NP: June 28, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer: The Siege of Petersburg, June 25-27, 1864

   

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in June 1864

THE SIEGE OF PETERSBURG.

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Cannonading near Bermuda Hundred on Saturday [June 25, 1864]—Sheridan Attacked while Crossing the James—The Rebels Repulsed—Five Miles of the City Point and Petersburg Railroad Finished—Wilson Gone on Another Raid—General Foster Attacks Chapin’s Bluff

WASHINGTON, June 27—The steamer Highland Light arrived here [Washington, DC] at 11 o’clock from City Point, which place she left at 10 o’clock yesterday morning [June 26, 1864].1

The Highland Light brought up the Eighth Ohio Volunteers, commanded by Major [ALBERT H.] WINSLOW, whose term of service has expired. The regiment numbers 151, officers and men.2

There has been no very heavy fighting within the last few days, but skirmishing is kept up all along the lines. The cannonading at times is heavy.

Firing was heard about five miles from Bermuda Hundred on Saturday [June 25, 1864], where General BUTLER is intrenched.

The enemy made an attack upon BUTLER’s intrenchments, but did not succeed in effecting anything, and were driven off.3

On Saturday [June 25, 1864] the Rebels attacked Sheridan’s rear at Wilcox’s Landing, and captured a few of his men.4

A brigade of infantry was at once despatched to protect SHERIDAN’s rear, and the enemy was kept back till Sheridan had succeeded in crossing the [James] river with his entire train.

The [new US Military] railroad is advanced five miles from City Point towards Petersburg.5

Yesterday [June 26, 1864], just before the Highland Light left [at 10 am], heavy firing was heard in the direction of Petersburg.6

On Saturday night [June 25, 1864] the Rebels made an attack on our pickets, about the centre of our line, as they were being relieved, but were repulsed, with little or no loss to our troops.7

On the heights beyond Petersburg the Rebels have an eighteen-gun battery, bearing on the centre of our lines in front of that place.

The battery has been very troublesome, and so far has proved too heavy for any artillery that we have brought against it.

[Third Division of the Cavalry Corps commander James] WILSON has gone on another cavalry expedition, and good news from him may be expected soon.8

A Rebel captain and four privates came into BUTLER’s lines on Friday [June 24, 1864] and took the oath of allegiance. Two hundred Rebel prisoners were at City Point yesterday morning [June 26, 1864].

Reported Movement of General Foster.

NEW YORK, June 27 [1864].—The [New York] Commercial Advertisers’ [army?] letter of June 25th states that General [Robert S.] FOSTER’s force, of the Tenth Corps, has probably ere this attacked Chapin’s Bluff, and perhaps captured it.9

This would permit the erection of a strong counter [work?] to operate against Fort Darling.10

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Article Image

18640628PhiladelphiaInquirerP1C1SiegeOfPetersburg

Source/Notes:

