Petersburg National Battlefield is a National Park Service unit preserving sites related to the American Civil War Siege of Petersburg (1864–65). The Battlefield is centered on the city of Petersburg, Virginia, and also includes outlying components in Hopewell, Prince George County, and Dinwiddie County. Over 140,000 people visit the park annually. This post will cover the Eastern Front portion of the park. Popularly known as the siege of Petersburg, this was not a classic military siege, in which a city is usually surrounded and all supply lines are cut off, nor was it strictly limited to actions against Petersburg. The campaign consisted of nine months of trench warfare in which Union forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Petersburg unsuccessfully and then constructed trench lines that eventually extended over 30 miles from the eastern outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, to around the eastern and southern outskirts of Petersburg.
One of the most famous battles of the siege is the Battle of the Crater. Union forces tunneled under the confederate lines and filled the tunnel with explosives. After the explosion a massive crater was created in the confederate line. The Union forces charged down into the cuter instead of going around the edge. The confederates fired down into the crater from the edge causing a Union retreat. What could have been a major advantage turned into a major defeat.