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

Page 21 Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.

On the night of the 20th the troops on the north side of the James were withdrawn, and Hancock and Gregg returned to the front of Petersburg. On the 25th the Second Corps and Gregg's division of cavalry, while at Reams' Station destroying the railroad, were attacked, and after desperate fighting a part of our line gave way and 5 pieces of artillery fell into the hands of the enemy. By the 12th of September a branch railroad was completed from the City Point and Petersburg Railroad to the Weldon railroad, enabling us to supply without difficulty, in all weather, the army in front of Petersburg. The extension of our lines across the Weldon railroad compelled the enemy to so extend his that is seemed he could have but few troops north of the James for the defense of Richmond. On the night of the 28th the Tenth Corps, Major-General Birney, and the Eighth Corps, Major-General Ord commanding, of General Butler's army, were crossed to the north side of the James, and advanced on the morning of the 29th, carrying the very strong fortifications and intrenchments below Chaffin's Farm, known as Fort Harrison, capturing 15 pieces of artillery and the New Market road and intrenchments. This success was followed up by a gallant assault upon Fort Gilmer, immediately in front of the Chaffin farm fortifications, in which we were repulsed with heavy loss. Kautz's cavalry was pushed forward on the road to the right of this, supported by infantry, and reached the enemy's inner line, but was unable to get farther. The position captured from the enemy was so threatening to Richmond that I determined to hold it. The enemy made several desperate attempts to dislodge us, all of which were unsuccessful,and for which he paid dearly. On the morning of the 30th General Meade sent out a reconnaissance with a view to attacking the enemy's line if it was found sufficiently weakened by withdrawal of troops to the north side. In this reconnaissance we captured and held the enemy's works near Poplar Spring Church. In the afternoon troops moving to get to the left of the point gained were attacked by the enemy in heavy force and compelled to fall back until supported by the forces holding the captured works. Our cavalry,under Gregg, was also attacked, but repulsed the enemy with great loss. On the 7th of October the enemy attacked Kautz's cavalry north of the James and drove in back with heavy loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, and the loss of all the artillery -8 or 9 pieces. This he followed up by an attack on our intrenched infantry line, but was repulsed with severe slaughter. On the 13th a reconnaissance was sent out by General Butler with a view to drive the enemy from some new works he was constructing, which resulted in very heavy loss to us.

On the 27th the Army of the Potomac, leaving only sufficient men to hold its fortified line, moved by the enemy's right flank. The Second Corps, followed by two divisions of the Fifth Corps, with the cavalry in advance and covering our left flank, forced a passage of Hatcher's Run, and moved up the south side of it toward the South Side Railroad, until the Second Corps and part of the cavalry reached the Boydton plank road where it crossed Hatcher's Run. At this point we were six miles distant from the South Side Railroad, which I had hoped by his movement to reach and hold. But finding that we have not reached the end of the enemy's fortifications, and no place presenting itself for a successful assault by which he might be doubled up and shortened, I determined to withdraw to within our fortified lines. Orders were given accordingly.


Page 21 Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.