Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Arrival of Prisoners

During my research, I've been somewhat surprised by how much attention the Confederate press gave to covering news about Union prisoners during the Petersburg Campaign. It is especially interesting that they often chose to share the names and regiments of some of the captured commissioned officers.

The above short article appeared in the October 4, 1864, edition of the Richmond Enquirer. It noted the large number of prisoners captured during Grant's Fifth Offensive both in fighting at Peebles Farm (1500 according to this account), and New Market Heights/Fort Harrison (apparently 52).

Almost every time that Gen. Grant made an offensive move in attempt to capture Confederate supply routes or gain additional ground on which to dig in and thus spread the Southerners thinner, the Confederates counterattacked. When the Rebels reacted, they often did so with fierce determination, smashing Federal lines of battle and nabbing hundreds of Union soldiers.

The handful of officers listed here belonged largely to two divisions of the IX Corps (here the 51st New York, 45th Pennsylvania, 58th Massachusetts), who along with two divisions of the V Corps and Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg cavalry division (here the 24th New York Cavalry, 2nd New York Mounted Infantry, 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry) made the offensive at Peebles Farm on September 30, 1864. Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's Confederates counterattacked and pitched into the IX Corps, capturing large numbers.

Did losing large numbers of prisoners in his offensives hinder Grant's Petersburg operations? Would Grant have waged an Overland Campaign at Petersburg if had had the manpower? Hmmmmmm.

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