Rally the Rails
  Ironically, Beauregard's victory on June 18 lost Lee any hope of regaining the tactical initiative.
  Another result was that the Federals now had the second of five railroads supplying Petersburg.  Before the battle lines could harden into formidable earthworks, Grant moved to capture one more.  On June 21, the Second Corps, supported by the Sixth, moved south along the Federal line and spread along Jerusalem Plank Road.  Scouting parties actually pushed west as far as the tracks of the Weldon Railroad, and orders were issued for a full scale advance the next day.
  This supply link was too important to surrender without a fight, so when three divisions from the Second Corps moved out from the Jerusalem Plank Road on June 22, two Confederate divisions were sent out from the Petersburg  entrenchments to intercept them.  These Yankee units were once considered the elite of the Army of the Potomac, but the fighting of May and June had fallen especially heavily on this corps, which had lost so many regimental officers and sergeants
that its morale and efficiency were poor.  So when Rebel troops came screaming out of the woods, the Second Corps, wrote Private Bernard  in his diary, " we were soon put on the run."
  The Union troops finally rallied along the Jerusalem Plank Road, but 2,400 were now casualties, with 1,700 prisoners.  Embolded by this apparent weakness, Robert E. Lee planned a counter stroke to unhinge Grant's line from the Appomattox River and shove it away from petersburg.
Lee's army had also suffered appalling losses in the May campaign, however, and he was no more adept at melding units from seperate armies (in this case, a division from Beauregard's command with one from his own) than was Grant.  The unsuccessful attack that took place June 24 merely added 300 names to Lee's casualty rolls.  Reviewing this action, Lee commented that there seemed "to have been some misunderstanding as to the part each division was expected to have performed."
    In an operation that was part of Grant's larger plan, Major General James H. Wilson set out from Petersburg on June 22 with two cavalry divisions (about 5,000 troopers) with orders to wreck the railroad lines west of the city.  Wilson accomplished most of his task but was met by a surperior force force on his return and defeated near Reams Station on June 29, losing most of his wagons and allowing many of the slaves who had escaped to join his column to be retaken.
Rise to the Moment
Siege Index
Battle of the Crater
"Battle of the Crater"