The Battle of Peebles’ Farm

This entry is part 15 of 21 in the series Petersburg Campaign

Peebles Farm Aftermath NPS Map

The second half of Grant’s plan, an attack against the western end of the Confederate lines at Peebles’ Farm, commenced on the morning of September 30th. The attacking force consisted of Gouverneur K. Warren’s V Corps and Brig. Gen. David McM. Gregg’s Cavalry Division with units from the IX Corps and II Corps in support.

Warren had been ordered to attack the fortifications at Boydton Plank Road. This was a key road carrying supplies from the railhead at Stony Creek into the city of Petersburg. Blocking it would tighten the siege even further. Butler’s attack at New Market Heights had forced Lee to shift forces north so this area was weakened and vulnerable.

The Confederate line was being extended to the Union position at Globe Tavern with a temporary line being held along Squirrel Level Road. Warren’s force marched along Poplar Springs Road toward the Squirrel Level line. Here are the orders of battle of the opposing forces.

Charles Griffin’s Federal Division attacked the Confederate positions near Poplar Springs Church at about 1:00 PM and captured Fort Archer along the Squirrel Level line. The Confederates along the line broke and ran so quickly that very few of them were captured. Warren ordered a halt so that his men could reinforce the line. He also did not want to advance to far ahead of the IX Corps which was on his flank.

The IX Corps was on Warren’s left but for some reason was unable to make an effective link with him. The Confederate counterattack under Maj. Gen. Henry Heth at about 4:30 PM routed them and one Federal brigade was captured. Warren was able to rally the IX Corps, stop the Confederate attack and organize the defense.

On the morning of October 1st Heth attacked again without success. Wade Hampton’s cavalry attempted an attack but it too was repulsed.

On October 2nd Gershon Mott’s Division reinforced the Federal line and attacked toward the Boydton Plank Road. They easily overran Fort MacRae but didn’t reach the key supply road. They did extend their line of fortifications to the area of Peebles’ Farm and Pegram Farm.

This Federal victory at the Battle of Peebles’ Farm solidified their positions in this area and gave them jumping off spot for further attacks to capture the Boydton Plank Road. Casualties on the Federal side totaled 2,889 men, nearly 10% of the attacking force. Most of them were due to the capture of entire brigade. The Confederates suffered a total of 1,239 casualties.

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