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Civil War Blog

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Touring the Petersburg National Battlefield – Battery 9

Posted By on March 24, 2013

Today’s blog post continues a multi-part series on the Petersburg National Battlefield – that portion of the battlefield which made up the Eastern Front, where the opening assaults and the Battles of the Crater and Fort Stedman occurred.  All parts of the series can be accessed by clicking on the series title here, Touring the Petersburg National Battlefield.  Recent photographs taken at the battlefield are interspersed with the official, interpretative statements made at the various tour stops as well as statements from the National Park Service brochures and web site.  Many men from the Lykens Valley area participated in this battle and the Battle of the Crater itself was noteworthy for the participation of coal miners from Schuylkill County.

Continuing now to Stop 3, Battery 9.

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Black U.S. troops of Hink’s Division captured this position during the first day of fighting.  It is a 1-minute walk to the site of Meade Station, an important supply and hospital depot on the City Point and Army Line, the military railroad built during the siege.  The winter quarters of the Union IX Corps were in the surrounding area.

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Re-created here are samples of some of the infantry earthworks that ringed Petersburg – works that one man said made the landscape resemble “an immense prairie dog village.”

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As the siege wore on, assaults against entrenched positions became rare.  Most of the pitched battles at Petersburg took place beyond the flanks of the armies, as the Federals inexorably pushed westward to cut the rail lines and roads into the city.

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Here at Petersburg on 15 June 1864, African American troops recorded their first major success of the war in Virginia:  “They made a splendid charge… and won a great favor in the eyes of white soldiers by their courage and bravery.”

After the capture of Battery 5, some of the 3,500 black troops swept southward, routing the Confederates before them.  At dusk, they charged on Battery 9 and swarmed over the works.  During two hours of fighting on the Dimmock Line that evening, the U. S. Colored Troops captured dozens of Confederates and six canons.

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Meade Station Trail:  This 0.5 mile interpretive trail leads to three sites revealing different aspects of the Siege of Petersburg.

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The winter camp of the Union army is described and pictured on the above marker.

“The romance of a soldier’s life disappears in a siege.  The change of scenery and the lively marches are gone, and the same monotonous unvaried rounds of toil take their place.  Sunday and weekday are all alike.”

This quiet wood was once a busy encampment.  Here, during winter of 1864-1865, Union soldiers fought not Confederates, but boredom and toil. 

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A replica of one of thousands of winter huts built by Union soldiers so they could survive the winter.

They drilled, they primped their huts, they read mail and newspapers, they played, and they waited – for their turn in the trenches (a dangerous assignment) or the call to battle.

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That call to battle came only three times to the Pennsylvanians camped near here.  On one of these –the morning of 25 March 1865 – they rushed from these camps to resist the Confederate breakthrough at Fort Stedman, one mile to the west.

Moving now onto Stop 4….

This series of posts on “Touring the Petersburg National Battlefield” will continue on Wednesday.


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