“The effort to carry the ridge beyond, and which would give us Petersburg and the south bank of the Appomattox, failed”

Our assault on Petersburg this morning was not a success.  After the explosion of the mine, our men were to assault the lines next to the resulting crater.  Instead, they were lead into the crater itself where they were helpless in the face of the rebel fire.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CITY POINT, VA., July 30, 1864 – 10 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

Finding that my effort to surprise the enemy by sending an army corps and three divisions of cavalry to the north bank of the James River, under cover of night, for the purpose of getting on to the railroads north of Richmond, drew all of his forces from Petersburg except three divisions, I determined to attack and try to carry the latter place. The enemy’s earth-works are as strong as they can be made, and the ground is very broken and favorable for defense. Having a mine prepared running for a distance of eighty feet along the enemy’s parapet, and about twenty-two feet below the surface of the ground, ready loaded, and covered ways made near to his line, I was strongly in hopes, by this means of opening the way, the assault would prove successful. The mine was sprung a few minutes before 5 o’clock this morning, throwing up four guns of the enemy and burying most of a South Carolina regiment. Our men immediately took possession of the crater made by the explosion, and a considerable distance of the parapet to the right of it, as wells a short work in front, and still hold them. The effort to carry the ridge beyond, and which would give us Petersburg and the south bank of the Appomattox, failed. As the line held by the enemy would be a very bad one for us, being in a side hill, the crest on the side of the enemy, and not being willing to take the chances of a slaughter sure to occur if another assault was made, I have directed the withdrawal of our troops to their old lines. Although just from the front, I have little idea of the casualties. I think, however, our loss will be but a few hundred, unless it occurs in withdrawing, which it may not be practicable to do before night. I saw about 200 prisoners taken from the enemy. Hancock and Sheridan returned from the north side of the river during the night, and are now here.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 11, p 345-6

O.R., I, xl, part 3, p 636

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