By Ralph Peters
In a series of battles between May 4 & June 24, 1864 the Army of the Potomac directed by Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and commanded by Major General George G. Meade clashed with the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, in what would later become known as The Overland Campaign. The ferocity and near daily combat during those two months shocked the divided and warring nation. The combined casualties of both armies totaled over 88,000 men killed, wounded, captured or missing. It was the last year of the war, a baptism of fire that lasted four long years, the beginning of its cataclysmic end, that would forge a new, united nation from its warring factions.
Best-selling author, Ralph Peters, uses the backdrop of The Overland Campaign for his novel, “Hell or Richmond.” From the battles at The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House to The Battle of Cold Harbor Peters graphically covers much of The Overland Campaign.
Officers such as Ulysses S Grant, General-in-Chief of the United States Army; Major General George G. Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac; and Francis Channing Barlow, the Union’s Harvard-valedictorian “boy general,” as well as Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Major General John Brown Gordon, and William C. Oates, Colonel of the 15th Alabama Infantry take their places in Mr. Peters’ narrative beside the enlisted men of both armies.
Historical fiction fills the gaps where its counterpart, nonfiction, cannot go. Peters’ narrative breathes life into his the men of our historical past, and viscerally reveals the life of a civil war soldier before, during and after a battle; the hunger, the dirt and grime, the smell, the blood and gore. Where more often than not historical fiction authors fail, Peters excels and does not hold back with his bloody and gory descriptions of wounds received by 18th century projectiles. His dialogue is sometimes salty and profane, but nevertheless rings true of combat veterans.
Ralph Peters’ “Hell or Richmond” masterfully combines descriptive narrative and coarse dialogue which doesn’t sound as if had been vetted for a prime-time television viewing audience, and successfully transports his 21st century readers to the unpleasantness of the summer of 1864 Virginia.
ISBN 978-0765330482, Forge Books, © 2013, Hardcover, 544 pages, Maps, $25.99. To purchase this book click HERE.