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The Attack On Fort Stedman, And (My Great Grandfather)

 
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btownsend
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Joined: 08 Mar 2007
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PostPosted:     Post subject: The Attack On Fort Stedman, And (My Great Grandfather) Reply with quote

"The words of the gallant leader in the last desperate and forlorn hope that charged Fort Stedman, General Gordon, gave a pen-picture of the Southern fighting man:

'Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood of many of Lee's men from insufficient and unsound food that a slight wound, which would probably not have been reported at the beginning of the war, would often cause blood-poison, gangrene and death, yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate.'

But not only was its physical aliments and consequent inability to fight their best which brought about the downfall, it was the numbers, the overwhelming numbers that were opposed against them. In an interview with General Gordon, Lee laid before him his reports, which showed how completely he understood the situation. Of his own 50,000 men but 35,000 were fit for duty. Lee's estimate of the forces of Grant was between 140,000 and 150,000. Coming up from Knoxville was Schofield with as estimated force of 30,000 superb troops. From the valley Grant was bringing up nearly 20,000 more, against whom, as Lee expressed it, he 'could oppose scarcely a vidette.' Sherman was approaching from North Carolina, and his force when united with Scofield's would reach 80,000. It was impossible, and yet it was after this, that Gordon made his charge."

Private John Pelopidus Leach, my great grandfather, was one of the soldiers picked to make the night time assault on Fort Stedman and the men were promised a gold medal and thirty days leave. After the War, General Gordon answered a letter from him:

My Dear Sir:

Your letter of recent date recalled the thrilling incidents around the historic trenches of Petersburg. I remember the promise of the gold medal and it would have been forthcoming if the South had won her independence. But as fate decreed otherwise you will have to be content with the small favor you ask in lieu of the well won medal. The record of the true soldier will outlive the glittering gold promised and I trust the heroes of Hare's Hill will be accorded their just meed of praise when the history of the Southern conflict is written.

With cordial regards in which Mrs. Gordon joins, I am

Yours faithfully,

J. B. Gordon

(I have a newspaper account of the actual battle which my great grandfather wrote, and I will post it as soon as I find it. BT)


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btownsend
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PostPosted:     Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand that the Ft. Mahone site is now a Pizza Hut.............

**********************************

I thought these email communications would be interesting to post concerning my site Free North Carolina.

1. Hi Brock,

I was just reading your article on the attack on Fort Stedman in March of 1865. Actually, Fort Mahone was not directly in front of Fort Stedman, but was two or three miles to the slight southwest of that location. Fort Mahone (or Fort Damnation) was across from a Union fort named Fort Sedgwick (or Fort Hell) in the south outskirts of Petersburg. Fort Sedgwick was open for years as a popular tourist attraction in Petersburg after the war but was bulldozed in the 1960's after the owner tried unsuccessfully to give it to the City of Petersburg. He then sold to developers. On April 2,1865, Fort Mahone was one of the Confederate positions that successfully repelled the Union attacks and the commanders of the fort were actually preparing for a counterattack when they received orders to prepare for the evacuation of the city that night. I'm glad to hear that your ancestor survived the war.

Terry W. Barfield
Church Road, Va.

2. Thank you, Sir, so should I correct it as follows or do you suggest different wording?

My great grandfather and great uncle knew all the men in the "Civil War Requiem" video as they were part of the 53rd NC which was the sole unit defending Fort Mahone. (Fort Mahone was named "Fort Damnation" by the Yankees) *Handpicked men of the 53rd (My great grandfather was one of these) made the final, night assault at Petersburg in an attempt to break Grant's line. This was against Fort Stedman which was a few miles to the slight southwest .

3. Hi Brock,

The soldiers used for the night assault on Fort Stedman were amassed in Blandford Cemetery which was a few hundred yards across from the fort. This area was later used for the mass burial ground of approx. 37,000 Confedrates after the war and was named the Memorial Hill section which it is still called today. Your wording sounds good but Fort Mahone was a few miles slight southwest therefore Fort Stedman would be a few miles slight northeast of Mahone. Thanks for your prompt reply.
Terry
Deo Vindice

4. Well, how should it be worded please? Or are you stating some of the soldiers of the 53rd did not assault? Did you read General Gordon's reply to my great grandfather after the war?

http://freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2012/02/william-allen-uncle-bill-lundy-january.html#comment-form
Private John Pelopidus Leach, my great grandfather, was one of the soldiers picked to make the night time assault on Fort Stedman and the men were promised a gold medal and thirty days leave. After the War, General Gordon answered a letter from him:

My Dear Sir:

Your letter of recent date recalled the thrilling incidents around the historic trenches of Petersburg. I remember the promise of the gold medal and it would have been forthcoming if the South had won her independence. But as fate decreed otherwise you will have to be content with the small favor you ask in lieu of the well won medal. The record of the true soldier will outlive the glittering gold promised and I trust the heroes of Hare's Hill will be accorded their just meed of praise when the history of the Southern conflict is written.

With cordial regards in which Mrs. Gordon joins, I am

Yours faithfully,

J. B. Gordon

5. I'm not stating that at all. It is my understanding that the soldiers used in that attack were considered the best left that Lee's army had to offer. That your great grandfather was chosen as one of the men used in the offensive is high praise indeed. The attack itself did not come from Fort Mahone as the soldiers were amassed directly across from Fort Stedman on what is now Memorial Hill. The troops from Fort Mahone were moved to this location before the assault. The only change that needs to be made is the last sentence. It should read; "This was against Fort Stedman which was a few miles to the slight northeast."

6. That you, Sir, I was confused which wasn't the first time nor will it be the last!:) I went to Petersburg years ago to try and determine these locations and I wish I had known you then. Do you live near there? I was born in Raleigh, but lived in Marshall, Fauquier county from five until Vietnam. My boyhood friend lives in Middleburg and I visit him when I can. See the first two pictures.
Middleburg, Warrenton, Marshall, Fredericksburg/Raleigh

7. Hi Brock,

Yes, I'm a native of Petersburg and grew up less than a mile from the sites of Fort Mahone and Fort Sedgwick. Sadly, that whole area is a mass of commercialization with very few traces of the war left. I now live south of Petersburg in Dinwiddie County which is where the last battles of the seige were fought before the retreat to Appomattox. One of my ancestors was in the 57th Va. Inf. Co. D and fought at Gettysburg in Pickett's Charge. He was captured and ended up at Point Lookout. He survived the war and lived until the ripe old age of 90. I've traveled all over the state touring the battlefields and easily recognize the Spotsylvania Cemetery. I see that you grew up in "Mosby's Confederacy". It's been a few years since I've visited that area but still remember how beautiful the country was.

I'm kind of a history buff on this area so if you ever get up this way again, drop me a line and give me enough notice and I'll be glad to show you the site of Fort Mahone as well as other points of interest concerning the war in our neck of the woods. I'm free most weekends. Take care.

Terry

8. Thank you and I will certainly make note of this and post our communication on my other site. Memories Of Dixie
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