The Western Front Battles, September 1864-April 1865 (The Petersburg Campaign, Volume 2)
Edwin C. Bearss, Bryce Suderow
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The wide-ranging and largely misunderstood series of operations around Petersburg, Virginia, were the longest and most extensive of the entire Civil War. The fighting that began in early June 1864 when advance elements from the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and botched a series of attacks against a thinly defended city would not end for nine long months.
This important—many would say decisive—fighting is presented by legendary Civil War author Edwin C. Bearss in The Petersburg Campaign: The Western Front Battles, September 1864 - April 1865, Volume 2, the second in a ground-breaking, two-volume compendium.
Although commonly referred to as the "Siege of Petersburg," that city (as well as the Confederate capital at Richmond) was never fully isolated and the combat involved much more than static trench warfare. In fact, much of the wide-ranging fighting involved large-scale Union offensives designed to cut important roads and the five rail lines feeding Petersburg and Richmond. This volume of Bearss' study includes these major battles:
- Peeble's Farm (September 29 - October 1, 1864)
- Burgess Mills (October 27, 1864)
- Hatcher Run (February 5 - 7, 1865)
- Fort Stedman (March 25, 1865)
- Five Forks Campaign (March 29 - April 1, 1865)
- The Sixth Corps Breaks Lee's Petersburg Lines (April 2, 1865)
Accompanying these salient chapters are original maps by Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley, together with photos and illustrations. The result is a richer and deeper understanding of the major military episodes comprising the Petersburg Campaign.
The heavy rainfall had also rendered it extremely difficult to keep the supplies of war materiél moving to Humphreys’ and Warren’s corps. Warren decided to have the trains, which had accompanied his troops across the Rowanty, moved north of Gravelly Run. Large fatigue parties had to be turned out to help the teamsters. Even so, it was hard going, because the wagons “were nearly immovable in the mud.” Finally, the soldiers had to resort to the time-consuming task of corduroying to get the heavily
the Confederate infantry started to flood across the ford. The troopers, not used to marching, were badly jaded. In an effort to contain the bridgehead, Davies threw his command into the fray. The 10th New York was formed into line of battle astride the road. Major Robbins now succeeded in rallying a portion of his command. The reformed battalion took position on the New Yorker’s left. Corse’s Virginians attacked the roadblock immediately. After delivering two or three volleys, the New York
Confederate lines at Burgess Mill to Five Forks. It was this combined Federal forces that attacked Pickett at Five Forks on April 1. The Confederates lost the battle for many reasons, one of which was because Pickett and his second in command, Fitzhugh Lee, were absent during the battle. Could Lee have won the battle at Five Forks? We will never know with certainty. What we do know, however, is that the Confederates failed to notice that three divisions of infantry and one division of cavalry
U.S. Artillery was armed with four 12-pounder Napoleons; the 1st New York with four 3-inch rifles; the 3rd New York with four 12-pounder Napoleons; Battery G, 1st Rhode Island with four 3-inch rifles; and Battery H, 1st Rhode Island with four 12-pounder Napoleons. OR 46, pt. 1, 660. 11 OR 46, pt. 3, 424. 12 Ibid., 397. 13 Ibid., 407. 14 OR 46, pt. 1, 1009-1012. 15 OR 46, pt. 3, 397-398. 16 Ibid., 422. 17 Ibid., 425. 18 Ibid., 423. 19 Ibid., 399. 20 Ibid., 423. 21 Ibid., 399. 22 Ibid.,
and anchored the defense line covering the railroad from the west. Fort Cummings had been thrown up in early October, after the battle of Peebles’ Farm, and anchored the Union line laid out to secure the ground gained at that time. 22 OR 42, pt. 3, 358. 23 OR 42, pt. 1, 608. 24 OR 42, pt. 3, 359-360. 25 Ibid., 359. 26 Ibid., 361; OR 42, pt. 1, 434. 27 OR 42, pt. 1, 434; OR 42, pt. 3, 362-363. General Baxter commanded Crawford’s 2nd Brigade. The V Corps batteries left to hold the works were