Following the Federal victories at Opequon Creek and Fisher’s Hill in late September 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant prepared an offensive to prevent Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from reinforcing his troops in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant planned a two-pronged assault with Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac striking at the Southside Railroad near Petersburg while Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James struck north of the James River to threaten the Confederate Capital.
Butler called his subordinates together on September 28th and outlined the plan, part of which called for Maj. Gen. David B. Birney’s X Corps to attack from the Deep Bottom Bridgehead and take New Market Heights. Spearheading this attack would be Brig. Gen. Charles Paine’s Third Division of the XVIII Corps, a unit comprised entirely of United States Colored Troops.
The New Market Heights Battlefield was been placed on the 2021 List of Virginia's Most Endangered List by Preservation Virginia.
On April 11, 2022, the Coalition for the Protection of New Market Heights Battlefield applauded the decision of the nation’s largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton, to terminate its contract to build 650 homes on the Civil War battlefield where U.S. Colored Troops demonstrated exceptional bravery and helped save the Union.
“It is our hope,” said Jeff Dawes of the Coalition, “that DR Horton’s decision will lead to preservation of this significant battlefield to enable future interpretations and memorialization of the USCT.”