June 9th 1864 – March 25th 1865
The Siege of Petersburg, also known as the Breakthrough at Petersburg, was a decisive Yankee victory and sent the great General Lee into hiding. The great and long-lasting assault on the severely dug-in trenches of the Rebel horde, made the Siege of Petersburg, important.
The Rebel loss led to the fall another vastly important Rebel town, Richmond. The initial sieges of Petersburg lasted 10 long and terrible months. Both sides were whipped and weary from the endless shelling and the whizzing of hot lead over their heads, daily.
The siege would culminate in a decisive and readily apparent victory for the Union forces and would pave the way for the end of the Civil War. The Union lost many men, as did the Confederates, yet it was this battle, or better said, this series of battles, that caused the Rebel army and her leaders to rethink their position.
The fall of Petersburg meant that the main armies of the South were now scattered to the wind and that the great and effervescent leadership qualities of one of the best, General Grant, could be finally realized.
So much has been written on the outcome and the affect on the course of the Civil War and in theory, a Union victory did mean that the war was certainly coming to an end. Yet it was not just the single act of at the victory at Petersburg that lead the way and sealed the fate of the confederacy, heaven s not. it was the relentless pursuit that followed by grant and his army that chased General Lee into Richmond and Vicksburg that would end the Civil War, at Appomattox.
Union troops in trenches during the Siege of Petersburg
Lee would see that the loss of Petersburg was the beginning of the end when he would sign the surrender document in front of not General Grant but a minor general. A last slap in the face? The overall victory by the Union army at Petersburg, mean that Lee would be forced into a role that was unfamiliar to the fantastic Southern commander, retreat.
General Grant noticed this and took full advantage of the situation and eventually won the war right then and there on the bloody field of Petersburg.
General lee would definitely continue the fight and if he would have had a larger army, more support, and a few good peers, possibly he could have extended the war. Yet this would have been only an extension and in no way shape or form a victory.
The war was over and the Siege of Petersburg sealed that fact in blood. The generals knew it and so did the men who were still fighting the losing battle. As a soldier, there is no worse feeling than that of risking ones own life for a lost cause battle. The end of the war was near and all that was left to do now was to sweep up a little bit. General Grant had the broom ready.