Petersburg | The Breakthrough | Apr 2, 1865
Following the Union success at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and George G. Meade determined to make a frontal assault on Robert E. Lee's defenses at Petersburg with four corps of infantry. In the predawn hours of April 2, Gen. Horatio Wright's VI corps crept out of their trenches and charged across no-man's land, punching a hole in the Confederate line. In the confusion following the breakthrough, Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill was killed trying to reach his troops. Elements of the Union II and IX Corps made similar assaults elsewhere along the siege line. A handful of Confederates at Forts Gregg and Whitworth staved off the Union XXIV Corps' assault, preventing the Federals from entering the city that night. But the Federals' main objective—breaking the Confederate line—had been achieved. When nightfall put an end to the fighting, Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. After 292 days of siege warfare, Grant had captured Petersburg, which in turn caused the fall of the capital of the Confederacy—Richmond.