When Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant failed in their initial attempts to capture Lee’s Confederate stronghold at Petersburg, Virginia, 25 miles south of Richmond, in the spring of 1864, the two sides found themselves locked in a prolonged siege operation.
Brigadier General Rufus Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster for the Army of the Potomac, selected nearby City Point -- strategically located at the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers -- as the main forward supply depot. Some 200-250 ships began arriving daily. And overnight this obscure, backwater bluff-town was transformed into one of the busiest ports in the world.
More than a mile and a half of wharves were built, along with scores of new buildings and warehouses. A railroad terminal with 25 engines and 275 boxcars, and thousands of mule-drawn wagons, stood ready to transport 1,500 tons of supplies off-loaded daily to the siege-lines at Petersburg eight miles away.
On 24 March 1865 President Lincoln toured City Point Depot and saw firsthand the endless flood of supplies, food, weapons, arms, and equipment -- the sinews of war that made Grant’s victory possible. With the end in sight, Appomattox was but a short two weeks away.
For more information on this topic go to: City Point: The Tool that gave General Grant Victory
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: President Lincoln at City Point Depot
Date: March 1865
"There never was a corps better organized than was the quartermaster's corps with the Army of the Potomac in 1864."
- General Ulysses S. Grant