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Petersburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Fort Davis
Union Stronghold
 
Fort Davis - Union Stronghold Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 22, 2007
1. Fort Davis - Union Stronghold
 
Inscription. After four days of unsuccessful trying to capture Petersburg by direct assault on June 15-18, 1864, Gen. U.S. Grant’s Union army began siege operations against the city. Grant’s immediate objective was to cut one of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s supply routes, the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. Moving westward against the rail line in this area June 21-23, Union forces were stopped short of reaching their goal. They were able, though, to extend their trench lines across the Jerusalem Plank Road, now known as Crater Road. To protect this position, construction began on a large earthen structure initially called Fort Warren, Named for Fifth Corps commander, Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren.

One of the Union soldiers assigned to this task recalled: “Covering about three acres of ground, it is capable of holding a brigade…. In building our fort, we dug a trench twenty feet wide and ten feet deep, and threw up the rampart on the inside. The fort was made square with a diagonal through it. We had a magazine in it, and two wells were dug for a water supply…it took eight men to get one shovelful of dirt from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the work, the men standing in little nitches cut in the side of the bank and passing the earth from one to another.” The completed fort held a garrison of 550 men with eight field guns.

One
 
Petersburg Fortification Map Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
2. Petersburg Fortification Map
Note that based on the diagram of Fort Davis, this was a square redoubt, with a "parados traverse" in the middle running diagonally. The internal traverse was designed to trap shot that landed into the fort interior to prevent additional damage.
 
July 11, while sitting nearby with the surgeon of the 39th Massachusetts Infantry, Col. P. Stearns Davis of the same unit was mortally wounded by a piece of exploding artillery shell. The fort was then renamed in his honor.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 37° 11.553′ N, 77° 22.555′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Flank Road and Crater Road (Highway 301), on the right when traveling south on Flank Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23805, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Fort Davis (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Col. George W. Gowen Monument (approx. 0.8 miles away); Lincoln In Petersburg (approx. 0.8 miles away); Pennsylvania Monument (approx. 0.8 miles away); Fort Hays (approx. 0.9 miles away); Old Men and Boys of Petersburg (approx. 0.9 miles away); Battery 31 (approx. 1.1 miles away); Graham Road (approx. 1.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
 
More about this marker. A drawing on the lower left shows a "Fatigue party at Fort Davis." A map on the right side shows other nearby fortifications used in the siege of Petersburg along with an engineering diagram of Fort Davis.
 
Fort Davis Civil War Trails Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 22, 2007
3. Fort Davis Civil War Trails Marker
 

 
Also see . . .  The Civil War Siege of Petersburg. (Submitted on November 28, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Fort Interior Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
4. Fort Interior
From the sally port (entrance) on the old Jerusalem Plank Road side (eastern face) of the fort. This view looks across the parade ground, with the south wall on the left and the traverse on the right, meeting at the southwest corner of the fort.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on November 18, 2007, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,802 times since then. Last updated on February 29, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. Photos:   1. submitted on November 18, 2007, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2. submitted on December 24, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on November 18, 2007, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4. submitted on December 24, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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