The Battle of Globe Tavern: August 18-21, 1864

   

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in Fourth Offensive

Name: Battle of Globe Tavern

Other Names: Second Battle of Weldon Railroad, Yellow Tavern, Yellow House, Blick’s Station

Location: Dinwiddie County

Campaign: Richmond-Petersburg Campaign (June 1864-March 1865)

Date: August 18-21, 1864

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee, Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, and Maj. Gen. William Mahone [CS]

Forces Engaged: Corps (34,300 total)

Estimated Casualties: 5,879 total (4,279 US; 1,600 CS)

Description: While Hancock’s command demonstrated north of the James River at Deep Bottom, the Union V Corps and elements of the IX and II Corps under command of Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren were withdrawn from the Petersburg entrenchments to operate against the Weldon Railroad. At dawn August 18, Warren advanced, driving back Confederate pickets until reaching the railroad at Globe Tavern. In the afternoon, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth’s division attacked driving Ayres’s division back toward the tavern. Both sides entrenched during the night. On August 19, Maj. Gen. William Mahone, whose division had been hastily returned from north of James River, attacked with five infantry brigades, rolling up the right flank of Crawford’s division. Heavily reinforced, Warren counterattacked and by nightfall had retaken most of the ground lost during the afternoon’s fighting. On the 20th, the Federals laid out and entrenched a strong defensive line covering the Blick House and Globe Tavern and extending east to connect with the main Federal lines at Jerusalem Plank Road. On August 21, Hill probed the new Federal line for weaknesses but could not penetrate the Union defenses. With the fighting at Globe Tavern, Grant succeeded in extending his siege lines to the west and cutting Petersburg’s primary rail connection with Wilmington, North Carolina. The Confederates were now forced to off-load rail cars at Stony Creek Station for a 30-mile wagon haul up Boydton Plank Road to reach Petersburg. Confederate general John C.C. Sanders was killed on August 21.
Result: Union victory1

Summary:

The Battle of Globe Tavern: August 18, 1864:

Warren’s Fifth Corps Gains a Stranglehold on the Weldon Railroad

Note: Click to see maps of the Battle of Globe Tavern, which should help you follow along with the action.

Brief Summary: While Grant’s Fourth Offensive had started four days earlier, on August 14, 1864, with the Second Deep Bottom Campaign north of the James River aimed against Richmond,  that was only half of the story.  After Lee had weakened his lines around Petersburg to protect the Confederate capital, Grant sent General Gouverneur K. Warren and a reinforced Fifth Corps west to the Weldon Railroad, several miles south of Petersburg at Globe Tavern.  Warren was to gain a foothold on this important Confederate supply line and destroy as much as possible.

On August 18, Warren advanced south from the existing Union lines east of Petersburg down the Jerusalem Plank Road and then turned west, marching past Dr. Gurley’s house to hit the Weldon Railroad near Globe Tavern.  He reached the railroad around 9 a.m. on August 18, 1864, one hundred and fifty years ago today.  While Charles Griffin’s Division began to tear up the Weldon Railroad south of Globe Tavern, Warren sent first Ayres’ Division and then Crawford’s Division, to Ayres’ right, north to guard against any Confederate attempts to break this sortie up.

GlobeTavernAug18NPSMap

 

Battle of Globe Tavern: August 18, 1864

By 2 p.m., Heth’s Division of Hill’s Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia assaulted Warren’s two division line, managing to sneak into a gap on the Weldon Railroad where Ayres on the left joined Crawford on the right.  This Confederate assault drove the Union lines back in the direction of Globe Tavern.  Warren mounted a counterattack of his own with portions of all four of his Fifth Corps divisions, backed by the Corps artillery north of Globe Tavern, which managed to regain most of the lost ground.  He began to dig in as reinforcements arrived overnight for both sides.

The Confederates were desperate to remove Warren from his stranglehold on the Weldon Railroad, and would launch more attacks in an effort to do so.  This was only the first of three days of fighting to come.

The Battle of Globe Tavern: August 19, 1864:

Another Devastating Flank Attack by William Mahone Wrecks Crawford’s Division

Note: Click to see maps of the Battle of Globe Tavern, which should help you follow along with the action.

Brief Summary: After Warren gained a lodgment on the Weldon Railroad on August 18, 1864, the Confederates brought on reinforcements the next day to drive him away in the form of three brigades of William Mahone’s Third Corps Division as well as two brigades of Rooney Lee’s Cavalry Division.  The Union had also brought up reinforcements from John Parke’s Ninth Corps.  Parke had replaced Burnside after the Crater debacle from a few weeks earlier.

