On the 25th of March, however, Lee
made an attack upon the right of Meade
's line, in front of the Ninth corps.
The point selected was a fort a little more than half a mile from the Appomattox
, where the national works crossed the Prince George courthouse
road, and one of the positions gained in the first assaults on Petersburg
The work was a small one, without bastions, known as Fort Steadman, and the opposing lines were not more than a hundred and fifty yards apart, the pickets only fifty yards. At half-past 4 on the morning of March 25th, long before dawn, the rebels moved against Parke
's line east of Fort Steadman, with Gordon
's corps, reinforced by Bushrod Johnson
Taking advantage of Grant
's order allowing deserters to bring their arms with them across the lines, they sent forward squads of pretended deserters, who by this ruse gained possession of several of the picket posts.
These were closely followed by a strong storming party of picked men, and this again by three heavy columns.
's pickets were overwhelmed after one discharge of their pieces; the trench guard, though resisting stoutly, was unable to withstand the rush of numbers, and the main line was broken.
The rebels turned at once to the right and left, and their right-hand column soon gained a small battery, open in the rear, from which they assaulted Fort Steadman.
The garrison, consisting of a battalion of heavy artillery, made a vigorous resistance, but being attacked in front, flank, and rear, was overpowered; most of the men were captured, and the guns were turned at once on the national troops on either side.
The enemy then pushed gradually