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150 Years Ago Today: The Second Battle of Deep Bottom, Day 1: August 14, 1864

The Second Battle of Deep Bottom: August 14, 1864:

The Federals Advance on New Market Heights

Note: Click to see maps of the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, which should help you follow along with the action.

Brief Summary: On June 21st, Grant ordered Foster’s Brigade of Butler’s Army of the James to cross the James from Bermuda Hundred — and establish a bridgehead at Deep Bottom. Deep Bottom is a piece of land next to James River and is about ten or eleven miles from Richmond and posed a major threat to Richmond since the bridgehead could be reinforced at any time and the Federals could mount expeditions from it to capture Richmond. The Confederates on hand were commanded by Gen. Custis Lee. They did not even attempt to drive the Federals back across the river.

In late July 1864 Grant sent the X Corps and Sheridan’s cavalry to threaten Richmond. He hoped to force Lee to recall troops from Early’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. The result was the First Deep Bottom Campaign of July 27-29, 1864. Although they won two minor battles, the Federals failed to capture Richmond. However, they did succeed in forcing to Lee to strip his Petersburg defenses of most of his infantry, and this deception allowed Burnside to attack on July 30th with only three Confederate divisions opposing him.

Grant launched the Second Deep Bottom Campaign because he mistakenly thought that Lee had sent several divisions of infantry to reinforce Early in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant sent the II Corps, part of the X Corps and Gregg’s cavalry division to threaten Richmond and force Lee to recall the infantry divisions from Early.

Early on the morning of August 14th, the X Corps crossed the pontoon at Deep Bottom and attacked the skirmishers from Field’s division who composed the Confederate left flank. These skirmishers were deployed along the Kingsland Road, half a mile south of the main Confederate entrenchments on New Market Heights. The X Corps drove in the skirmishers and the Confederates fell back to New Market Heights.

2nd Battle of Deep Bottom Aug. 14, 1864 (Julie Krick)


Map Created By Julie Krick for Richmond Battlefields Association’s Fussell’s Mill Page

Portions of Anderson’s Georgia Brigade occupied the Confederate left and defended some seacoast howitzers the Confederates had assembled to shell Deep Bottom. The Georgians were driven back and the howitzers were captured.

Shortly after this action ended, Hancock’s II Corps landed from ocean going steamers at Tilgman’s Wharf and two divisions threatened the Confederate left flank. A cavalry brigade succeeded in repulsing two Union attacks and gave the Confederates time to shift Field’s infantry to the left. Two of Anderson’s regiments helped repulse the final Union attack of August 14th below Fussell’s Mill on the Darbytown Road.1


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  1. Summary for the Second Battle of Deep Bottom used with permission by Bryce Suderow.
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