Welcome to The Siege of Petersburg Online, an information compilation site focusing on the Siege of Petersburg during the American Civil War. The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign was, rather than a true siege, a series of nine offensives by the Union forces against the Confederates defending Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia. The campaign for Petersburg lasted from June 15, 1864 until April 2, 1865, claiming 50,000 Union soldiers and 32,000 Confederates. The Siege of Petersburg has been criminally neglected in the study of the Civil War, and this site aims to partially rectify that lack of coverage.
Some of the more complete areas of the site as of February 2020 include:
- Units Pages: Explore every regiment, battalion, battery, and ship which participated in the Siege of Petersburg. These unit pages give you information on a unit, its commanders, how it fit into the army/navy organization over the Nine Offensives, how many men the unit had at a given time, and the numbers and types of weapons the unit was using. Perhaps most importantly, a list of ALL of the posts on this site concerning a given unit appear at the bottom of that unit’s page. All (99% confidence level) units present at the Siege from June 1864-April 1865 are present and accounted for.
- Siege of Petersburg Newspaper Articles: I’m amassing new newspaper articles both during and after the war which describe events at the Siege of Petersburg. My main focus to start will be the articles from two daily papers, the Philadelphia Inquirer on the Union side, and the Richmond Examiner on the Confederate side. I hope to move on two the big three New York dailies (Tribune, Times, Herald), a few Washington, DC papers, which will serve as the main sources for the official dispatches put out by the War Department, and the Petersburg Express, which I bought on microfilm and had digitized especially for this site! The June 1864 section is particularly well represented, but the 150+ articles you see there are just the visible tip of the iceberg. I have many, many more waiting to be transcribed and posted. If you are interested in helping me transcribe newspaper articles, Contact me.
- Maps: I’ve been collecting all of the public domain maps I can find about the Siege of Petersburg. Maps are grouped by Offensive and then by battle. Sources include the Ed Bearss NPS Troop Movement Maps, Official Records, the Civil War Trust, Battles and Leaders, and old regimental histories from prior to 1923. I will be methodically adding new maps which are copyright free as I find them. If you know of available maps I can add to the site, please Contact me.
- Battle Summaries: Are you interested in a specific battle from the Siege of Petersburg? Look no further than my battle summary pages. Each contains a brief description of the battle and gathers together a list of ALL of the posts on this entire site which refer to that specific battle.
- Letters & Diaries: There are thousands of soldier accounts of the Siege of Petersburg written in their own hand. I have a very modest but always growing collection of letters and diaries from men who fought at the Siege of Petersburg. If you know of any others I might be able to use, please Contact me.
- Official Records Reports: Every official report from the Siege of Petersburg from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, well over 1,000 reports, are included in this section. Volume XL covers the period from June 12-July 31, 1864, including the Second Battle of Petersburg and the Crater. Volume XLII covers the period from August 1-December 31, 1864, from the Fourth through the Seventh Offensives. Battles include Globe Tavern, Second Ream’s Station, Fort Harrison and New Market Heights, Peebles Farm, the Darbytown Road battles, Boydton Plank Road, and Warren’s Stony Creek Raid. Volume XLVI covers the action from January 1-April 9, 1865. Battles include Hatcher’s Run, Dinwiddie Court House, Five Forks, the Breakthrough, Fort Gregg, and the Appomattox Campaign. Volume X, XI, and XII of the Navy Official Records will start appearing in 2021. I have “tagged” every single army report for things like battles/skirmishes, dates, casualties, etc., allowing those reports to appear as links all across my site on the relevant date, battle, and unit pages.
- Southern Historical Society Papers: I’ve only just scratched the surface here too, but the goal is to find, transcribe, and annotate every single article on the Siege of Petersburg from the 52-volume Southern Historical Society Papers. This source can be a bit biased due to postwar revisionism, and in many cases dates are incorrect, but it is a valuable source for the Confederate point of view. There are quite a few accounts of the Siege of Petersburg, including many of the lesser known battles.
