The Second Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Assault on Petersburg, was fought June 15–18, 1864, at the beginning of the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign (popularly known as the Siege of Petersburg). Union forces under Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant attempted to capture Petersburg, Virginia, before Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia could reinforce the city.
The four days included repeated Union assaults against substantially smaller forces commanded by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. Beauregard's strong defensive positions and poorly coordinated actions by the Union generals (notably Maj. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith, who squandered the best opportunity for success on June 15) made up for the disparity in the sizes of the armies. By June 18, the arrival of significant reinforcements from Lee's army made further assaults impractical. The failure of the Union to defeat the Confederates in these actions resulted in the start of the ten-month Siege of Petersburg.
Description: Marching from Cold Harbor, Meade’s Army of the Potomac crossed the James River on transports and a 2,200-foot long pontoon bridge at Windmill Point. Butler’s leading elements (XVIII Corps and Kautz’s cavalry) crossed the Appomattox River at Broadway Landing and attacked the Petersburg defenses on June 15. The 5,400 defenders of Petersburg under command of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard were driven from their first line of entrenchments back to Harrison Creek. After dark the XVIII Corps was relieved by the II Corps. On June 16, the II Corps captured another section of the Confederate line; on the 17th, the IX Corps gained more ground. Beauregard stripped the Howlett Line (Bermuda Hundred) to defend the city, and Lee rushed reinforcements to Petersburg from the Army of Northern Virginia. The II, XI, and V Corps from right to left attacked on June 18 but was repulsed with heavy casualties. By now the Confederate works were heavily manned and the greatest opportunity to capture Petersburg without a siege was lost. The siege of Petersburg began. Union Gen. James St. Clair Morton, chief engineer of the IX Corps, was killed on June 17.