The Battle of Globe Tavern

August 18, 1864 – Combat erupted between the Petersburg siege lines when Federals tried moving beyond the Confederates’ western flank to sever the Weldon Railroad.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant dispatched Major General Gouverneur Warren and four divisions of his V Corps from the Army of the Potomac on August 18. Warren was to destroy the Weldon line and divert attention from a Federal excursion on the Confederates’ eastern flank, north of the James River. This marked the first major attempt since the Battle of the Crater to disrupt the Confederate siege lines. Around 9 a.m., the Federals arrived at Globe Tavern, about four miles from Petersburg and three miles from the Confederate defenses.[1]

Globe Tavern, Virginia | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Globe Tavern, Virginia | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

As the Federals began wrecking track on the Weldon, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard rounded up two brigades under General Henry Heth to stop them. The Confederates initially drove the enemy back, but the Federals regrouped and advanced, and by nightfall they regained their original positions. Major General George G. Meade, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, dispatched reinforcements and ordered Warren to hold the railroad “at all hazards.” Federals suffered 544 killed or wounded, and 292 missing.[2]

The next day, Confederate Lieutenant General A.P. Hill launched a fierce attack against the weak Federal right flank in dense woods around 4:15 p.m. The Federals wavered, and nearly two brigades surrendered. Meanwhile, Heth’s Confederates assaulted the Federal center and left. Federal reinforcements finally began arriving, enabling Warren to stabilize his position. After fending off more attacks, Warren withdrew to a stronger position a mile down the Weldon line.[3]

The Federals suffered 382 killed or wounded and 2,518 missing, presumably captured. However, they maintained control of the railroad, leaving the subsistence of Richmond and Petersburg to just two remaining railroads—the Southside and the Richmond & Danville. General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate army under siege, dispatched wagon trains to collect supplies between Petersburg and Stony Creek.[4]

Skirmishing erupted near the Weldon line on the 20th, as Warren’s Federals continued destroying track while pulling out of the underbrush and forming a new line two miles to the rear. The Confederates temporarily halted efforts to dislodge the Federals, even as President Jefferson Davis expressed concern about the Federal presence on the railroad. The exhausted Federals worked through the night in pouring rain.[5]

Confederate Generals Hill and William Mahone led renewed attacks the next day with ranks three-deep, but they failed to drive the Federals away from the railroad. Hill ended the attack, and the Confederates returned to their original siege lines acknowledging they had permanently lost the Weldon Railroad as a means of supply. In the four-day engagement, the Federals suffered a total of 4,455 casualties (198 killed, 1,105 wounded, and 3,152 missing) out of about 20,000 effectives, while the Confederates lost some 1,600 from about 14,000.[6]

After receiving reports on the fight at Globe Tavern, Grant quickly ordered Federal infantry and cavalry to attack the important Confederate supply line at Reams’s Station between Globe Tavern and Stony Creek.[7]

—–

[1] Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 99-101; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11445-455; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 556-57

[2] Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 99-101; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11445-455; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 556-57

[3] Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 101-03; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11445-55; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 557-58

[4] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11455-68; Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee (Scribner, Kindle Edition, 2008), Loc 7881-94; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 557-58

[5] Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 103; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 558

[6] Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 103-04; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11455-68; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 558-59

[7] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 11455-68

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