Petersburg Assault Part 3

From Colquitt's Salient

What became known as Colquitt's Salient was in an excellent position to stop the Union attack.  On the far left but not visible is the monument to the 1st Maine.  The park service sign is along the road near the trees.  In the center background is Fort Stedman which was built by Union troops after the failed attack.

Burnside Attacks

     South of the II Corps, Burnside's IX and Warren's V Corps had moved forward to find the new Confederate line.  The Unionists entered the field around the Taylor House and immediately took fire from the Rebels on a hill 800 yards away.  Confederate skirmishers were driven from the field into the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad cut.  Union troops attacked across the field, over a telegraph wire obstacle into the cut.  The cut was ten to twenty feet deep in places and was difficult to exit.  The rail line passed through the Confederate earthworks and the Rebels brought two guns out to enfilade the Yankees.  The Yankees made a makeshift traverse and brought down two of their own guns, driving off the Confederates.  Confederate skirmishers were now placed along Poor Creek, just a few hundred yards further.  At about 5:30PM, the Federals climbed out of the cut and charged Poor Creek, driving the Rebel pickets back to the main line.  After regrouping in the shelter of the creek bank, they continued the attack until they met fire from the main Confederate line.  There they entrenched, about 125 yards from the enemy.

     The battle was over and Petersburg was still in Confederate hands.  The Union had lost over 10,000 men versus an estimated 4,000 Confederate losses.  Union troops had experienced wasteful assaults at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor and now they often acted for their own self-preservation.  Union leadership was very much lacking.  Grant had taken Lee by surprise, but he took little or no part in directing the battle.  Corps commanders failed to cooperate while Meade lost his temper and ordered more wasteful attacks.  The siege continued until April 1865.  The Union's best chance to breakthrough was bungled next month at the Battle of the Crater.                 


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