BEFORE PETERSBURG VA.,
March 25th, 1865.
MR. EDITOR: I write in haste to give you a brief statement of a severe engagement that took place today [March 25, 1865] in front of this Division [3/IX/AotP]. About four o’clock this morning the Rebels made a bold attempt to break through the Union lines which they actually accomplished, capturing one fort [Fort Stedman] and deploying their skirmishers inside of our lines; the alarm was immediately given, and at daylight the action commenced terrifically. The First Brigade [1/3/IX/AotP], composed of the 208th [Pennsylvania], 209th [Pennsylvania] and 200th Pennsylvania Regiments led the charge on the intruders, and drove them back to their own lines, and before nine o’clock our forces reoccupied their lines as before, capturing about twenty-five hundred prisoners. The Rebel loss in killed and wounded is very heavy and that of the Union forces very small.1 I can only give you the casualties of Company K, 208th [Pennsylvania Regiment].
1st Sgt. Jas. R. O’Neal-flesh wound-thigh.
Corporal Samuel W. Williams-heel.
Private Phillip Hollar -heel.
Private Daniel Ritchey-flesh wound-thigh.
Captain Weaverling and Lieut. Sparks are all right. Lieut. Bessor was acting on Brigade officer’s staff and is also unharmed.
Very Respectfully Yours,
JOHN E. SATTERFIELD.2
SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Roy Gustrowsky.
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- SOPO Editor’s Note: This was of course the famous March 25, 1865 Battle of Fort Stedman. General Lee wanted to strike a blow to catch General Grant off guard, allowing the Confederates a bit of a breather to escape from Richmond and Petersburg. As you can see from this letter, it was a dismal failure. Grant and Meade, sensing blood in the water, ordered an attack all along the skirmish lines south and west of Petersburg. The territory they captured helped improve their chances to make a surprise frontal assault, which was carried out a little over a week later. No modern day monograph exists for Fort Stedman. The best account I’ve read is in A. Wilson Greene’s book Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion: The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign. ↩
- “Army Correspondence.” The Bedford Inquirer (Bedford, PA), April 7, 1865, p.2, c.3. ↩