Civil War Battles of Virginia

Weldon railroad

Sappony Church (June 28, 1864) – Also called the Battle of Stony Creek Depot, this raid took place in Sussex County. After the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, Confederate Major General William H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry division pursued Brigadier Generals James Wilson’s and August Kautz’s raiders who failed to destroy the Staunton River Bridge on June 25th. Wilson and Kautz headed east and, on June 28th, crossed the Nottoway River at the Double Bridges and headed north to Stony Creek Depot on the Weldon Railroad. Here, they were attacked by Major General Wade Hampton’s cavalry division. Later in the day, General William H.F. Lee’s Division arrived to join forces with Hampton, and the Federals were heavily pressured. During the night, Wilson and Kautz disengaged and pressed north on the Halifax Road for Reams Station’s supposed security, abandoning many fleeing slaves who had sought security with the Federal raiders. The Confederate victory resulted in estimated total casualties of 1,817.

Ream’s Station I (June 29, 1864) – Early in the morning of June 29th, Brigadier General August Kautz’s division reached Ream’s Station on the Weldon Railroad in Dinwiddie County, which was thought to be held by Union infantry. Instead, Kautz found the road barred by Major General William Mahone’s Confederate infantry division. Union Major General James Wilson’s division, fighting against elements of General William H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry, joined Kautz’s near Ream’s Station, where they were virtually surrounded. General Mahone’s infantry assaulted their front about noon while General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry division threatened the Union left flank. The raiders burned their wagons and abandoned their artillery. Separated by the Confederate attacks, Wilson and his men cut their way through and fled south on the Stage Road to cross Nottoway River, while Kautz went cross-country, reaching Federal lines at Petersburg about dark. Wilson continued east to the Blackwater River before turning north, eventually reaching Union lines at Light House Point on July 2nd. The Wilson-Kautz raid tore up more than 60 miles of track, temporarily disrupting rail traffic into Petersburg, but at a great cost in men and mounts. The Confederate victory resulted in estimated total casualties of 600.

Deep Bottom I (July 27-29, 1864) – Occurring in Henrico County, this three-day engagement is also called the Battle of Darbytown, Strawberry Plains, New Market Road, and Gravel Hill. During the night of July 26-27, the Union II Corps and two divisions of General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry under Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s command crossed to the north side of James River to threaten Richmond. This demonstration diverted Confederate forces from the impending attack at Petersburg on July 30th. Union efforts to turn the Confederate position at New Market Heights and Fussell’s Mill were abandoned when the Confederates strongly reinforced their lines and counterattacked. During the night of July 29th, the Federals re-crossed the river leaving a garrison as heretofore to hold the bridgehead at Deep Bottom. The Confederate victory resulted in an estimated 1,000 total casualties.

Battle of the Mine

Crater (July 30, 1864) – Also called the Battle of the Mine, this engagement occurred in Petersburg. After weeks of preparation, on July 30th, the Federals exploded a mine in Burnside’s IX Corps sector beneath Pegram’s Salient, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Major General William Mahone. The break was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. Brigadier General Edward Ferrero’s division of black soldiers was badly mauled. This may have been Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Major General Ambrose E. Burnside was relieved of command for his role in the debacle. The Confederate victory resulted in total estimated casualties of 5,300.

Deep Bottom II (August 13-20, 1864) – This week-long engagement occurring in Henrico County is also known as the Battle of New Market Road, Fussell’s Mill, Bailey’s Creek, Charles City Road, and White’s Tavern. During the night of August 13-14, the Union II Corps, X Corps, and Brigadier General David Gregg’s cavalry division, all under the command of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom to threaten Richmond, coordinating with a movement against the Weldon Railroad at Petersburg. On August 14th, the X Corps closed on New Market Heights while the II Corps extended the Federal line to the right along Bailey’s Creek. During the night, the X Corps was moved to the far right flank of the Union line near Fussell’s Mill. On August 16th, Union assaults near Fussell’s Mill were initially successful, but, Confederate counterattacks drove the Federals out of a line of captured works. Heavy fighting continued throughout the remainder of the day. Confederate General John Chambliss was killed during cavalry fighting on Charles City Road. After continual skirmishing, the Federals returned to the James River’s south side on the 20th, maintaining their bridgehead at Deep Bottom. The Confederate victory resulted in total estimated casualties of 4,600 men.

Globe Tavern (August 18-21, 1864) – Taking place in Dinwiddie County, this engagement is also known as the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad, Yellow Tavern, Yellow House, and Blick’s Station. While Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s command demonstrated north of the James River at Deep Bottom, the Union V Corps and elements of the IX and II Corps under Major General G.K. Warren’s command were withdrawn from the Petersburg entrenchments to operate against the Weldon Railroad. At dawn on August 18th, Warren advanced, driving back Confederate pickets until reaching the railroad at Globe Tavern. In the afternoon, Confederate Major General Henry Heth’s division attacked, driving Brigadier General Romeyn B. Ayres’s division back toward the tavern. Both sides entrenched during the night. On August 19th, Confederate Major General William Mahone, whose division had been hastily returned from north of James River, attacked with five infantry brigades, rolling up Union General Samuel Crawford’s right flank’s division. Heavily reinforced, Union General G.K. Warren counterattacked and, by nightfall, had retaken most of the ground lost during the afternoon’s fighting. On the 20th, the Federals laid out and entrenched a strong defensive line covering the Blick House and Globe Tavern and extending east to connect with the main Federal lines at Jerusalem Plank Road. On August 21st, Confederate General A.P Hill probed the new Federal line for weaknesses but could not penetrate the Union defenses. With the fighting at Globe Tavern, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant succeeded in extending his siege lines to the west and cutting Petersburg’s primary rail connection with Wilmington, North Carolina. The Confederates were now forced to off-load rail cars at Stony Creek Station for a 30-mile wagon haul up Boydton Plank Road to reach Petersburg. Confederate General John C.C. Sanders was killed on August 21st. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 4,279 Union and 1,600 Confederate.

Ream’s Station II (August 25, 1864) – The battles continued in Dinwiddie County when, on August 24, Union II Corps moved south along the Weldon Railroad, tearing up the track, preceded by Brigadier General David Gregg’s cavalry division. On August 25th, Confederate Major General Henry Heth attacked and overran the faulty Union position at Ream’s Station, capturing 9 guns, 12 colors, and many prisoners. The old II Corps was shattered. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock withdrew to the main Union line near the Jerusalem Plank Road, bemoaning his troops’ declining combat effectiveness. The Confederate victory resulted in total estimated casualties of 3,492.

Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights (September 29-30, 1864) – This two-day engagement to place at New Market Heights, Forts Harrison, Johnson, and Gilmer; and Laurel Hill in Henrico County. During the night of September 28-29, Union Major General Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James crossed James River to assault the Richmond defenses north of the river. The columns attacked at dawn. After initial Union successes at New Market Heights and Fort Harrison, the Confederates rallied and contained the breakthrough. General Robert E. Lee reinforced his lines north of the James River, and, on September 30th, he counterattacked unsuccessfully. The Federals entrenched, and the Confederates erected a new line of works cutting off the captured forts. Union General Hiram Burnham was killed. As Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant anticipated, General Robert E. Lee shifted troops to meet the threat against Richmond, weakening his lines at Petersburg. The Union victory resulted in total estimated casualties of 4,430 men.

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