Number 374. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Major General Wade Hampton, C. S. Army commanding Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, of operations August 25, September 14 – 17, September 29-October 1, October 27 – 28, and December 7 – 11

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 374. Reports of Major General Wade Hampton, C. S. Army commanding Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, of operations August 25, September 14 – 17, September 29-October 1, October 27 – 28, and December 7 – 11.1

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
August 29, 1864.

COLONEL: In pursuance of orders from the general commanding, I moved with the First and Third Divisions of Cavalry, under the command of Brigadier-Generals Butler and Barringer, to co-operate with Lieutenant-General Hill in an attack on the enemy at Reams’ Station, at 5 a. m. August 25. After consultation with General Hill I was directed to strike the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, with my main force on the left flank of the enemy, whilst another portion of my command was to cover the approach of General Hill on Reams’ Station. I ordered General Barringer to take his own brigade up the Halifax road toward Malone’s Crossing, and to send Chambliss’ brigade, under command of Colonel J. Lucius Davis, up Malone’s road, across Malone’s Bridge, to the same point. This latter brigade was supported by Rosser’s and Young’s brigades, under command of Major-General Butler, General Rosser commanding his own, and Colonel Wright Young’s

brigade. Dunovant’s brigade was left in reserve to protect the rear and flank of General Hill. These dispositions having been made, I crossed with the column at Malone’s Bridge, and met the advance pickets of the enemy a short distance beyond at 9 a. m. These were driven in, when the enemy, in a strong position and some force, was encountered. Colonel Davis dismounted a portion of his brigade, and immediately engaged them. After a sharp fight the enemy gave way, falling back toward Malone’s Crossing. We pursued him vigorously and rapidly, forcing all the cavalry we met to retreat toward Reams’ Station, leaving their dead and wounded on the ground. McGregor brought a section of his battery up at this moment, and by a rapid and well-directed fire contributed greatly to the confusion of the enemy. Their guns were admirably served during the whole engagement, and I beg to express my entire satisfaction at the conduct of Captain McGregor and his men. The enemy brought their infantry to take the place of their cavalry, deploying a heavy force in my front, whilst they attempted to turn both my flanks. In this they were foiled, and I held my ground steadily. In the meantime General Hill was notified of the condition of affairs and the position of the enemy, with a suggestion that he should attack promptly. He replied that he would do so, and he desired me to endeavor to draw the enemy down the railroad, so that he could take them in the rear. I withdrew my lines about 400 yards, but the enemy followed with great caution. General Barringer, whom I had sent with his brigade to the east of the railroad, reported that he had met a strong force of infantry, with cavalry, on the road by which he was advancing. I ordered him to picket the road strongly and to join me with his command at Malone’s Crossing. This he did just as my line was retired, and I dismounted the Second North Carolina Regiment, under Colonel Roberts, ordering him to take position on the right of the line and to attempt to turn the flank of the enemy if an opportunity offered. At 5 p. m. the artillery of General Hill opened fire, and I at once ordered an advance of my whole line, which was then formed across the railroad at Malone’s Crossing. This order was promptly obeyed, and the enemy gave way. They were driven to their works near Reams’ Station, giving up several positions which they had fortified. Colonel Roberts, with his regiment, charged here one line of rifle-pits, carrying it handsomely, and capturing from 60 to 75 prisoners. In the meantime, seeing that General Hill was forcing the enemy back from the west side of the railroad into their works around the station, I withdrew all my force from that side of the road and formed a line, with Chambliss’ brigade on the left, the North Carolina brigade in the center, and Young’s brigade on the right. Rosser formed a second line to support the first, all being dismounted. Some regiments were kept mounted in case cavalry should be needed. The line being formed, the commanding officers were directed to keep the left flank on the railroad, advancing slowly, while the right swung round to strike the rear of the enemy, who were in position behind the railroad bank, and in a work which ran east perpendicularly to the railroad for some distance; then turning north kept parallel with the railroad, enveloping Oak Grove Church. The ground over which my troops advanced was very difficult, and it had been rendered more so by the enemy, who had cut down the timber. In spite of this, and under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry, the line advanced steadily, driving the enemy into his works. Here he made a stubborn stand, and for a few moments checked our advance, but the spirit of the men was so fine that they charged the breast-works with the utmost gallantry, car-

ried them, and captured the force holding them. This envied the fighting of the day, my men having been engaged for twelve fours. After the fight General Hill directed me to put my command in the trenches to cover the withdrawal of the infantry. This was done, and I remained with seven regiments at the station until 6.30 the next morning, when, finding that the enemy had withdrawn, I left General Butler to remove our wounded and to collect arms.

