The Virginia in the Civil War Message Board

Robert E. Lee Caused the Fall of Petersburg

This will be a presentation on how the Generalship of Robert E. Lee led to the fall of Petersburg on April 2, 1865

I urge all of you to pick up a copy of volume four of the Douglas Southall Freeman's , Robert E Lee. Turn to the chapter, entitled "five Forks, a study in attenuation. "

 Freeman shows that between March 29 and April 2, 1865 Lee transferred more and more men from the Boydton plank Road line to the far right of his lines to protect the Southside railroad against the threat posed by the second army corps and the fifth army corps, and Sheridan's cavalry.

He argues that the line was so thin at the eastern end of the Boydton plank Road line that the sixth army corps was able to break through the portion of the fortifications held by Cadmus Wilcox's division of Ambrose Powell hill's third army corps

Freeman then points out that part of the sixth army corps turned and advancing down the Boydton plank Road, attacked the division of Henry Heth from the rear and forced to retreat.

This attack caused a 3 mile wide gap in the defenses of the army of northern Virginia that doomed the city of Petersburg and the city of Richmond.  This attack ended the nine month siege of Petersburg and it forced Lee to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond and compelled him flee Westward, in an attempt to join the confederate army in North Carolina.

Freeman demonstrates that the Boydton Plank line was indeed weakened  over a three day period.
But was that the real reason that the federals broke through the confederate defenses at this particular point?

t was not .