Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center
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About this presentation:
General Ulysses S. Grant had made several attempts to break through the Confederate defenses guarding Petersburg and Richmond. During his Fifth Offensive, he tried to attack simultaneously on both sides of the James River. As George Meade’s Army of the Potomac struck toward the railroads coming into Petersburg, Benjamin Franklin Butler’s Army of the James attacked Southern fortifications at Chaffin’s Bluff and New Market Heights below Richmond. Brigadier General Charles Paine’s Third Division, composed of US Colored Troops units, spearheaded the dawn assault on September 29, 1864. The USCT soldiers displayed such great valor that 14 were awarded the Medal of Honor. Butler was so impressed by these soldiers that he minted 199 silver medals to honor even more soldiers. Although this engagement did not result in the capture of Richmond, it did prove the gallantry of these African American soldiers.
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