Thursday, April 11, 2013

Siege of Suffolk

After the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862, the decision had been made to send Longstreet and his troops away from the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia. There wasn’t an immediate need to defend against a Federal attack, supplies were low in Northern Virginia, and there were other places troops could be used. For these reasons, Longstreet was made commander of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. His missions were to protect Richmond, gather supplies, and capture Suffolk, Virginia, if possible.

Siege Gun

Longstreet began moving to Suffolk 150 years ago today. He had about 25,000 men against a garrison of 20,000, under the command of John Peck. Confederate reconnaissances and probes showed that a frontal attack was unlikely to succeed. Therefore, the Confederate troops dug entrenchments and their commanders looked for an opportunity to strike. The siege lasted until May 1st, when Longstreet withdrew to support Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville. There were several engagements in the fighting around Suffolk in which the Union troops attacked several Confederate positions. However, none of them were decisive in breaking the siege. Casualties totaled for the Union about 50 killed and 200 wounded, for the Confederates 500 killed and wounded, and 400 captured.


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