A return of captured property brought from the field is inclosed.* We captured 781 prisoners, including 25 commissioned officers, and brought off 66 wounded. One hundred and forty-three of the enemy were buried by my men. My own loss was: In Butler’s division – killed, 6; wounded, 25; missing, 2. Barringer’s division – killed, 10; wounded, 50; missing, 1. Total killed, 16; wounded, 75; missing, 3. Amongst the trophies of the fight were 3 stand of colors captured by Chambliss’ brigade.

I cannot close my report without expressing my high appreciation of the conduct of my command. Officers and men alike discharged their duties to my entire satisfaction. General Butler handled his division skillfully, and he was ably supported by General Rosser and Colonel Wright. The former, though not recovered from his late wound, went through the entire fight, showing the ability and gallantry which have always characterized his conduct. General Barringer commanded Lee’s division to my satisfaction, whilst his brigade commanders, Colonel Davis and Colonel Cheek, performed their parts well. Chambliss’ brigade was in advance when we met the enemy, and it was engaged all day, displaying through the whole fight marked gallantry.

My staff rendered me great assistance, I beg to express my obligations to them.

The reports of division commanders will be sent to the general commanding as soon as they are received.

Accompanying this is a return of property* brought from the field, and a report* of Federal surgeons as to their dead and wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant-Colonel TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
September 27, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops under my command during the late expedition to the rear of the enemy:

On the morning of the 14th instant I moved with the division of Major General William H. F. Lee, the brigades of Rosser and Dearing, and a detachment of 100 men from Young’s and Dunovant’s brigades, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, Sixth South Carolina Regiment, down the west side of Rowanty Creek to Wilkinson’s Bridge, on that stream, where the command bivouacked that night. The object of the expedition was to attempt the capture of a large herd of cattle, which was reported to be grazing near Coggins’ Point, on the James River. In order to accomplish this it was necessary to pass to the reat of the

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enemy and to force his lines at some point. I selected Sycamore Church, in Prince George County, as the point to attack, as being the most central, the nearest to the cattle, and the one where the largest force of the enemy was camped. By dispersing them here I made it impossible for them to concentrate any force in time of interfere with the main object of the expedition. The command left Wilkinson’s Bridge at an early hour on the 15th, and by a rapid march placed itself on the Blackwater at Cook’s Bridge. This bridge had been destroyed, as I was aware, and I chose that route on that account, as the enemy would not look for an approach from that quarter. The command was halted here to rest and feed, whilst the engineer party constructed a new bridge. This was accomplished before night, and a part of the command crossed the Blackwater. All my dispositions for the attack having been made and communicated to the commanding officers the command moved at 12 a. m. General Lee was directed to move by the Lawyer’s road to the stage road, at which point he would encounter the first pickets of the enemy. These he was to drive in, and to move, then, to occupy the roads leading from the direction of the enemy to Sycamore Church. General Dearing was instructed to proceed by the Hines road to Cocke’s Mill, where he was to halt until the attack on the center was made, when he was to dash across to the Minger’s Ferry road, attacking the post on that road and cutting off all retreat, guarding at the same time against an attack from Fort Powhatan. With Rosser’s brigade and the detachment under Colonel Miller, I moved on by-roads direct toward Sycamore Church. General Rosser was charges weigh the duty of carrying the position of the enemy here, and he was directed after accomplishing this to push forward at once to secure the cattle. The three columns all reached the points to which they were ordered without giving the alarm to the enemy, and at 5 a. m. on the 16th Rosser made the attack. The enemy had a strong position, and the approaches to it being barricaded he had time to rally in the roads around his camp, where for some time he fought as stubbornly as I have ever seen him do. But the determination and gallantry of Rosser’s men proved too much for him and he was completely routed, leaving his dead and wounded on the field and his camp in our hands. I beg to refer to the report of Brigadier-General Rosser for the particulars of the affair here and of the subsequent capture of the cattle. As soon as the attack was made at the church, General Lee, on the left, and General Dearing, on the right, attacked the enemy most successfully, and established themselves rapidly and firmly at the points they were ordered to secure. The reports* of these officers are inclosed for the information of the general commanding. The object of the expedition having been attained by the capture of the whole herd of cattle (2,486, by official return of the officer charged with the care of them), I withdrew everything before 8 a. m. The different columns were until before reaching the Blackwater, and all dispositions made to protect our captured property. Rosser was sent forward to hold the plank road, followed by General Dearing and Colonel Miller, whilst General Lee brought up the rear. After seeing everything across the Blackwater I moved toward the plank road, but before reaching it was notified by General Rosser of the approach of a heavy force of the enemy down that road. I ordered him to take position at Ebenezer Church, to hold the road there, and at once sent the cattle by Hawkinsville, crossing the plank road two

