Wednesday, June 12, 2013
“Men, the salvation of Lee’s army is in your keeping.”
– Maj. Gen. Cadmus Wilcox to the defenders of Fort Gregg, April 2, 1865
On the afternoon of April 2, 1865, after a morning of bludgeoning attacks all along the Petersburg lines, 5,000 Federals swept forward to attack Fort Gregg. The 300 Confederates here twice drove the Federals back, but finally the attackers reached the fort’s parapet. For twenty minutes a vicious hand-to-hand battle raged.
At fight’s end, the fort belonged to the Federals. Only 44 Confederates survived the battle unscathed. With the fall of Fort Gregg and nearby Fort Whitworth, the Confederates pulled back to their last, innermost line. The two hours gained by Fort Gregg’s defenders allowed Lee to evacuate Petersburg safely that night.