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16 Series I Volume XXXVIII-I Serial 72 - The Atlanta Campaign Part I

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Page 16 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

it to be in our possession. At this place he was met by the enemy's cavalry, supported by infantry, and forced to retire, with the loss of his artillery and trains. In this last encounter General Kautz, with a part of his command, became separated and made his way into our lines. General Wilson, with the remainder of his force, succeeded in crossing the Nottoway River, and coming in safely on our left and rear. The damage to the enemy in this expedition more than compensated for the losses we sustained. It severed all connection by railroad with Richmond for several weeks.

With a view of cutting the enemy's railroad from near Richmond to the Anna River, and making him wary of the situation of his army in the Shenanodah, and in the event of failure in this to take advantage of his necessary withdrawal of troops Petersburg to explode a mine that had been prepared in front of the Ninth Corps and assault the enemy's lines at that place, on the night of the 26th of July the Second Corps and two divisions of the Cavalry Corps and Kautz's cavalry were crossed to the nought bank of the James River and joined the force General Butler had there. On the 27th the enemy was driven from his intrenched position, with the loss of four pieces of artillery. On the 28th our lines were extended from Deep Bottom to New Market road,but in getting this position were attacked by the enemy in heavy force. The fighting lasted for several hours, resulting in considerable loss to both sides. The first object of this move having failed, by reason of the very large force thrown there by the enemy, I determined to take advantage of the diversion made, by assaulting Petersburg before he could get his force back there. One division of the Second Corps was withdrawn on the night of the 28th, and moved during the night to the rear of the Eighteenth Corps, to relieve that corps in the line, that it might be foot-loose in the assault to be made. The other two divisions of the Second Corps and Sheridan's cavalry were crossed over on the night of the 29th, and moved in front of Petersburg. On the morning of the 30th, between 4 and 5 o'clock, the mine was sprung, blowing up a battery and most of a regiment, and the advance of the assaulting column, formed of the Ninth Corps, immediately took possession of the crater made by the explosion, and the line for some distance to the right and left of it,and a detached line in front of it, but for some cause failed to advance promptly to the ridge beyond. Had they done this, I have every reason to believe that Petersburg would have fallen. Other troops were immediately pushed forward, but the time consumed in getting them up enabled the enemy to rally from his surprise (which had been complete) and get forces to this point for its defense. The captured line thus held being untenable and of no advantage to us, the troops were withdrawn, but not without heavy loss. Thus terminated in disaster what promised to be the most successful assault of the campaign.*

Immediately upon the enemy ascertaining that General Hunter was retreating from Lynchburg by way of the Kanawha River, thus laying the Shenandoah Valley open for raids into Maryland and Pennsylvania, he returned northward, and moved down that Valley. As soon as this movement of the enemy was ascertained, General Hunter, who had reached the Kanawha River, was directed to move his troops without delay, by river and railroad, to Harper's Ferry; but owing to the difficulty of navigation by reason of low water and

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*Subordinate reports of operations against Petersburg and Richmond from June 13 to July, 1864, will appear in Vol. XL.

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Page 16 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

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