First Battle of Deep Bottom
Darbytown or Strawberry Plains
Henrico County, VA | Jul 27 - 29, 1864
Two weeks after Union forces arrived to invest the Confederate defenders of Petersburg, the battle lines of both sides settled into a stalemate. Since Cold Harbor, Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was reluctant to mount a large frontal attack against well-entrenched Confederates. By late June, Grant's lines covered most of the eastern approaches to Petersburg, but neither side seemed ready to risk an offensive move. Determined to break the stalemate, Grant agreed to plans to blow up part of the Confederate defenses with an explosive-filled mine. To draw down possible reinforcements in that area, an offensive was planned for July 27th near a stream east of the James River opposite Bermuda Hundred known to locals as Deep Bottom. For two days, the Union Second Corps under Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, augmented by two brigades of cavalry under Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan, engaged in a series of sharp fights with Confederates under Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson as both sides jockeyed for position along New Market Road on the north bank of the river. Although Hancock’s forces performed well, they were unable to advance west from Deep Bottom and threaten Richmond. Nevertheless, the battle successfully diverted Robert E. Lee’s men and attention in the days before the mine was blown on July 30th, resulting in the Battle of the Crater.