June 9, 1864: Battle of Old Men and Boys


The focus of the War in the East now shifts to Petersburg, where it will remain until the War ends.  Anyone who could read a map in 1864 could see that if Petersburg, the rail hub to the south of Richmond fell, Richmond, its supply lines cut, could not be held by the Confederates.  General Benjamin Butler was a poor excuse for a soldier, but he could read a map.  He had been receiving accurate reports that the extensive fortifications around Petersburg were barely manned, the troops having been largely sent to bolster Lee’s army.  On June 8, Butler order 4500 Union troops at City Point to make an overnight march to Petersburg and assault it on June 9.

After a ten mile overnight march in which some of the Union troops got lost,  the Union infantry arrived in front of Petersburg by 7:30 AM.  The attack on Petersburg did not begin until noon, the Union troops waiting for the arrival of 1300 Union cavalry .  During all of this time the Confederate lines were virtually unmanned.  When the Union troops did attack they initially encountered Home Guard, Confederate militia consisting of boys and old men, joined with some wounded Confederate soldiers recuperating in Petersburg.  The Home Guard made a valiant attempt to hold the entrenchments, but they were heavily outnumbered and outclassed and were driven back to the city.  However the delay in the Union attack and the resistance of the Confederate militia gave General Beauregard just enough time to bring veteran troops up to beat off the Union assault.  The timidity and delay of the Union commanders and the fierce resistance of Confederate boys and old men prevented the Union from achieving a potentially war winning victory one hundred and fifty years ago.

Published in: on June 9, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 9, 1864: Battle of Old Men and Boys  
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