City Point Depot
City Point Depot (1864-1867) - A U.S. Civil War forward supply depot established in 1864 by Union forces in Prince George County, Virginia. Named for the location. Abandoned in 1867.
The town of City Point was located at a strategic point of land at the confluence of the James River and the Appomattox River. This confluence provided deep water access to Union controlled Chesapeake Bay.
Union forces under the command of Major General Benjamin Butler landed at City Point and captured the town on 5 May 1864. The Union force expanded the perimeter around the point and built an inner line of defenses to protect it from raiding confederates. With City Point secured, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant moved his headquarters to City Point on 15 Jun 1864 and began operations against Petersburg in a effort to cut off Richmond from the rest of the south. On 21 Jun 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad made a three day visit to City Point to confer with Grant.
City Point rapidly expanded as the Union logistic hub of the battle for Richmond and Petersburg. It became one of the busiest ports in the world with troops and supplies pouring into the depot. The port at City Point usually had anywhere from 150 to 200 ships anchored and waiting to discharge cargo at the newly built wharfs. Over 390 ships were used to carry supplies and munitions from northern supply points to City Point. Over 3,000 workers were employed in offloading the ships and transferring the supplies to waiting railcars.
City Point continued to expanded as the logistic hub to support the new Union ring of fortifications around Petersburg. Rail lines were constructed from the wharf complex at City Point to the Union fortifications around Petersburg. These rail lines eventually ran 22 miles around Petersburg with up to 24 locomotives carrying an average of 1,400 tons of supplies per day to the front lines. Sick and wounded soldiers were transported back to the hospitals at city point by the returning trains.
Seven modern hospitals were built at City Point to handle the expected large numbers of casualties. The largest of the hospitals was the Depot Field Hospital which could handle 10,000 patients and occupied 200 acres. These new hospitals were a far cry from the primitive facilities available at the beginning of the war and offered the best care yet available in the field.
General Grant attacked the confederate defenses around Petersburg during the summer of 1864 with limited success and the siege of Richmond/Petersburg settled into a waiting game with City Point directly supporting the conflict. Thirty days of rations for the troops and twenty days of rations for the animals required that City Point maintain 10,800,000 meals worth of rations and 17,000 tons of food stored at any time. The bakery produced 100,000 loaves of bread a day and the trains delivered it fresh to the troops in the field. City Point Depot became the first huge forward supply depot and established a concept that continues today. In October 1864 General Grant ordered an outer ring of fortifications built to protect the expanding City Point Depot from Confederate raiders. By the end of October 1864, eight forts were constructed that encircled the outer edge of the depot and General Grant's headquarters. These forts were mainly located along what is now 16th Street in the city.
President Lincoln again visited City Point on 24 Mar 1865 and stayed two weeks. On 29 Mar 1865 General Grant moved his headquarters from City Point closer to the front. On 2-3 Apr 1865 the Confederate forces were forced to evacuate Richmond and Petersburg and they fled west toward Appomattox Court House where General Lee finally surrendered. After the war ended, City Point continued in operation to resupply Union troops headed north and to process Confederate equipment and animals for reissue to the southern troops headed for home.
On 4 Nov 1867 the last Federal troop detachment departed the City Point post.
City Point Depot Timeline
Part of Petersburg National Battlefield Park, City Point Unit, Prince George County, Virginia
Visited: 6 Apr 2012