Today in History:

Peebles' Farm

Battle Name: Peebles’ Farm
Other Names: Poplar Springs Church, Wyatt’s Farm, Chappell’s House, Pegram’s Farm, Vaughan Road, Harmon Road
State: Virginia
Location: Dinwiddie County
Campaign: Richmond-Petersburg Campaign (June 1864-March 1865)
Dates: September 30-October 2, 1864
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, Maj. Gen. John G. Parke, and Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren [US]; Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill and Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton [CS]
Forces Engaged: Corps
Estimated Casualties: 3,800 total

In combination with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s offensive north of the James River, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant extended his left flank to cut Confederate lines of communication southwest of Petersburg. Two divisions of the IX corps under Maj. Gen. John G. Parke, two divisions of the V Corps under Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren, and Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg’s cavalry division were assigned to the operation. On September 30, the Federals marched via Poplar Spring Church to reach Squirrel Level and Vaughan Roads. The initial Federal attack overran Fort Archer, flanking the Confederates out of their Squirrel Level Road line. Late afternoon, Confederate reinforcements arrived, slowing the Federal advance. On October 1, the Federals repulsed a Confederate counterattack directed by Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill. Reinforced by Maj. Gen. Gershom Mott’s division, the Federals resumed their advance on the 2nd, captured Fort MacRae which was lightly defended, and extended their left flank to the vicinity of Peebles’ and Pegram’s Farms. With these limited successes, Meade suspended the offensive. A new line was entrenched from the Federal works on Weldon Railroad to Pegram’s Farm.


From The Breakthrough Trail:

— Pamplin Historical Park —
On the final day of the Battle of Peebles' Farm, October 2, 1864, Union troops of Brigadier General Gershom Mott's Third Division, Second Army Corps, moved against the Confederate breastworks at the Hart Farm. Mott had orders to determine if the trenches were vulnerable to an attack. The Federals met light resistance from Confederate cavalrymen as they marched up Duncan Road (which they called Harmon Road, after a home located near its intersection with Boydton Plank Road, today's U.S. 1). Major General Henry Heth began rushing infantry units to the area to meet this threat.

Just as Mott's soldiers advanced from the low ground across this field, North Carolinians of Brigadier General William MacRae's Brigade filed into the works. Musketry and artillery fire repulsed the Union attack. About mid-afternoon, four Federal regiments under Lieutenant Colonel George Zinn moved forward again to test the strength of the Confederate defenses. Two more infantry brigades of Heth's division had reinforced MacRae's and easily halted this assault. Zinn received a severe leg wound, but his men removed him from the field. Fewer than 70 Union soldiers became casualties in what was dubbed the Battle of Harmon Road. Confederate losses are unknown but probably were light. Mott's division withdrew to the area of Peebles' Farm and entrenched. The two armies would occupy these lines until April 2, 1865.


"we were called off to try to drive the enemy from a redoubt in course of construction on another part of the line. Withdrawn from this attempt, we were just going into bivouac again when we were double-quicked to meet the enemy, who was, as usual extending his left. Then occurred the unique incident of two opposing forces running to reach the same point, the point being in this instance the very works we had recently built. The brigade reached them first and just in time to drive back the enemy, who had approached through an extended open field instead of through a wood in front, which would have concealed his movement ?. The attack was repelled and the extension of Grant's left delayed for many days."
- Captain Louis G. Young, Assistant Adjutant General, MacRae's [North Carolina] Brigade

Results: Union victory

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