"Globe Tavern, near Petersburg, Va - NARA - 526157" by Mathew Brady. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Globe_Tavern,_near_Petersburg,_Va_-_NARA_-_526157.tif#mediaviewer/File:Globe_Tavern,_near_Petersburg,_Va_-_NARA_-_526157.tif

Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad. Near Petersburg, Va.

Warren had started digging in around the point where the first fighting had taken place on August 18.  Ayres again held the left and Crawford the right.  Bragg’s Iron Brigade of Cutler’s Division was attempting to act as an extended skirmish line from Crawford’s right to the left of the existing Union entrenchments at Jerusalem Plank Road.

Mahone was placed in command of an ad hoc attack force of three brigades (Weisiger’s Virginians, his own former command from his division, and Colquitt’s and Clingman’s Brigades of Hoke’s Division). As he had done before at Jerusalem Plank Road a few miles east and a few months removed, Mahone used the terrain to overwhelm Bragg’s skirmish line to slip between the right flank of the Fifth Corps and the existing Union Second Corps entrenchments near Jerusalem Plank Road.

GlobeTavernAug19NPSMap

Mahone’s Flank Attack Devastates Crawford’s Division: August 19, 1864

The resulting flank attack hit the brigades of Crawford’s Division from the right and rear, and 2,500 Union soldiers were captured in the resulting chaos.  A frontal assault by Heth’s Division on the Union left and center was repulsed, or the disaster could have been worse.  Warren gathered together reinforcements to attempt to restore the situation. White’s and Willcox’s divisions of the Ninth Corps moved north to take Mahone’s flankers in their own left flank and stabilized the line. Part of Griffin’s Fifth Corps division moved north to link the Fifth Corps left with the Ninth Corps attack on the right.  Warren still held the Weldon Railroad, but he had lost the equivalent of a small division in captured alone in one day.

GlobeTavernAug19Part2NPSMap

Parke’s Ninth Corps Saves the Day

Heavy rain would prevent fighting on August 20, but the Confederates were not done attacking what they hoped was a temporary interruption of their Weldon Railroad supply line.  One more attempt would be made on August 21, 1864, and it was a bloody attempt.

The Battle of Globe Tavern: August 21, 1864:

Hagood’s Brigade is Decimated

Note: Click to see maps of the Battle of Globe Tavern, which should help you follow along with the action.

Brief Summary: After a day of heavy rain on August 20, 1864, which prevented any fighting, A. P. Hill tried one more time to remove the large two corps Federal presence on the Weldon Railroad near Globe Tavern.  Heth’s Division would attack from the north for the third time in four days.  Mahone would try another flank attack, this time against the Federal left rather than the right, which had been solidified after the fighting on August 19.

However, Warren had been busy on the Northern side shortening and strengthening his lines. He pulled back closer to Globe Tavern, and also built a north-south line of entrenchments west of the Weldon Railroad to protect his left flank.

GlobeTavernAug21NPSMap

Confederate Attacks on August 21, 1864

Heth attacked with three brigades (MacRae, Ransom, Kirkland) from the north, but the stronger Federal lines had no gaps and massive artillery support.  The result was a bloody repulse which never even reached the Union earthworks.

Mahone, meanwhile, had a force composed of troops from various divisions, organized into a large ad hoc division under his direct command.  Mahone thought the Union left ended just west of the Weldon Railroad, and he planned to assault frontally with six brigades (Harris, Finegan, Wright, Sanders, Thomas, Scales) while a seventh, Hagood, moved to the south and then came in behind the Federal flank.  The problem was that what Mahone thought was the Union flank was simply a large salient which changed the east-west line to a north-south line of trenches very abruptly.

Hagood, rather than attacking a vulnerable flank, marched into a trap where his brigade was being fired upon from three sides (front, left, and rear).  Only quick action by Hagood himself prevented the capture of the majority of his brigade.  There are several good depictions of this attack in the links below.  Hagood’s men were in part facing the old Iron Brigade of early war fame.  While they were a pale shadow of their former selves, they gave a good account on this day.

This repulse did not yet resign the Confederates that the Weldon Railroad was fully lost.  In the coming days, Hancock’s Union Second Corps, fresh off of the Second Deep Bottom ampaign, was sent to Reams Station several miles to the south of Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad, where it was instructed to tear up even more of the railroad.  The Confederate response was predictably fierce, but that story will have to wait a few more days…

Bibliography:

First Person Accounts:

    Siege of Petersburg Documents Which Mention This Battle:

    Source:


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