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150 Years Ago Today at Petersburg: March 20, 1865

March 20, 1865

Ulysses S. Grant invites President Lincoln to come down to City Point for a visit, with Lincoln replying he will come down soon.

The 18th New Hampshire leaves Bermuda Hundred and the Army of the James, joining Ninth Corps, Army of the Potomac. The unit is assigned to 3rd Brigade, First Division.

Special Orders No. 79 officially assigns Brigadier General Ranald S. Mackenzie to command the Cavalry Division, Army of the James, replacing Brigadier General August V. Kautz, who is assigned to command First Division, Twenty-Fifth Corps, Army of the James.

Major General George L. Hartsuff reorganizes his Defenses of Bermuda Hundred in General Orders No. 34 into an infantry division and an artillery brigade.

Artillery duel on Ninth Corps’ front near the Avery House in the afternoon.

Brigadier Joseph Finegan, commander of a Florida Brigade in Mahone’s Division, Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, is relieved from that command and ordered to report to duty in Florida.

Confederate Artillery Chief Brigadier William N. Pendleton orders Col. R. P. Chew, the commander of the Confederate Horse Artillery to organize as follows for the coming spring campaign:

  • Hart’s Battalion, consisting of Hart’s SC Battery and Graham’s VA Battery, are to serve with General Butler’s Cavalry Division.
  • McGregor’s Battalion, consisting of McGregor’s VA Battery and McClanahan’s Battery, are to serve with General W. H. F. “Rooney” Lee’s Cavalry Division.
  • Breathed’s Battalion, consisting of Shoemaker’s VA Battery and Griffin’s Battery, are to serve with General Fitz Lee’s Cavalry Division.
  • Johnston’s Battalion, consisting of Johnston’s Battery and Jackson’s Battery, are to serve with General Lomax’s Cavalry Division.
  • Lurty’s Battery is to serve with General Rosser’s Cavalry Division.

William Nelson Pendleton issues Special Orders No. 13, in order to perfect the Army of Northern Virginia’s artillery arrangements for the coming campaign:

  • McLaughlin’s Battalion, stationed far to the west of Richmond, is brought in and ordered to man the guns of Fort Clifton.
  • Chew’s Battery, McIntosh’s Battalion, Third Corps will be consolidated with Griffin’s Battery, Breathed’s Battalion, Horse Artillery.
  • Chamberlayne’s Battery, Owen’s Battalion, Third Corps will be moved to McIntosh’s Battalion, Third Corps, replacing Chew.
  • Dickenson’s Battery and Walker’s Battery, Owen’s Battalion are assigned with Douthat’s Battery, newly arrived from Western Virginia, to a new battalion under Lieutenant Colonel King which will serve heavy guns below Richmond.
  • Nelson’s Battalion, Braxton’s Battalion, and Cutshaw’s Battalion, all under the command of Col. Thomas H. Carter, will be re-equipped for the field as soon as possible.

General James Longstreet advises General Robert E. Lee that the next Union step will probably be a raid of the Danville Railroad, and that the Confederates should place all dismounted cavalry in the trenches and hold one full infantry corps and a large cavalry force in readiness to oppose this move.

Note: All “Today In The Petersburg Campaign” blog entries are used with permission from Ronald A. Mosocco’s Chronological Tracking of the American Civil War per the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Order the book HERE.

Copyright © 1993, 1994 by Ronald A. Mosocco

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