The Eastern Front Battles, June-August 1864 (The Petersburg Campaign, Volume 1)
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 Eastern Front Battles, June - August 1864, the first in a ground-breaking two-volume compendium.
edge of the Crater, some Michiganders from Willcox’s division fired off a last few rounds then humped it to safety. Except for some mop-up operations, it was over. The sublime defense of Elliott’s Salient came with a cost. Mahone’s division lost nearly 600 men, and Elliott’s brigade of Bushrod Johnson’s division suffered 700 casualties, including 351 missing. After all the reports came in, total casualties for the Army of Northern Virginia stood over 1,600 for the day. Considering the odds of 5
additional troops to accomplish the task. Upon receipt of these instructions, Beauregard advised Lee that from Union prisoners, he had ascertained that troops from Hancock’s II Corps (Mott’s division) had relieved the IX Corps in the Petersburg trenches. Information sent in by officers in the signal stations seemed to confirm this intelligence. Beauregard assured Lee that every man that could be spared from the trenches had already been withdrawn and concentrated for another attempt to drive the
Baltimore: Kelly, Piet & Co., 1871. Peabody, Frank E. “Some Observations Concerning the Opposing Forces at Petersburg on June 15, 1864.” In Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, Vol. 5. Boston: Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, 1906. Porter, Charles H. “Operations against the Weldon Railroad, August 18, 19, 21, 1864.” In Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, vol. 5. Boston: Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, 1906. Powell,
had been identified belonged to Beauregard’s Army. The latest intelligence reports placed the Confederates’ strength in the Petersburg area at 30,000 as opposed to 55,000 bluecoats.197 Meade, at 10:00 a.m., addressed a note to Birney requesting information as to how the situation was developing in the II Corps sector. A short time before, Meade had received a dispatch from Martindale reporting that his troops would be unable to cross Harrison Creek until Gibbon’s division advanced. Consequently,
brigades retired into the Petersburg perimeter, were captured by the VI Corps’ picket line. None of these proved to be very “intelligent or communicative.” About all the Union intelligence people could learn on questioning them was that while most belonged to Finegan’s Florida brigade, several came from other brigades of Mahone’s division, with one or two from Kirkland’s brigade of Heth’s division.177 Wright’s skirmishers, by 10:15 a.m., had advanced to the position occupied by the picket line