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Petersburg

On June 14th 1864, the Army of the Potomac began crossing the James River. Grant’s plan was to take Petersburg, the vital railroad terminal. When Grant’s troops got to Petersburg, only 2,500 men under General Beauregard were defending the city’s earthworks. The works consisted of ten miles of twenty foot breastworks and trenches with fifteen foot ditches in front. The long line was linked together by fifty five artillery redans which is a small fort or artillery emplacement. The first Union troops to go forward were the 18th Corps under General “Baldy” Smith. Remembering what had happened at the Battle of Cold Harbor where thousands of Union troops were slaughtered while trying to take Confederate earthworks, which took place not even two weeks before, General Smith, was understandably cautious. Unfortunately he didn’t know that it was so weakly defended. Close to sundown he decided to go forward. A member of the 115th New York Infantry passing through three days later recalls the result. “Our forces have taken several works and lines of rifle pits, which we passed on the way, all very strongly made, also captured 14 guns.” [1] Though initially successful, Smith did not continue the assault.

Endnotes

1. 115th Newspaper Clippings p.22.
2. Charles Kline, Civil War Letters, 1862-1864 p. 15.
3. George T. Stevens, Three Years in the Sixth Corps. (Albany: S. R. Gray, Publisher, 1866) p. 365.
4. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1865) p. 138
5. Robert F. Morrow Jr., 77th New York Volunteers: “sojering” in the VI Corps (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Company, Inc., 2004) p. 132.
6. Charles Kline, Civil War Letters, 1862-1864 p. 17
7. James E. Reid, 115th Scrapbook p. 59
8. ibid.
9. ibid.
10. ibid.9
11. James E. Reid, 115th Scrapbook p. 60
12. ibid.
13. A. C. Musgrove, 115th Newspaper Clippings p. 24
14. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. p. 141-142
15. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. p. 145
16. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. p. 150
18. 115th Newspaper Clippings p. 25
19. Charles Kline, Civil War Letters, 1862-1864 p. 20
20. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. p. 153.
21. James H. Clark, The Iron Hearted Regiment: Being an Account of the Battles, Marches and Gallant Deeds Performed by the 115th N. Y. Vols. p. 225.
22. ibid.

Other Sources

Links to unit pages

77th New York Volunteer Infantry

115th New York Volunteer Infantry

 

 

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: March 14, 2006
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/battles/petersburg.htm

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