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The Siege of Richmond and Petersburg

  • Date Submitted: 02/02/2012 05:44 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.1 
  • Words: 1000
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The Richmond-Petersburg campaign began on June 9, 1864, and ended on March 25, 1865. It was General Grant's attempt to rebound from his horrific loss at Cold Harbor. Grant wanted to finish Lee and his army by flanking and encircling them in Virginia. Although it lead Lee's army to the brink of losing all their supplies and forced him to eventually retreat from both cities; the Siege of Richmond and Petersburg was not actually considered a siege, but rather a nine months of trench warfare (which was a new concept of warfare at the time). The decision to abandon the two cities ultimately lead to the defeat and surrender of the Confederate States of America.
General Grant, after being promoted to Lieutenant-General and coming off his mildly successful "Overland Campaign" was determined to finish the Confederacy. Although the battle of Cold Harbor was considered wholesale slaughter for the Union, the Confederates actually lost a larger portion of his army. Lee wouldn't be able to quickly replace those men, but Grant promptly rallied his army and was ready for another offensive. Lee, on the other hand, became desperate to hold the Confederate capital -- Richmond, Virginia. Three days into the offensive on June 12, 1864, Grant crossed the James River. Grant's target was not exactly the capital Richmond, but rather the city of Petersburg. He chose Petersburg for many reasons: it was right on the Appomattox River, it was a major intersection for railroad traffic, and had it strategic value for trapping Lee's army in Richmond. Because Lee believed Grant would attack Richmond, he only had a hand-full of men defending Petersburg.
The Union's first assault on the city of Petersburg was led by Benjamin Butler. It was an unsuccessful attack on a ten mile line of fortifications known as the Dimmock Line. The unsuccessfulness of the assault stemmed mainly from two Generals, Gillmore and Hinks. They had little experience in leading troops and instantly froze at the display of...


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