"The Forlorn Hope"
Just past 4:30 p.m. on June 18, 1864, at a point east of the city of Petersburg, Virginia, 900 men of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery scrambled up the high bank which bordered the Prince George Courthouse Road. Regimental colonel, Daniel Chaplin, now commanding their own 3rd brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Corps, watched He had brought these men from Maine in 1862 as the 18th Maine Infantry. Redesignated as the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, commanded by Major Russell B. Sheperd, moved and acted like a regiment of regulars. Colonel Chaplin commanded by Major Russell B. Sheperd had received word that his new command, consisting of infantry regiments as well as the 1st Maine, had been chosen to try a breakthrough of the Confederate line. The veteran regiments would move in close support of the Maine regiment. Strong reserves would be ready to follow up once the Confederate line was pierced. The Army of the Potomac had reached the outskirts of Petersburg 3 days before, numerous attempts had been made to crack the Confederate line; none had succeeded. Major Sheperd broke the silence, "Forward, Double Quick - Charge!" With a cheer, the Confederate works erupted in a sheet of flame. At a run, the 1st Maine surged ahead -The veteran regiments went forward only a short distance before breaking. Now the Confederate line, infantry and artillery, had only a single target, the lone Maine regiment. The first rank, then the second and third were literally torn to pieces. In less than ten minutes it was over. Those who could, retreated to the shelter of the sunken road. But most remained on the field. None had even reached the first objective.