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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

April 2nd, 1865 - The Assault on Petersburg

Conflict: American Civil War (1861-1865)

Combatants: Confederates vs. Federals

Location: Virginia

Outcome: Federal victory

After ten months of siege and aware that General Robert E. Lee has shifted troops away from Petersburg, Union General Ulysses Grant ordered a renewed assault on the city's defenses. On the right flank, Federal troops under command of General Horatio Wright overran Confederate trenches and seized Fort Fisher. Confederate General A. P. Hill was killed in the fighting near Five Forks.

Confederate Fortifications at Petersburg by an unknown photographer

Recognizing the precarious situation, Lee sent word to to Richmond that Peterburg would have to be evacuated. The Confederate leaders began fleeing the capital for Danville, Virginia on the same day.

Siege Gun at Petersburg in 1864 by an unknown photographer

On the evening of the 2nd, Confederate Generals James Longstreet and John Gordon held the defenses at Petersburg while the main body of Southern troops withdrew toward Appomattox. Over the course of the siege, there were 42,000 Union and 28,000 Confederate casualties.

Dead soldier, Siege of Petersburg, April 1 1865 by Thomas C Roche

Points of Interest:

  • John Gordon would later serve as a US Senator and Governor of Georgia.

  • Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, received word of the imminent fall of Petersburg while attending church in Richmond.

Major General Ulysses S. Grant by E. and H.T. Anthony
General Horation B. Wright by Mathew Benjamin Brady

General Robert E. Lee by (Cropped) Mathew Benjamin Brady

General John B. Gordon by Mathew Benjamin Brady



Bowman, John S. (Ed.) (1983). The Civil War Almanac. New York: World Almanac.

Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Long, E.B & Long, Barbara (1971). The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865. New York: De Capo Press, Inc.

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