Ulysses S. Grant's army attacked Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia. By mid-afternoon, Confederate troops had begun to evacuate the town. The Union victory ensured the fall of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, located just 25 miles north of Petersburg.
President Jefferson Davis received word of the events in Petersburg while attending services at St. Paul's Church in Richmond. He abandoned the capital late that night on a train bound for Danville, Virginia.
Richmond, meanwhile, burned, as fires set by fleeing Confederates and looters raged out of control.