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Near Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

“We Fought Desperately”

The Breakthrough Trail

 

—Pamplin Historical Park —

 
"We Fought Desperately" Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
1. "We Fought Desperately" Marker
Inscription. The passage of the picket posts and abatis shattered regimental formations in the Vermont Brigade. The attack degenerated into a rush of disorganized men rather than an example of textbook tactics. Orderly Sergeant Thomas H. McCauley of the 2nd Vermont bore the brigade flag at the head of this mass of determined soldiers.

The bluecoats tumbled into the moat and then scaled the steep walls of the Confederate line. Troops from the 18th and 37th North Carolina awaited them along with cannoneers manning the guns in the artillery position in front of you. “We fought desperately, but our thin line was pushed back by sheer force of numbers until it was broken in pieces,” remembered on Tarheel officer.

As other Federal brigades reached the Confederate works on either side of the Vermonters, a brief but bitter hand-to-hand battle raged along nearly a mile of the ramparts. Clubbed muskets and bayonets thrusts characterized this awful melee. Northern and Southern soldiers displayed equal and admirable bravery, but inevitably, the superior Union numbers spelled the difference. Hundreds of Confederate troops surrendered while others retreated through the abandoned winter huts of McGowan’s Brigade seeking safety in the rear. By 5:15 a.m., the Stars and Stripes flew above the Confederate works.
 
Erected by
Marker on the Breakthrough Trail Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
2. Marker on the Breakthrough Trail
Pamplin Historical Park.
 
Location. 37° 10.955′ N, 77° 28.34′ W. Marker is near Petersburg, Virginia, in Dinwiddie County. Marker can be reached from Duncan Road (Virginia Route 670), on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in Pamplin Historical Park, on the Breakthrough Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. “Our Line of Battle was so Thin” (within shouting distance of this marker); 1st Lieutenant Evander McNair Robeson (within shouting distance of this marker); Battlefield Terrain (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Breakthrough (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named The Breakthrough (about 500 feet away); Lieutenant Colonel Ronald A. Kennedy (about 600 feet away); First Man Over the Works (about 700 feet away); Brother vs. Brother (about 800 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
 
More about this marker. The top of the marker features a picture of the Union assault of the Confederate fortifications. It has a caption of “This scene might represent any one of the numerous places where the Sixth Corps broke the Confederate line. Nineteen of the forty-two Union regiments which
Confederate Earthworks Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
3. Confederate Earthworks
These fortifications, manned by Confederates from North Carolina, were the objective of the April 2, 1865 assault by troops of the Sixth Corps.
participated in the attack claimed to be the first troops to achieve the Breakthrough.” The right of the marker contains a war-time photograph with the caption “Men of the 4th Vermont Infantry, shown here in camp earlier in the war, helped carry the Confederate works in this area,”
 
Also see . . .
1. Breakthrough at Petersburg. The American Civil War website. (Submitted on January 14, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. The Breakthrough Trail. Pamplin Historical Park website. (Submitted on January 14, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. The Final Assault. The Civil War Siege of Petersburg. (Submitted on January 14, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 780 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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