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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Brother vs. Brother

The Breakthrough Trail

 

—Pamplin Historical Park —

 
Brother vs. Brother Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
1. Brother vs. Brother Marker
Inscription. Near here, the 6th Maryland Infantry (Union) made their penetration of the Confederate fortifications. Major Clifton K. Prentiss, a 29-year-old from Baltimore, helped lead his unit in the Breakthrough only to fall wounded with a rifle ball in his chest.

Some distance to your right and a little later in the battle, Private William S. Prentiss also suffered a severe wound, one that would require the amputation of his right leg. William Prentiss served in the 2nd Maryland Battalion, a Confederate unit.

William and Clifton were brothers. As in so many families from border states like Maryland, the Civil War had driven a wedge between these two young men. Their service in opposing armies brought them together on this battlefield, although under tragic circumstances.

<Sidebar:> The Confederates created this narrow opening in their fortifications to allow pickets to go back and forth from their posts, for wood-gathering parties to scavenge for timber, and to permit the men to use the latrines which were located in front of their works. A number of these gaps existed along the entire Confederate line.

The earthwork running perpendicular to the main fortifications is the remains of an engineering device known as a traverse. Originally, another section of earthwork would have connected with this one to
Marker on the Breakthrough Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
2. Marker on the Breakthrough Trail
The Confederate fortifications that were attacked on April 2, 1865 by the 6th Maryland Infantry can be seen behind the marker in the photo.
create an “L” shaped fortification behind the main line to protect the narrow opening. These gaps attracted the attention of Union attackers during the Breakthrough as a potential path of least resistance.
 
Erected by Pamplin Historical Park.
 
Location. 37° 10.865′ N, 77° 28.456′ W. Marker is in 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. First Man Over the Works (within shouting distance of this marker); 1st Lieutenant Octavius Augustus Wiggins (within shouting distance of this marker); Lieutenant Colonel George B. Damon (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Winter Huts (within shouting distance of this marker); Sergeant John E. Buffington (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Breakthrough (about 300 feet away); The Confederate Fortifications (about 300 feet away); Confederate Winter Quarters (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
 
More about this marker.
Confederate Fortification at the Breakthrough image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
3. Confederate Fortification at the Breakthrough
The fortifications seen here, located within sight of the marker, shows a traverse and one of the gaps that are mentioned in the sidebar on the marker.
The bottom left of the marker features a photograph of Major Clifton Prentiss, with the caption, “Major Clifton K. Prentiss had this photograph taken in early 1865. After his death, he was awarded brevet promotions to the ranks of lieutenant colonel and colonel of his regiment.” The top of the marker contains “An artist’s conception of how this area appeared during the winter of 1865.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Breakthrough at Petersburg. The American Civil War website. (Submitted on January 15, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. The Breakthrough Trail. Pamplin Historical Park website. (Submitted on January 15, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. The Final Assault. The Civil War Siege of Petersburg. (Submitted on January 15, 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 1,031 times since then and 59 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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