This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Aug. 17: Fighting near Petersburg, Virginia.
While Union Maj. Gen. William Sherman’s forces were trying to outmaneuver Confederates defending Atlanta 150 years ago in the Civil War, the fighting also continued near Petersburg, Virginia. Union soldiers sought to seize a key railroad route near Petersburg in mid-August of 1864 but Confederates in that city, not far from the secessionist capital of Richmond, Virginia, fought back. Ultimately, Union forces gained the momentum and began tearing up the tracks. The Baltimore Sun of Maryland, meanwhile, cited The Associated Press on Aug. 17, 1864, as saying Union forces had pressed at one point within nine miles of the outskirts of Richmond. According to the report, two groups of Union soldiers had stealthily landed on the north side of the James River in Virginia not far from the Confederate capital, managing to overrun two defensive lines of Confederate earthworks before they could go no further. AP reported that the fighting involved artillery and musket fire that raged for hours before subsiding.