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Siege of Petersburg Sampler: June 13, 1864

Selected Samples from the Siege of Petersburg Online: June 13, 1864

Item:MHSM Papers V5: Crossing of the James and Advance on Petersburg, June 13-16, 1864 by Colonel Theodore Lyman

Description:   Here’s another article from the Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts penned by Meade ADC Theodore Lyman.  Unlike his earlier article covering the operations of June 5-15, 1864, this one focuses in more closely on the crucial days covering the crossing of the James River and the early attempts by Baldy Smith and Winfield Scott Hancock to capture Petersburg.  The march to the James started late on  June 12 and into June 13, 1864.  Engineers were busy preparing the approaches to the “to be constructed” pontoon bridge across the James River.  The multitude of small things that go into a successful march were being put into motion 150 years ago today.  Grant’s army would soon be knocking at the gates of Petersburg.


Item: LT: June 13, 1864 Theodore Lyman

Description: Lyman is such a good source that you should definitely go back to the well one more time today.  In a letter to his wife, Meade’s aide gives a first person account of the Army of the Potomac’s march from the Cold Harbor battlefield to the James River.  His description of Union division commander Francis C. Barlow’s provost guard is representative, both of this letter and his entire body of work through this campaign:

“We kept on, on the flank of the column, admiring its excellent marching, a result partly due to the good spirits of the men, partly to the terror in which stragglers stand of Barlow. His provost guard is a study. They follow the column, with their bayonets fixed, and drive up the loiterers, with small ceremony. Of course their tempers do not improve with heat and hard marching. There was one thin, hard-featured fellow who was a perfect scourge. “Blank you! — you—” (here insert any profane and extremely abusive expression, varied to suit the peculiar case) “get up, will you? By blank, I’ll kill you if you don’t go on, double-quick!” And he looked so much like carrying out his threat that the hitherto utterly prostrate party would skip like the young lamb.”


Item: NP: June 14, 1864 Richmond Sentinel: Army of Northern Virginia, June 13, 1864

Description: A view from the Confederate side indicates that Grant’s army is now near Malvern Hill after “changing its base,” another reference to McClellan’s “change of base” during the Seven Days, nearly two years earlier.  Skirmishes have revealed little, but Grant may be “crossing on pontoons at Harrison’s Landing” and [h]eavy clouds of dust could be seen on the south side from Malvern Hill this evening.”  What is Grant up to?


Item: NP: June 16, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer: From the James River, June 13-14

Description: The Philadelphia Inquirer covers the Union movement from Cold Harbor half way to the James, specifically the crossing of the Chickahominy River for points south.

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