After the Union defeat at Cold Harbor, Grant changed tactics. He assigned two Union detachments under the command of David Hunter (1802-1886) and Philip Sheridan to undertake raids designed to cripple Confederate railroads and supply lines. He then removed the remainder of the Army of the Potomac from Cold Harbor and slipped southward across the James River. Grant's swift move to the south brought him close to Petersburg, Virginia, a city that supplied Richmond with much of its food and supplies. Grant knew that if the Union Army could capture the railroad yards of Petersburg, the Confederacy would have to abandon its capital city or risk mass starvation.
Once again, though, Lee's army reached Grant's target just in time to establish defensive positions. Grant tested the Confederate defenses, then ordered his men to prepare for a siege of the city. This siege began in mid-June 1864. It would not end until April 1865, when Lee finally abandoned the city.
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