Sunday, June 15, 2014

Petersburg Campaign Begins

Wednesday, June 15, 1864

After departing from Cold Harbor Union General Ulysses Grant advanced the Second and Fifth Corps across the Chickahominy River on Monday, June 13. Grant sent General William F. "Baldy" Smith's Eighteenth Corps toward Petersburg by way of Bermuda Hundred. General Smith had been ordered to attack Petersburg at daylight this morning before Confederate General Robert E. Lee had sufficient time to defend the city.

Delays in conveying orders and supplies postponed the arrival of the Second Corps into Petersburg until this evening. General Winfield S. Hancock offered General Smith two divisions of his Second Corps to support his assault. General Smith, who had taken the outer works at Petersburg, asked Hancock to relieve his corps from the assault. The unfortunate outcome of the day was the lost opportunity to take the poorly-defended Confederate works at Petersburg. The 17,000 Union attackers heavily outnumbered the 2,500 Confederate defenders.1

1Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2005), 386-87.

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