62d Pennsylvania Volunteers

Regimental History:
The Petersburg Campaign

62d  Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg


The 62d Pennsylvania's place in the organization of Army of the Potomac during the Petersburg Campaign, 30 June 1864:

Regimental History

The Petersburg Campaign
The movement of the Army of the Potomac shifted to south of Richmond just as the 62d Pennsylvania was approaching the last days of its three year service. Grant changed strategy of "fighting on this line if it takes all Summer" to approach Richmond from the south through Petersburg. The city was small, but strategically important because communication lines and railroad supplies to Richmond from both the south and west came through Petersburg. The Army of the Potomac was able to slip away after Cold Harbor and hoped to act decisively enough to enter Petersburg before Confederate troops were able to move in and defend it. They failed. Union commanders were hesitant to continue to attack, poorly coordinated, and after an initial failure of a couple assaults, fell victim one last time to overestimating the size of the Confederate force. By the time the Union generals discovered the truth, Lee had at last sent the necessary reinforcements. The siege set in, and trench warfare, so widely associated with World War I fifty years later, was defined here.
The 62d Pennsylvania, as part of Fifth Corps, crossed the James River on the 16th of June, and quickly marched just outside of Petersburg. The regiment last saw action as the siege of Petersburg was just beginning. A major focus of the siege where they were positioned was to extend the siege line further to the west and cut the railroads from supplying the city.
BATTLEAssault of Petersburg, on 18 June 1864 (part of what has been called the Second Battle of Petersburg, 15-18 June 1864).
For four days, starting on 15 July, the newly arrived Union forces repeated a pattern of assaulting and falling back and assaulting again a ten mile stretch of earthenworks called the Dimmock Line held the Confederate forces commanded by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. It was only around noon on the 18th that the Fifth Corps arrived (almot the same time thta Robert E. Lee arrived). The Fifth Corps had been marching up from the south. When they approached the Rives Salient, the fortified battery works established where the Dimmock Line crossed the Jerusalem Plank Road, the corps was sent into battle immediately.  Confederate troops also occupied a railroad cut where the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad remained uncompleted. After several unsuccessful assaults, part of the Second Brigade, including one hundred men of the 62d serving as skirmishers, then took possession of the railroad cut, driving the rebels back into their breastworks. Any gains, however, were only temporary, and by the time of the next charge that evening, the 62d Pennsylvania had been relieved and sent to the rear. That last charge had no better success in breaking a hole in the Confederate defenses, and Grant and Meade gave up hope that Petersburg could be taken quickly. The strategy was changed to laying siege, and the Union troops started digging in east and southeast of the city.
BATTLEBattle at the Jerusalem Plank Road, on 21-23 June 1864.
On the 21st, the 62d participated in its last engagement. It was likely a skirmish along the Jerusalem Plank Road, where the Fifth Corps held its position as the Second and Sixth Corps advanced westward from the Jerusalem Plank Road to cut off the Weldon Railroad, one of three lines still open to Petersburg. A three day battle ensued, including a surprise attack by Confederate troops who sallied unseen through a ravine behind the Union position.  In the end with the Confederates still in possession of the railroad, but the Union position had been advanced further west.
Siege of Petersburg until July 3.
The 62d continued its service, mostly in picket duty, as part of siege of Petersburg, waiting for the three years service to run its course. Their last days on the battle field were spent in withering heat. On the First of July a temperature of 105 degrees in the shade was recorded. On the Second of July, a year after the regiment fought at Gettysburg, its term of service came to an end. Colonel Sweitzer officially stepped down from his brigade command. Companies L and M, who still had a month to go before their three years were up, were attached to the 91st Pennsylvania. Those who chose to continue serving beyond their three years, as well as those whose three years service did not expire, were transferred to the 155th Pennsylvania. Both these regiments were now part of the Second Brigade of the First Division of the Fifth Corps.
The March Home
On the Third of July, the 62d Pennsylvania left the front. They headed south to the James River where they boarded a steamer, probably to Washington, D.C. From there they headed by train to Pittsburgh. The soldiers arrived there on 13 July 1864, and were officially mustered out.

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This page authored and maintained by John R. Henderson ( jhenderson @ icyousee . org), Lodi, NY.
Last modified: 20 December 2013, 149 and a half years after the 62d Pennsylvania fought at Petersburg.
URL: http://www.icyousee.org/pa62d/petersburg.html