Selected Samples from the Siege of Petersburg Online: June 15, 1864
Item: B&L: Four Days of Battle at Petersburg by P.G.T. Beauregard
Description: Who better to talk about the opening assaults at Petersburg than the head of the Confederate defensive effort there in the first days of the Second Battle of Petersburg? Baldy Smith maybe, but Beauregard witnessed the key events of June 15, 1864 in person,and performed brilliantly over these few days, providing his greatest service to the Confederacy of the entire war and more than likely prolonging the war in the east by quite a few months.
- MHSM Papers V5: Crossing of the James and Advance on Petersburg, June 13-16, 1864 by Colonel Theodore Lyman
- MHSM Papers V5: Crossing of the James and First Assault Upon Petersburg, June 12-15,1864 by Frank E. Peabody
- MHSM Papers V5: Operations of the Army of the Potomac, June 5-15, 1864 by Colonel Theodore Lyman
- MHSM Papers V5: Some Observations Concerning the Opposing Forces at Petersburg on June 15, 1864 by Frank E. Peabody
- MHSM Papers V5: The Failure to Take Petersburg June 15, 1864 by Colonel Thomas L. Livermore
Description: I’ve grouped these items from the Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts since they all discuss the events of June 15, 1864 in one way or another. This is the Union counterpoint to Beauregard’s article above.
Item: Ulysses S. Grant’s Utter Failure at the Battle of Petersburg: June 15-18, 1864 by Bryce Suderow
Description: Bryce Suderow provides a modern perspective of how Grant handled the opening assaults. The title of the piece may give away the conclusion. 🙂
Item: NP: June 18, 1864 Raleigh Confederate: From the Petersburg Express, June 16
Description: The last highlighted item for today is an account of the fighting on June 15 at Petersburg from the Petersburg Express (copied by the Raleigh Confederate). It’s interesting to read what amounts to “on the ground” reporting 150 years later:
“The above account was written at 5 p. m., yesterday [June 15, 1864] afternoon, when comparative quiet had prevailed along our lines for two hours or more, and it was the general impression that the fighting had ceased for the day. In this, our troops were mistaken, for it was ascertained before dark, that the enemy had massed a very heavy force on our left–especially on the City Point and Prince George Courthouse roads.
At sunset the enemy charged our batteries commanding these roads, coming up in line of battle six and seven columns deep. The brunt of the assault was sustained by the 26th and 46th regiments, of Wise’s brigade, and Sturdivant’s battery of four guns.
Three furious assaults were made, the enemy coming up with a yiell [sic], and making the most determined efforts to carry the works. Our troops received them with a terrific volley each time, sending the columns back, broken and discomfited. The fourth assault was made by such overwhelming numbers numbers, that our force found it impossible to resist the pressure, and were compelled to give way. The enemy now poured over the works in streams, captured three of our pieces, and turning the guns on our men, opened upon them an enfilading fire, which caused them to leave precipitately The guns captured belonged to Sturdivant’s battery, and we regret to hear that Captain S. himself was captured, and two of his lieutenants wounded, both of whom fell into the enemy’s hands. The gallant manner in which this battery was fought up to the last moment, is the theme of praise on every tongue. All present, with whom we have conversed, say that Capt. S. and his men stood up manfully to their work, and the last discharge was made by Captain Sturdivant almost solitary and alone.”