Map of the Deep Bottom Area

This map is based on the one on page 32 of Richard Sommers's Richmond Redeemed, and shows the general topography of the area just north of Deep Bottom.

Federal operations in this area were constrained by the watercourses and the presence of New Market Heights. If the Yankees crossed west of the mouth of Bailey's Creek, they avoided having to fight across that stream, but at the same time had to directly assault the Rebel lines on New Market Heights. If they crossed east of Bailey's Creek, they could avoid the heights by marching inland and taking the position in flank, but this would require forcing a crossing of Bailey's Creek, as well as a longer flank march.

The Federals launched three expeditions into this area, using pontoon bridges across the James on either side of the mouth of Bailey's Creek. In late July of 1864, Hancock took II Corps into this area to the east of Bailey's Creek and tried, unsuccessfully, to turn the Rebel lines farther north than this map shows. This was part of the operations connected with Burnside's mine, and led to a series of engagements known variously as Darbytown Road, Deep Bottom, Strawberry Plains, and New Market Road. Less than a month later, in mid-August, II Corps and X Corps were both sent to operate in this area, leading to Fussell's Mill, Second Deep Bottom, Second Darbytown Road, etc.

Finally, in late September, Birney led X Corps across the pontoon bridge again, while Ord took XVIII Corps across the James at a point a few miles further upstream. While Birney tried to directly assault the Confederate lines in front of New Market Heights and along the New Market Road, Ord was able to directly assault and capture Fort Harrison on the outer Richmond defenses. Ord's appearence forced the Confederates to evacuate the New Market line, which fell to Birney's X Corps troops. This is usually known as the Third Battle of New Market Heights.

The Federal bridgehead at Deep Bottom was vital to the eventual success of the siege operations, for it enabled Grant to operate on something approximating interior lines with respect to the Confederate defenses. Lee could not ignore the possibility of a Federal coup de main being launched against Richmond, and Butler's success in late September forced Lee to detach more troops to watch the Northside sector of his lines, troops he could ill afford to spare.