Petersburg | Peebles' Farm & The Breakthrough
Peebles' Farm | September 30 - October 2, 1864
In combination with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s offensive north of the James River at New Market Heights, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant extended his left flank to cut Confederate lines of communication southwest of Petersburg. Two divisions of the Ninth Corps under Maj. Gen. John G. Parke, two divisions of the Fifth Corps under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, and Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg’s cavalry division were assigned to the operation. On September 30th, the Federals departed Fort Wadsworth and marched via Poplar Spring Church to reach Squirrel Level and Vaughan Roads. The initial Federal attack overran Fort Archer, flanking the Confederates out of their Squirrel Level Road line. Late that afternoon, Confederate reinforcements arrived, slowing the Federal advance. On October 1st, the Federals repulsed a Confederate counterattack directed by Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill. Reinforced by Maj. Gen. Gershom Mott’s division, the Federals resumed their advance on the 2nd, captured Fort MacRae which was lightly defended, and extended their left flank to the vicinity of the Peebles and Pegram family farms. With these limited successes, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade suspended the offensive. A new line was entrenched from the Federal works on the Weldon Railroad west to Pegram’s Farm.
The Breakthrough | March - April 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.
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