Attacks against Richmond

This entry is part 17 of 21 in the series Petersburg Campaign

As the year turned to October, Robert E. Lee planned to respond to the capture of Chaffin’s Heights and Fort Harrison by the Federals. He planned an offensive against their right flank in the area of Darbytown and New Market Roads.

The Federal lines were held by David Birney’s Corps and August Kautz’s Cavalry Division positioned along New Market Road. Additional cavalry was stationed along Darbytown Road.

Richmond-Petersburg Map, Fall 1864Lee assigned the divisions of Maj. Gens. Charles Field and Robert Hoke to the attack. Their initial assault was against the cavalry that was stationed along the Darbytown. These overmatched forces routed and the attack continued to the next Union defensive positions along New Market Road. In the fighting the commander of the Texas Brigade, Brig. Gen. John Gregg was struck in the neck and killed along the Charles City Road. The Confederate force was repulsed and retreated back into Richmond. The Federals suffered 458 total casualties and the Confederates 700 in what was a Union victory.

On October 13th a Union brigade under Maj. Gen. Alfred Terry advanced against the Confederate fortifications to feel out their strength and exact positions. They were repulsed with heavy casualties and retired to their original positions along New Market Road. The total combined casualties for this engagement were 950 men.

Two weeks later on October 27th General Ben Butler’s forces executed a two-pronged assaulted along Darbytown Road and in the Fair Oaks area. The Federal X Corps attacked the Richmond defensive line along Darbytown Road. The XVIII Corps marched to the north and was soundly repulsed by the Confederate division of Maj. Gen. Charles Field. Field’s forces counterattacked and captured 600 men. The Union forces retired to their original positions on the following day having sustained 1,603 casualties while the Confederate losses were less than 100.

The only purpose that these various assaults accomplished was to take Lee’s attention away from Federal plans on the Southside. The Federal army executed an assault against Boydton Plank Road at the same time as Butler’s attack against the Darbytown Road and Fair Oaks.

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