- National Tribune: For a Union veteran counterpart to the Southern Historical Society Papers, check out articles from the National Tribune, a postwar Union veterans newspaper filled with first person accounts from the Siege of Petersburg. Like the Southern Historical Society Papers, a lot of things tend to be “misremembered” in these accounts, especially as we get further away from the war.
Please consider signing up for The Siege of Petersburg Online’s RSS Feed, which will keep you updated on our progress over the years. I say years because the amount of data planned for this site is massive. For more great information, just left click on the Resources tab at the upper left hand corner of each and every page on the site.
We are always looking for submissions of information pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg. If you are a student of the Petersburg Campaign, please consider contributing as an author here. Use the Contact form at the top of the page if you have information we can use or if you are interested in writing here at The Siege of Petersburg Online.
We Need YOU to Contribute Siege of Petersburg Materials!
Note: If you currently have primary source materials of soldiers who fought in the Siege of Petersburg, we would like to feature those materials at Beyond the Crater. Don’t be shy! Many descendants of soldiers who fought around Richmond and Petersburg in 1864-65 have already contributed meaningful materials already published on this site. Please use the Contact form at the top of the screen to let us know about any materials you would be willing to share. Proper attribution and copyright protection will always be strictly enforced. Your materials WILL make The Siege of Petersburg Online a more useful resource for all students of the Civil War.
My great-great grandfather, Adj. William Beynon Phillips of the 2nd. Pa. Provisional Heavy Artillery was one of 6 officers of the regiment captured at the Battle of the Crater. The 2nd. Pa. Provisional “Heavies” were the first regiment to enter the Crater and emerge out of it as a unit. Prior to his capture he participated in the Union charge of June 17th. and the Siege of Petersburg. Following his capture he was imprisoned at Camp Asylum, Columbia , S.C. I have published 40 of his letters on my blog commemorating his service to his adopted country. Of particular interest is his letters of July 4, 1864 in which he describes the charge of June 17th. 1864 and June 20, 1864 in which he describes in very great detail a night artilley exchange. I invite you to read these great letters.
My 2 x great-grandfather, Confederate Corporal David Land, Company I 13th NC. Infantry served in the Petersburg trenches until his capture April 2,1865. Also serving were two of his nephews, Private John Land Co.B 11th NC. Infantry and Private James Jefferson Land Company D 63rd TN. Infantry. John was mortally wounded on April 2nd and captured while hospitalized in Richmond on April 3rd. He died while still in Federal custody on July 9,1865. James was surrendered and paroled at Appomattox. He was one of 28 remaining of the 63rd TN. One of only 7 remaining of Company D.
My great grandfather Luther Rice Blair of Pittsylvania Co. Virginia was with Capt. Sam Wright’s Company Halifax Va. Heavy Artillery(Also Young’s) and spent most of the war defending Richmond and Petersburg,Rockett’s Landing,Drewery’s Bluff,The Crater. He was on roll at Appomattox for the surrender,so he must have been fighting all the way from Petersburg retreating to Appomattox,one of his brothers,George W. Blair died at Five Forks with the 38th Pittsylvania Co. Vindicators Va. He had another brother Suter F Blair with the 38th that died at Gettysburg in Pickett’s Charge,George was a POW at Gettysburg also in Pickett’s Charge sent to Ft Delaware,then to Point Lookout and eventually exchanged back to Ft Lee. One other brother Samuel Brittain Blair jr. was with the 53rd Inf. Virginia,he and my great grandfather survived the war
I know of letters from Delaware soldiers at Petersburg, but they belong to the state of Delaware and I would have to get permission to use or share them.
My GG Grandfather was Seth Gardner who fought with the 185th Infantry, Company C out of New York. He was from Onondaga County N.Y. He fought at the Battle of Five Forks and was present when Lee surrendered to Grant. Seeking a photograph of his Company and Or of him.