Petersburg, Virginia (JFK+50) 150 years ago today, March 25, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched what was to be his last attack of the Civil War. The attack on Fort Stedman was a last gasp effort to break out of Petersburg where the Army of Northern Virginia had been under siege by the Army of the Potomac under General Ulysses S. Grant.
The Siege of Petersburg had lasted nine months, and Lee knew the war of attrition could not continue much longer. He directed General John B. Gordon to find a weak point in the Union line where the Southern army could break through.
Gordon chose Fort Stedman which was only 150 yards from the Confederate lines. General Gordon's 11,000 troops had initial success capturing more than a thousand yards of enemy trenches, but by nightfall they were pushed back to their original position thanks to Union reinforcements.
General Lee had no choice but to write to President Jefferson Davis that the line at Petersburg could not be held much longer. Two weeks later, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant bringing an end to the Civil War.
"Battle of Fort Stedman, Virginia," This Day In History, May 25, www.history.com/