the Author Page.


"Wonderfully written, well researched and easy to read. . . . Highly recommend[ed] to any serious student of the American Civil War. . . . Entertaining and enlightening."--This Mighty Scourge

"Takes an in-depth look at the war's final evolution of field fortifications and countermeasures, and explores the central role they played in the various Union offensives conducted during the ten-month Petersburg campaign. . . . Impressive."-- Civil War Books and Authors Blog

"[Hess's three-volume] set unquestionably deserves recognition as groundbreaking work on an important topic. It will be the standard for years."--Robert Krick, America's Civil War

"The [book is the] result of Hess's indefatigable research in a wide range of sources and his imaginative field study of extant battlefields. . . . This volume and its companions, even more innovative and important than his previous outstanding studies, should give Earl J. Hess his rightful place among the best Civil War historians of our time."--Civil War History

"Humanizes the experience of the soldiers working in the fortifications."--McCormick Messenger

"This excellent book will be of interest to those who appreciate military engineering in siege operations."--The Lone Star

Multimedia & Links

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