2 APRIL 1865 - SIEGE OF PETERSBURG ENDS - #CIVILWAR #Armyhistory
With several key positions of the Petersburg defenses falling to an assault by United States troops on 2 April 1865, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant ordered the United States Armies of the Potomac and James to prepare for an all-out attack to exploit the success of earlier that day. Although he ordered reinforcements from the Richmond defenses to oppose the onslaught, General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, advised President Jefferson Davis and the rest of the Confederate States of America government to evacuate the rebel capital as he began to withdraw the last of his army from the two cities.
On 29 March, with the cordon of U.S. forces tightening around Petersburg, Grant had sent part of his force south around Lee's right flank, while the main body of the combined armies moved to strike directly at that flank. The movement was temporarily slowed by Confederate forces under Generals George Pickett and Richard Ewell in battles around White Oak Road on 31 March and at Five Forks on 1 April. With the collapse of the rebel defenses there, however, Lee's last supply line became vulnerable and the situation looked desperate. Grant ordered a general assault all along the line the next morning, 2 April. As the Confederates withdrew toward Petersburg, Lee ordered Lieutenant General James Longstreet's corps from the Richmond defenses to help hold the line and stave off annihilation. With Petersburg no longer tenable, Lee ordered the rebel defenders to evacuate that night, and U.S. troops entered Petersburg the next day, 3 April.