Petersburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
First Battle of Petersburg
Kautz’s Effort Stopped Here
— Lee vs. Grant – The 1864 Campaign —
In May 1864, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant launched attacks on Confederate armies across the South. He accompanied Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac as it fought Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor. With most of both armies still north of the James River, the Federals made their first attempt to capture Confederate-held Petersburg. That effort was stopped here.
On June 9, 1864, Gen. August V. Kautz led 13,000 Union cavalrymen here with orders to capture and burn the city. Petersburg’s Home Guard, 125 old men and young boys, held them off for two hours but finally retreated. The road to Petersburg lay open.
From Bermuda Hundred, 10 miles northeast on the James River, Confederate Gen. James Dearing rushed cavalry and a battery of artillery commanded by Petersburg resident Edward Graham through the city’s streets. Dearing, having formerly served with the famed New Orleans’ Washington Artillery, placed Graham’s guns on the hills on either side of the road and skillfully directed their fire, halting Kautz’s attack. Dearing then led a cavalry charge that drove the Federals away, saving
A native of Campbell County, Va., Dearing attended the U.S. Military Academy, resigning to offer his services to his state and the Confederacy. Struck during the fighting at High Bridge on April 6, 1865, three days before Lee surrendered, he died on April 25, and was the last officer in the Army of Northern Virginia to die from combat wounds.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable Events • Notable Places • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1781.
Location. 37° 13.085′ N, 77° 23.597′ W. Marker has been reported damaged. Marker is in Petersburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Graham Road and West Roy Smith Drive, on the right when traveling west on Graham Road. Marker is on Graham Road, across from the entrance to Cameron Field, at a large pullover. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Battle of Petersburg, 25 April 1781 (here, next to this marker); Graham Road (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lest We Forget (approx. half a mile away); Poplar LawnConfederate Hospital (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Graham Road (approx. half a mile away); Drilling Ground (approx. 0.6 miles away); People's Memorial Cemetery (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petersburg.
More about this marker. The bottom left of the marker contains photographs of Gen. August V. Kautz and Gen. James Dearing. The top center of the marker contains a sketch of the battlefield with the caption “Looking west on New Road (now Graham Road), the route of the June 9, 1864 attack.” A battle map of the June 9, 1864 encounter also appears on the upper right of the marker.
Also see . . . June 9, 1864. The Battle of Old Men and Young Boys. The Siege of Petersburg website. (Submitted on December 21, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2023. It was originally submitted on December 21, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 2,676 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 21, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 3. submitted on May 9, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 4. submitted on December 21, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.