The Third Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Breakthrough at Petersburg or the Fall of Petersburg, was a decisive Union assault on the Confederate trenches, ending the ten-month Siege of Petersburg and leading to the fall of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia.
The Union IX Corps under Maj. Gen. John G. Parke occupied the original trenches captured by the Union army in June 1864. Facing Parke was a strong Confederate position dominated by Fort Mahone (named after Maj. Gen. William Mahone) and manned by the forces of Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon. Since much of the recent actions had been occurring west of Petersburg, in particular the Battle of Five Forks, the Confederate strength east of Petersburg was considerably weakened. On April 1, 1865, Parke chose to assault Fort Mahone directly. The attack carried the fortress and the trenches around the Jerusalem Plank Road. The attack slowed down once the Federals occupied the captured trenches. Gordon rallied the troops and planned a counterattack to drive Parke out of his lost trenches. With the complete disintegration of the Confederate army around Petersburg just hours away, Parke sent word to Maj. Gen. George G. Meade for reinforcements to simply hold his current position. Late in the afternoon in the midst of all other Confederate fronts collapsing, Gordon launched his counterattack and nearly drove Parke out. The Federals held their position and Union reinforcements began to arrive.
Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright was forming his VI Corps for a massive assault against the Boydton Line held by Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill. Wright massed his entire corps in a wedge with Brig. Gen. George W. Getty's division at the point with Brig. Gens. Truman Seymour and Frank Wheaton behind. The entire assault against the Boydton Line was carefully planned, and at 4:40 a.m. the Vermont Brigade, led by Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Grant, spearheaded the assault. Twenty minutes later the Confederate lines were broken a...