Facts About Petersburg

Posted: June 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Main Statistics:

  • The Place: Petersburg, Virginia
  • The Time: The entire Petersburg Campaign took place over the course of 10 months. On June 15, 1864, the first battle took place and the siege that eventually ensued lasted until April 2, 1865.
  • The Generals: General Ulysses S. Grant commanded the Union forces and General Robert E. Lee commanded the Confederate troops
  • The Soldiers: On the Union side, there were between 65,000 and 125,000 soldiers engaged. The number of Confederate soldiers is difficult to determine, but it is estimated that there were around 52,000.
  • Casualties: The Union army suffered around 42,000 casualties, while the Confederates sustained about 28,000 casualties.


During the Campaign:

  • General Grant launched 9 separate attacks at Petersburg during the campaign.
  • An infantry regiment from Pennsylvania set off tons of explosives under the Confederate line of battle on July 30, 1864. The massive explosion created an enormous crater.
  • The nearby port of City Point consistently provided the Union army with supplies, which assured an eventual Union victory.
  • In August of 1864, spies for the Confederate army tried to interfere with operations at City Point by placing a bomb on a munitions ship.
  • The siege at Petersburg was one of the first instances of trench warfare in history.04090_150px

Petersburg Today:

  • The Civil War Trust (one of the most influential organizations in the preservation of battlefields) has saved the most land around Petersburg, numbering more than 4,000 acres.
  • Petersburg National Battlefield receives around 200,000 visitors every year.
  • Visit Petersburg: https://www.nps.gov/pete/index.htm


June 24, 1861: Union gunboats attack Confederate batteries at Mathias Point, Virginia

June 19, 1862: In Washington D.C., President Lincoln begins to create the framework for the Emancipation Proclamation. This important and controversial document will make slavery illegal in the Confederate states.


June 20, 1862: Union forces begin to move toward Confederate strongholds in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The infantry’s attempt is reinforced by gunboats commanded by Admiral David Farragut.

June 18, 1863: Confederate forces under General Lee continue to move north. They are involved in a small skirmish with Union troops in Aldie, Virginia.

June 20, 1863: West Virginia becomes the 35th state of the Union by proclamation of President Lincoln.

June 18, 1864: The Petersburg Campaign continues as Union troops continue costly assaults against fortified Confederate positions. General Grant decides that his army will need to prepare for a siege.



President Lincoln appointed General George Meade to command the Federal Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863. When General Meade was given the news that he was appointed to take over the army, he attempted to refuse the promotion. When told that the appointment was an order, he responded, “Well, I’ve been tried and condemned without a hearing, and I suppose I shall have to go to the execution.”


General Meade

Gettysburg Battlefield

General Grant wrote that at the time of the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Court House, his recollection was, “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”


Statue of General Grant

Vicksburg Battlefield

Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville. His left arm was amputated due to the severity of the wounds. Though he was healing, he contracted pneumonia, which caused his death on May 10, 1863. Jackson’s final words were, “Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Stonewall Jackson 1

Jackson’s Gravesite

Lexington, Virginia


On this day in the Civil War, General Edward Canby and Richard Taylor meet near Mobile, Alabama, and agree to arrange for the surrender of all Confederate troops in Alabama and Mississippi. These Confederates are the only remaining large troops which have still not surrendered.

Generals Canby and Taylor

(Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

On this day in the Civil War, Jefferson Davis and some members of his cabinet arrive in South Carolina.


Jefferson Davis

(Photo Credit: Library of Congress)