Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Life between the Picket Lines
"I have seen veterans of three full years who have faced death incessantly who believe in the southern cause as sincerely as I do, finally be conquered by gnawing hunger and desert to the enemy. I hate the idea, but I won't criticize."—Sgt. James E. Whitehorne, 12th Virginia Infantry, CSA
Daily freezing and thawing rendered the roads around Petersburg impassable during the winter of 1864-1865, bringing large-scale campaigning to a temporary halt. Both armies remained vigilant, however, and maintained a continuous line of pickets to provide early warning of any significant attacks and to prevent the enemy from gaining positions of observation. These pickets conducted their own brand of warfare for months, a routine that included periodic raids, unauthorized commerce, and desertion.
Here on the Jones Farm the opposing picket lines were in plain view, as soldiers from both armies systematically cut down the remaining trees to provide firewood for their camps. Duty on the picket line could be dangerous. Whenever officers desired to update their intelligence about enemy activities, they authorized
This contemporary drawing illustrates a typical vista across the opposing battle lines at Petersburg. Here the main lines were separated by nearly a mile of alternately muddy and dusty no-man's land guarded by opposing lines of pickets. — Courtesy Library of Congress
Less than half a mile from here, the Federals built this 125-foot-high signal tower behind their main lines. Soldiers with telescopes could see for miles from the top. Courtesy Library of Congress
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails and the Civil War Trust.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 10.407′ Touch for map. 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). 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. A different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Petersburg Battlefields (approx. ¼ mile away); The Largest Fort (approx. 0.3 miles away); Siege of Petersburg—Grant's Fifth Offensive (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Conahey (approx. ¾ mile 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.
Also see . . . Petersburg Breakthrough. Civil War Trust (Submitted on July 22, 2015.)
Categories. • Military • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 22, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 366 times since then and 90 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 22, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. 2. submitted on October 19, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 3, 4. submitted on July 22, 2015, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.