Petersburg Battlefields

Petersburg Battlefields (HM1M2N)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803 Dinwiddie County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 10.437', W 77° 27.507'

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The Union Line

"We have set what we call Johnny catchers ... long poles set into the ground with the upper end about as high as a man's head and they are so thick that a rabbit could not crawl through."—Corp. Andrew W. Burwell, 5th Wisconsin Infantry, USA

"The breastworks behind which stood the brave army in blue appeared to be as impenetrable by any force which Lee could send against them as is a modern ironclad to the missiles from an ordinary field battery."—Gen. John B. Gordon, CSA

The Union army extended its line of fortifications in the fall of 1864, including the classic examples of an earthwork defensive system preserved by the Petersburg National Battlefield. In addition to the obstructions placed in front of the main earthworks—the Civil War version of barbed wire described by Corp. Burwell—Union engineers devised a complex series of enclosed forts, artillery batteries, and infantry works, or "curtains," to create a system of mutually supporting fire.

This stretch of the line includes Fort Welch, Battery XXVI, and infantry breastworks that you may visit by walking along Petersburg National Battlefield's path to the left and right of this exhibit. Union forts, accessible by a ramp or sally port located at the rear, featured a dry moat and housed a garrison of infantry and artillery pieces located in fixed firing positions. Batteries were open in the rear and often included traverses—works perpendicular to the main line to limit the effects of incoming shells. Breastworks for infantry connected these positions, making for an integrated defense that deterred all but the most desperate efforts.

Although the earthen portions of these fortifications remain in remarkably good condition, the wooden elements rotted away long ago. Courtesy Library of Congress

The exterior of the Federal works included a dry ditch or moat, abatis, and fraise (pointed stakes inclined toward the enemy), all designed to slow down attackers at point blank range for defenders. — Courtesy Library of Congress

The Union army's ever-growing line of works was well documented by military cartographers. Courtesy Library of Congress
HM NumberHM1M2N
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails and the Civil War Trust
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 at 10:03pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 281737 N 4116999
Decimal Degrees37.17395000, -77.45845000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 10.437', W 77° 27.507'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 10' 26.22" N, 77° 27' 30.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 7010 Church Rd, Petersburg VA 23803, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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