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By the time of the arrival of the Confederate army at Cold Harbor, the third line of defenses had been run northeast from Chaffin's Bluff to the Charles City road, which was crossed four and one-half miles outside of the city, thence directly north to the ground overlooking the swampy lowlands of the Chickahominy, where it terminated abruptly, its flank commanding New Bridge, five miles outside of Richmond. From here, detached works held the ground upstream overlooking the river, and connected with the lines that had been started on ground overlooking the Chickahominy bottoms directly north of the city the year before. These were now completed, and the lines of detached works followed the right bank of Brook Run to its source and then bent toward the James, across the Deep Run turnpike and the Plank Road, four miles up the James from the outskirts of the city. The completion of this line resulted in there being three strong lines of defense.

The weary ten months which followed tested the strength of the gradually weakening defense. All realized that the fall of Petersburg meant the fall of Richmond, and that the patient toil on the miles of entrenchments around the capital finally had had the effect of causing the blow to fall elsewhere. Two expeditions were sent by Grant against the lines to the north of Richmond, but not in sufficient strength to test the works. The principal object was to weaken the forces defending Petersburg so as to permit a successful assault to be delivered.

The Federal army, under able leaders tested in the furnace of war, exhausted every device to break through the Petersburg lines. They tried them by assault, by mining, by flanking, and by bombardment. Lee's genius, seconded by that of his officers, and maintained by the gallant devotion of his troops, held on till the army was worn out and the stretching of the lines by constant extension to meet the Federal movements to the left, finally caused them to be so weak as to break under a Federal assault. Petersburg was abandoned, and Richmond fell.

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