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Battle of Poplar Spring Church, VA
in the American Civil War

Union Battle Summary

Poplar Spring Church, Va., Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 1864. Parts of the 5th, 9th and 2nd Army Corps and Gregg's Cavalry Division. Poplar Spring Church was about 5 miles southwest of Petersburg, 2 miles west of the Weldon railroad at Globe tavern, and near the right of the Confederate line. The capture of Fort Harrison, on the north side of the James, by the Union forces on the 29th forced Gen. Lee to send reinforcements to that side of the river, and Gen. Grant determined upon a reconnaissance toward the enemy's right with a view of attacking the works if it was found that the force there had been sufficiently weakened by the withdrawal of troops. In any event the demonstration was to be made sufficiently vigorous to prevent further detachments being sent to Fort Harrison. Gen. Warren, commanding the 5th corps, moved on the morning of the 30th, with the divisions of Griffin and Ayres, from the left of the Union line toward the church. He was followed by Gen. Parke, with the divisions of Willcox and Potter of the 9th corps, while Gregg's cavalry was sent farther to the left and rear. Griffin found the enemy in an intrenched position on the Peebles farm and immediately attacked his works, carrying a redoubt and a line of rifle-pits, taking 1 gun and about 100 prisoners. In the afternoon, as Parke was moving to Warren's left, Potter's division met the enemy near the Pegram house. Understanding that Griffin's division was to support his right, Potter disposed his forces for an attack. The skirmishers were gradually forced back to about a quarter of a mile beyond the Pegram house, where the enemy was encountered in force, with a battery in position to enfilade the road. Griffin had failed to make connection with Potter's right and it was soon discovered that the enemy's line overlapped that flank. Fearing that he would be cut off, Potter issued orders for a change in the disposition of his men, but before the change could be effected the Confederates made a determined attack on the exposed flank, forcing back the Union ranks in some confusion. The 7th R.I., which had been held in reserve, was directed to form a new line near the Pegram house and stop all who were falling to the rear. Curtin's brigade was drawn back to the new line, the enemy was checked for the time being, and Griffin's division came up in time to aid in repelling the next assault. The Federals then took up a position along the line of the works captured from the enemy earlier in the day, the 9th corps connecting with the 5th on the right, the left refused to cover the Squirrel Level road, and during the night this line was intrenched.

But little fighting was done on Oct. 1. Gregg, who had moved on the Vaughan road to the Union left, was attacked, but the attack was repulsed. Warren was also attacked, but held his position and drove the Confederates with slight loss on both sides. In the afternoon Mott's division of the 2nd corps reported to Parke and was massed in the rear of the 9th corps. On the 2nd Parke advanced, and after some sharp skirmishing established a line of intrenchments about a mile from that of the enemy. This line was connected with the works on the Weldon railroad and later was extended to the rear on the left, through the Pegram farm, to cover the Squirrel Level road.

The Union casualties in the several engagements about Poplar Spring Church were 187 killed, 900 wounded and 1,802 missing. The Confederate loss was not ascertained.

Source: The Union Army, Volume 6, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


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