In December of 1863, Colonel James Mulligan returned toNew Creek and Colonel Joseph Thoburn took command of the1,785 Union soldiers at Petersburg. Confederate Major GeneralFitzhugh Lee's forces began to move on Petersburg on January 3rd, with intentions of capturing Colonel Thoburn's forces and destroying the fortification. Unable to move their artillery and supply wagons forward due to poor road conditions, Confederate forces fell back towards General Early in the ShenandoahValley on January 7th, failing to take the garrison. On January 30th, Confederate forces attacked and captured 80 Union supply wagons en route for Petersburg. Colonel Thoburn, knowing that his supplies were exhausted and learning of the impending attack, evacuated the Fort after midnight. At daylight on January31, 1864, ConfederateGeneral Jubal Early andhis combined forces of4,700 opened fire.He shelled the Fortfor some time beforehe discovered that theworks were unoccupied.
Before you is the largest bombproof at the Fort. Its original interior dimensions are unknown, but its present exterior dimensions are 200 feet by 55 feet. Note the unique, overlapping entrance at the end. The walls are greatly diminished near the middle, which could indicate damage inflicted by General Early who stated that one of the larger bombproofs had an estimated 13,000 rounds of rifle ammunition within it.
From the Diary of Joshua Winters, January 2-19, 1864. "Sat 2. i am on pickit gard today on the North Fork rode. it is vary winday and cold. Sun 3. the fort train was attacted and capterd at the jungtion 12 mils from hear ... Tues 5. Clear and cold. i am on duty a cutten timber for the fort today. tonight at 7 oclock we got orders to pack up and be reddy to move at 2 in the morning the order was countermanded. a grate deal of Commesarys stors are destroid. Wed 6. Clear today. the excitement is all over ... Fri 8. i am on pickit gard on the Sinikey rode. vary cold today and tonight. ... Wed 13. Plesant day. we got orders to knight if the long roll beat to fall in with our blankets on. ... Fri 15. Plesant day. i am on gard at the fort. the rebs made thair apearnce in the gap. one reb killd. the 23 went out this eaving, got back this morning. the train com up today, larg gard with it. Sat 16. plesant day. the train left for New Crick this morning. the 14 went with it as fur as Williamsport.... Mon 18. Clouday. i am on fatigue today. Tues 19. our Co went on scout through the gap today. the wind is vary heigh tonight. it blode severl houses down. Cold."