Although he remained focused upon Petersburg, General Grant perceived that Federal activity north of the James River might draw Confederate forces from the Petersburg trenches to permit a Federal breach. On July 27 he sent II Corps to attack through the X Corps bridgehead at Deep Bottom in a major demonstration. His goals were to weaken the Confederate garrison opposite the IX Corps mine at Petersburg and free a cavalry force to raid railroads near Richmond. The violent Confederate response did thin the Petersburg defenses, but it also prevented the cavalry raid. Two weeks later, on August 13, Grant again sent II and X Corps across the James to Deep Bottom. This time the goal was to turn the Confederates out of their defensive complex at Chaffin's Bluff. Again, Confederate reaction was greater than Grant anticipated, and after several days of indecisive fighting, he withdrew II Corps on August 20 to concentrate on the battle around Globe Tavern south of Petersburg.
To prevent Lee from reinforcing his units in the Shenandoah Valley, Grant once more sent a major force north of the James on September 28. This time X and XVIII Corps succeeded in cracking Confederate defenses at Fort Harrison. Confederate counterattacks over the next two days failed to restore their original position, and forced Lee to construct a new lme. Furthermore, the fighting north of the James permitted Grant to gain ground southwest of Petersburg around Poplar Spring Church two days later. Federal losses numbered 3,327, with Confederate casualties being perhaps two thirds as great. After a brief initial success, a final Confederate effort on October 7 to regain part of the lost ground along the Darbytown road failed.
On September 29, appearing out of the early morning mist Ord stormed Fort Harrison and quickly overwhelmed its garrison (see map above left). Ord was severely wounded in the assault and had to be carried from the field. The ousted Confederates fell back in confusion toward Fort Johnson, where they regrouped for a counterattack which came the following day. The Federals, however, had rebuilt the fort's defenses overnight, and were able to counter the Confederate attack. Lee retrenched to the rear of Fort Harrison (see map above right).
"r~Tihe army is pursuing a course of
X masterly inactivity. Even the work of fortifying, which has been carried out with so much vigor during the past five months, is partially suspended. The hostile armies, separated by only a few rods of forbidden ground, are silently watching each other "
A Michigan volunteer writing home from the Richmond siegeworks.
Attempting to push Union troops back from their threatening position near Richmond, the confederates attacked along the Darbytown and New Market roads. Although the attack began well, the Confederates were eventually repulsed (see map above).
BATTLE AT CHAFFIN'S BLUFF
September 29, 7.00am.
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