Near Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Union Line
"We have set what we call Johnny catchers ... long poles set into the ground with the upper end about as high as a man's head and they are so thick that a rabbit could not crawl through."—Corp. Andrew W. Burwell, 5th Wisconsin Infantry, USA
"The breastworks behind which stood the brave army in blue appeared to be as impenetrable by any force which Lee could send against them as is a modern ironclad to the missiles from an ordinary field battery."—Gen. John B. Gordon, CSA
The Union army extended its line of fortifications in the fall of 1864, including the classic examples of an earthwork defensive system preserved by the Petersburg National Battlefield. In addition to the obstructions placed in front of the main earthworks—the Civil War version of barbed wire described by Corp. Burwell—Union engineers devised a complex series of enclosed forts, artillery batteries, and infantry works, or "curtains," to create a system of mutually supporting fire.
This stretch of the line includes Fort Welch, Battery XXVI, and infantry breastworks that you may visit by walking along Petersburg
Although the earthen portions of these fortifications remain in remarkably good condition, the wooden elements rotted away long ago. Courtesy Library of Congress
The exterior of the Federal works included a dry ditch or moat, abatis, and fraise (pointed stakes inclined toward the enemy), all designed to slow down attackers at point blank range for defenders. — Courtesy Library of Congress
The Union army's ever-growing line of works was well documented by military cartographers. Courtesy Library of Congress
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails and the Civil War Trust.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • War, US CivilVirginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 37° 10.437′ N, 77° 27.507′ W. Marker is near Petersburg, Virginia, in Dinwiddie County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Church Road (Virginia Route 672) and Flank Road, on the left when traveling north. Marker can be reached by hiking the trail located across Church Road west of Fort Fisher (Tour Stop 3 on Petersburg National Battlefield's Western Front Auto Tour). 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 marker. A different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Largest Fort (approx. ¼ mile away); Siege of Petersburg—Grant's Fifth Offensive (approx. ¼ mile away); Fort Conahey (approx. 0.7 miles away); A Mysterious Historic Feature (approx. 0.8 miles away); “A Great Struggle is Now Impending” (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petersburg.
More about this marker. Behind the marker is Union Siege Battery 27, which along with Forts Fisher, Welch, Gregg, Wheaton, Conahey, and Urmston, guarded the left flank of the Union Line. Marker incorrectly refers to Battery 27 as Battery 26.
Also see . . . Petersburg Breakthrough. Civil War Trust (Submitted on July 22, 2015.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 21, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 604 times since then and 6 times this year. Last updated on September 2, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1. submitted on July 21, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. 2. submitted on October 19, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 21, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.