General Robert E. Lee deplored the loss of Fort Harrison and made immediate efforts to recapture it. Lee himself accompanied a large body of reinforcements from Petersburg on September 29. The next afternoon he threw five veteran brigades, numbering 5,000 men, into an attack against Fort Harrison. Union infantrymen stood here with little protection, not having had time to build substantial entrenchments or to enclose the old Confederate fort. But superior weaponry and and outstanding field of fire across the treeless plain to their front gave the advantage to the defenders. Disjointed Confederate attacks ended disastrously, with over 1,000 casualties. Fort Harrison stayed in Union hands for the rest of the war.
Five years later a battlefield visitor explained the fate of many Confederates killed on September 30, 1864:
"We saw in a small field northwest of the fort...about 50, or more, bodies—or, the bones of bodies...and in the adjacent bushes were four times the number...the tenant of the land has gathered up two large piles of the bones and burnt them to ashes."
Richmond Dispatch, April 8, 1869
Artist William Waud made this sketch while the Confederate counterattack was underway. In the days following this attack, the Confederates steadily shelled the Union defenders of Fort Burnham while both armies built new lines.