Fighting Around Dabney's Sawmill, February 6-7, 1865
On February 6, the Union forces pressed onward towards the South Side Railroad. Around 1 p.m., Major General Gouverneur K. Warren's Fifth Corps sent out two divisions under the leadership of Major General Samuel Crawford and Major General Romeyn Ayres to reconnoiter south of Hatcher's Run. Their left was to be protected by David M. Gregg's cavalry along the Vaughan Road at its crossing of Gravelly Run.
Confronting the Federals this day were two divisions of Gordon's Corps led by generals John Pegram and Clement Evans. Confederate cavalry under command of Major General William H.F. "Rooney" Lee supported them. As fighting began around the sawdust pile left by Dabney's steam sawmill, the two forces grappled, each gaining then losing ground. The Federals fatally wounded General Pegram who had to be carried from the field. The left flank of Crawford's line collapsed and his Confederates were forced back. Only the arrival of Ayres' forces on the battlefield prevented a rout.
The Southerners were preparing a counter-attack when Warren's line finally gave way and the Federal Fifth Corps fell back to the Vaughan Road. The dark of nightfall and foul weather ended the fighting on February 6.
After a miserable night in the freezing woods, Warren sent troops out to reconnoiter the battlefield and found the Southerners entrenched across the area in front of you. The armies skirmished, and another Confederate general, Gilbert Moxley Sorrel, was wounded, but a major attack never developed. Ultimately, the Federals withdrew from the field. The Confederates had successfully defended their lifelines to Petersburg from yet another Union offensive and the supply routes remained safe for the time being.
(Sidebar):The Death of General John Pegram.
During the battle on February 6 and somewhere near the sawdust pile, Confederate General John Pegram gave his life. The 33-year-old was "riding immediately with his troops" when shot through the body near his heart. John was a native son of Petersburg and the brother of the famed artillerist Colonel William "Willie" R.J. Pegram who also would be mortally wounded less than two months later on April 1 at nearby Five Forks. John had just married Hettie Cary the lovely "belle of Richmond" on January 19. The marriage was the talk of the Confederate capital as he was considered "one of the handsomest and most lovable men" ever to wed "the handsomest woman in the Southland - with her classic face, her pure complexion, her auburn hair, her perfect figure and carriage?" She was staying with her mother when his body arrived from the battlefield and she was told of the general's demise. Kyd Douglas, its original bearer, sadly noted "a fianc?e of three years, a bride of three weeks, now a widow!" Even this happy occasion and brief respite from the war weariness felt by Southern civilians came quickly to a fateful end at Hatcher's Run.