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150 Years Ago Today: Second Battle of Deep Bottom: August 18, 1864

The Second Battle of Deep Bottom: August 18, 1864:

Lee Counterattacks at Fussell’s Mill

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

Brief Summary: On August 18, 1864, as Gouverneur Warren’s Fifth Corps was taking the Weldon Railroad at Globe Tavern and preparing for massive Confederate counterattacks south of Petersburg, General Lee was himself in command of Confederate forces north of the James River at Fussell’s Mill, intent on sending cavalry around Winfield Hancock’s right flank.  Once Hancock became aware of the threat and retreated, Lee would deliver an infantry assault at Fussell’s Mill in an attempt to cut Hancock off from the James River and deal him a severe blow.

The day did not go according to plan, and an 11 am assault turned into a belated and feeble attack at 5 pm.  Lee’s troops never even reached Hancock’s main line.  Wade Hampton’s cavalry, directed to penetrate Hancock’s rear on the Charles City Road, was blocked by Gregg’s cavalry as well.

Once Lee learned of Warren’s attacks at Petersburg, his attention, and many of the troops then north of the James near Fussell’s Mill, were moved south to combat a new threat.  This one had the potential to cut the Southerners off from supplies via the Weldon Railroad, one of only a few remaining supply lines they possessed into Richmond and Petersburg.

After a few more days in position, Hancock withdrew his forces on August 20, and the northern wing of Grant’s Fourth Offensive had ended.  As a diversion, the Second Deep Bottom Campaign is at least a partial success.  If you consider Hancock’s goals upon setting out on the evening of august 13, however, it must be deemed a complete failure.

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  • Suderow, Bryce. “Nothing But a Miracle Could Save Us: Second Battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia, August 14-20, 1864.” North & South, Volume 4, Number 2, 2001: 12-32. Print.
  • Manarin, Louis H. Henrico County Field of Honor, Volume II. Richmond: Carter Printing Company, 2004: 443-565. Print.
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