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: City Point was Grant’s headquarters at the Siege of Petersburg, a well as the main supply depot for the Union armies operating against Richmond and Petersburg.  Ships of all kinds often ran routes from City Point to Washington, DC and other Northern ports.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: The number of officers and men listed here, 151, is not a present for duty number. Here is why.  First, rear echelon men who had been on detached or special duty are included in this number. Second, the officers and men whose terms of service had NOT expired were consolidated into two companies and sent to finish their terms with the 4th Ohio.  I am not sure of the number of either of those groups of men, making it impossible to determine how many men were truly present for duty the day before this unit left the front. This number is the number of men present.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is one of those rare cases where I cannot find anything further on the fight mentioned here.  No mention of a fight on Butler’s Front on the Bermuda Hundred line exists in the Official Records, Volume XL, Part 2 for either June 25 or 26, 1864.  There IS a mention of an attack on Burnside’s Ninth Corps front at 10 pm on the night of June 25, but this is clearly meant to describe something other than the attack on Burnside’s skirmish line. If you know what this fight might be and where it happened, please Contact Us.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: This article is proving annoying.  Sheridan’s forces were NOT attacked in force at Wilcox’s Landing on June 25, 1864, though there was great fear in the Federal high command that this might happen.  See the Official Record, Volume XL, Part 2, especially the entries from June 24-26, 1864, for details.  To confirm that there was no major skirmish of any kind at Wilcox’s Landing on June 25, 1864, see Eric Wittenberg’s excellent book Glory Enough For All: Sheridan’s Second Raid and the Battle of Trevilian Station. At the end of the chapter on the Battle of Samaria Church, Wittenberg makes clear that although the Confederates followed Sheridan to the James River, they found no good avenue to attack, and Sheridan escaped across the James on June 25-26, 1864.
  5. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Union army was a logistical machine during the Siege of Petersburg.  Here we are, less than two weeks from the time the Union first appeared in front of Petersburg, and US Army Engineers were already creating a “United States Military Railroad” from their supply depot on the James River at City Point all the way behind their front lines. In this case, they just had to repair the existing railroad from City Point to Petersburg, but they would soon create a branch line running behind the Union trench lines for miles as they extended south and southwest of the doomed city of Petersburg. This work would continue throughout the Siege, and was highly successful.  One illustrative story mentions that in some cases bread reaching front line troops would still be warm from the ovens at City Point!
  6. SOPO Editor’s Note: I can find no evidence of what this firing might have been after looking through the pages of the Official Records, Volume Xl, Part 2 which cover June 26, 1864.
  7. SOPO Editor’s Note: Finally I found an account which corroborates something in this article.  Around 10 pm on the night of June 25, 1864, Burnside’s Ninth Corps was attacked on its skirmish line. Burnside was attempting to strengthen that skirmish line to make it a more advanced main line.  He was trying to cover the mining work being done which would eventually result in the Battle of the Crater over a month later.
  8. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is describing the Wilson-Kautz Raid, which was nearly at its end by the time this was published.
  9. SOPO Editor’s Note: Elements of Foster’s Third Brigade, First Division, Tenth Corps, Army of the James crossed the James River at Deep Bottom in late June 1864 and established a bridgehead there.  This bridgehead was a constant thorn in Robert E. Lee’s side.  From it, the Union army could launch an attack at a moment’ notice, and would do so in July and August 1864 during Grant’s Third and Fourth Offensives against Petersburg. As a result, Lee was constantly seeking ways to eliminate or otherwise control this bridgehead. Foster was not crossing the James River to launch an attack, as the New York Commercial Advertiser speculated.  The Chaffin’s Farm area would not be directly attacked until the September 29-30, 1864 Battle of Fort Harrison, months in the future.
  10. “The Siege of Petersburg.” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA). June 28, 1864, p. 1 col. 1

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Fulton September 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Brett,

I can add a bit of confirmation for your SOPO editor’s note # 4 (“Sheridan’s forces were NOT attacked in force at Wilcox’s Landing on June 25, 1864 …Wittenberg makes clear that although the Confederates followed Sheridan to the James River, they found no good avenue to attack, and Sheridan escaped across the James on June 25-26, 1864.”)

In Henry Jeffers’ (7th SCC) letter of July 4th, 1864:

“Camp near Chafins Farm
July 4th 1864

Dear Pa,

I have just heard of a chance to send this letter to a point beyond where the Rail Road is broken. Since the 24th ultimo, we have been quiet. On the 24th we had the fight with Sheridan, and account of which I wrote and sent by Capt T [Trenholm], who left Richmond yesterday morning….”

Unfortunately the letter he mentions, the one describing the fight against Sheridan on the 24th, is not in my collection – maybe never reached his father’s home back then. But this letter states his squadron was detached from the regiment (which was at Malvern Hill) and was camping on the James River below Chafin’s Farm in order to remain on picket duty “all the time.” So Henry would have been aware of any major skirmishing.

Lisa

Brett Schulte September 3, 2020 at 8:53 am

Thanks Lisa! You are doing what I really should be doing as I research and post these: check EVERY unit history and other source I have for regiments which might have been involved. I try to pick and choose which rabbit holes to go down and leave the others in my notes. I get comments and emails randomly every once in a while which solve these little mysteries. You just helped me faster than usual here!

Brett

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