The First Battle of Deep Bottom: July 27-29, 1864, 148 Years Ago Today

by Brett Schulte on July 27, 2012 · 0 comments

Many students of the Civil War know about the famous Battle of the Crater, which occurred on July 30, 1864.  Very few have heard of the First Battle of Deep Bottom, a prequel of sorts to the Crater.  Fought from July 27-29, 1864, the First Deep Bottom operation was designed to lure Confederate troops north of the James River so they wouldn’t be in position to resist the Union onslaught on Petersburg once Henry Pleasants’ mine was sprung on July 30.  Major General Winfield Scott Hancock led an expedition composed of his Union 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac as well as two divisions of cavalry from the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps.  On July 27, Union skirmishers advanced in force and captured four 20lb Parrott rifles from the Confederates along New Market Road.  Hancock hesitated and failed to press his advantage, the Confederates using the time to create a line of defense along Bailey’s Creek.  On July 28, Hancock tried to turn the Confederate left, but a strong Confederate counterattack against Torbert’s and Gregg’s cavalry divisions stopped the advance.  Although the operations did not result in a clear cut Union victory, they did succeed in removing many Confederate forces from the front around Petersburg.  Only three Confederate divisions were present to defend Petersburg and the lines surrounding the town by the time the mine was sprung on July 30.  Despite this success, the opportunity was squandered at the Battle of the Crater that day.  Hancock’s men and the cavalry had done their part, but it was all for nothing.

For more on the First Battle of Deep Bottom, including maps and first person accounts, see my battle summary page:

First Battle of Deep Bottom at The Siege of Petersburg Online

Here is a list of the current articles and posts I have made available at The Siege of Petersburg Online:

Siege of Petersburg Documents Which Mention This Battle:

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