As the Overland Campaign concluded, the strategic goals of Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant shifted from defeat of Robert E. Lee's army in the field to eliminating the supply and communication routes to the Confederate capital at Richmond. The city of Petersburg, 24 miles south of Richmond, was the junction point of five railroads that supplied the entire upper James River region. Grant knew Petersburg was the key to the capture of Richmond and that Lee would be forced to defend it. Marching south from Cold Harbor, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac began crossing the James River on transports and a 2,200-foot long pontoon bridge at Windmill Point on June 14th. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James crossed the Appomattox River and attacked the Petersburg defenses on June 15th. The 5,400 defenders under command of Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard were driven from their first line of entrenchments back to Harrison Creek. On June 16th, the Second Corps captured another section of the Confederate line; on the 17th, the Ninth Corps gained more ground. Beauregard stripped the Howlett Line around Bermuda Hundred to defend the city, and Lee rushed reinforcements from other elements of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Second, Eleventh, and Fifth Corps from right to left attacked on June 18th but were repulsed with heavy casualties. By this point, the Confederate works were heavily manned and the greatest opportunity to capture Petersburg without a siege was lost.