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[545] against Petersburg have been ordinarily called a siege, it could not in strictness of language be so denominated, as the communications in the rear, as well as to the north and south, were still open. It was really a conflict between opposing entrenchments.

General Grant had crossed a force into Charles City, on the north bank of the James, and thus menaced Richmond with an assault from that quarter. His line extended thence across the neck of the peninsula of Bermuda Hundred, and east and south of Petersburg, where it gradually stretched westward, approaching nearer and nearer to the railroads bringing the supplies for our army and for Richmond. The line of General Lee conformed to that of General Grant. In addition to the works east and southeast of Richmond, an exterior line of defense had been constructed against the hostile forces at Deep Bottom, and, in addition to a fortification of some strength at Drewry's Bluff, obstructions were placed in the river to prevent the ascent of the Federal gunboats. The lines thence continued facing those of the enemy north of the Appomattox and, crossing that stream, extended around the city of Petersburg, gradually moving westward with the works of the enemy. The struggle that ensued consisted chiefly of attempts to break through our lines. These it is not my purpose to notice seriatim; some of them, however, it is thought necessary to mention. While at Petersburg, the assaults of the enemy were met by a resistance sufficient to repel his most vigorous attacks; our force confronting Deep Bottom was known to be so small as to suggest an attempt to capture Richmond by a movement on the north side of the James. On July 26th a corps of infantry was sent over to Deep Bottom to move against our pontoon bridges near Drewry's Bluff, so as to prevent Lee from sending reenforcements to the north side of the James, while Sheridan with his cavalry moved to the north side of Richmond to attack the works which, being poorly garrisoned, it was thought might be taken by assault. Lee, discovering the movement after the enemy had gained some partial success, sent over reenforcements, which drove him back and defeated the expedition. On the night of the 28th the infantry corps (Hancock's) was secretly withdrawn from the north side of the river, to cooperate in the grand assault which Grant was preparing to make upon Lee's entrenchments. The uniform failure, as has been stated, of the assaults upon our lines had caused the conclusion that they could succeed only after a breach had been made in the works. For that purpose a subterranean gallery for a mine was run under one of our forts. General Burnside, who conducted the operation, thus describes the work:

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