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miles in rear of my line of battle. Major Venable, of my staff, was ordered to superintend this movement of the cattle, and, with Major Ryals, provost-marshal, who had been very efficient in conducting it up to this time, to place quickly across the Nottoway River at Freeman’s Ford. These officers discharged this duty admirably, and the successful manner in which the cattle were brought off is due very much to their zeal and enterprise. The enemy had in the meantime attacked Rosser, who held his ground steadily. I sent Miller to him, and soon afterward Dearing. This force held the position so easily that I determined to pass to the rear of the enemy with General Lee’s division, in order to attack him there. Before proper dispositions to do this could be made, however, it became too dark to make the movement advantageously, and I directed General Lee to re-enforce Rosser and to protect our right. These orders were promptly carried out in the midst of an attack from the enemy, who were repulsed along the whole line. Several assaults were made on me, but always with a like result. Major Chew placed his artillery in position, and after a heavy fire of an hour completely silenced the guns of the enemy. Hearing that the cattle were all safely across the Nottoway, and fearing that the enemy might throw a force round my left so as to interpose between the cattle and my command, I determined not to follow the enemy, who were falling back, but to move to Wilkinson’s Bridge, where I could check any flank movement. Leaving four squadrons on picket at the church, I moved the command to their former bivouac, on the Rowanty, halting for the night. I intended to attack the enemy in the morning if he could be found, but he had retreated during the night.

The next day the command returned to their old quarters after an absence of three days, during which they had marched upward of 100 miles, defeating the enemy in two fights, and bringing from his lines in safety a large amount of captured property, together with 304 prisoners.

Of the 2,486 cattle captured 2,468 have been brought in, and I hope [to] get the few remaining ones. Three guidons were taken and eleven wagons brought in safely, several others having been destroyed. Three camps of the enemy were burned, after securing from them some very valuable stores, including quite a number of blankets. My loss was 10 killed, 47 wounded, and 4 missing.

I beg to express my entire satisfaction at the conduct of officers and men. Major-General Lee and Brigadier-General Dearing carried out my orders and wishes most skillfully, protecting the flanks and covering the main attack, thus contributing greatly to the successful issue of the expedition. General Rosser, in the center, displayed his usual skill and gallantry, carrying out my plans there with entire success. In the fight on the plank road the conduct of these officers was equally satisfactory, and I beg to acknowledge my obligations to them. Besides the officers of my staff mentioned above I am indebted to Major Barker for valuable assistance on the field, and also to Captain Lowndes and Lieutenant Hampton. Captain Edelin, who volunteered for the occasion, aided me by acting on my staff, and Captain Henry, assistant quartermaster, was most efficient in assisting in bringing off the captured property. Captain Belcher, who lives on the plank road, volunteered as a guide, and was of great service to me.

I cannot close my report without notice of the conduct of the scouts who were with me. Sergeant Shadburne, of the Jeff. Davis Legion, who gave me the information about the cattle, acted as guide to General Rosser, accompanied the leading regiment in its charge, kept his party always in the front, and acted with conspicuous gallantry. Sergeant

Hogan, in charge of Butler’s scouts, also displayed great activity, intelligence, and boldness. Ot the scouts Sergeant McCalla, First South Carolina Regiment, a most valuable man, was killed and three others were wounded.

Referring the general commanding to the inclosed reports for the detailed accounts of the part taken by the different brigades, and asking his attention to the return of captured property,

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General.

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
November 21, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to transmit the reports* of Major General W. H. F. Lee and Brigadier-General Butler in reference to the operations of their commands from the 29th of September to the 28th of October. The information contained in these reports and in the accompanying ones from subordinate officers is so full that it is only necessary for me to state the orders under which their movements were performed, and to express my satisfaction at the manner in which they were executed.

On the morning of the 29th of September the enemy made an attack on the lines of Brigadier-General Butler on the Vaughan road, driving in his pickets and following them to Hatcher’s Run. Here Major Fairly, with his dismounted men, met him and drove him back. The attack appearing to be a serious one, I directed Major General William Lee to bring one of his brigades up the Voughan road. His division, under orders from the general commanding, was then moving to the north side of the James River, and one brigade was ordered to move up the plank road to the vicinity of Petersburg to halt there. The enemy had fallen back to McDowell’s farm, when General Lee brought up Barringer’s brigade and at once ordered an attack. This was made promptly and most successfully. The enemy was driven to Wyatt’s farm, leaving in our hands quite a number of prisoners. The troops behaved as well as possible and they were well led by their officers. The picket-line was re-established. Butler returned to his camp and Lee, with Barringer’s brigade, joined Chambliss’ brigade on the plank road.

The next morning I rode up to look after the lines held by Dearing’s brigade, which was in the trenches, under command of Colonel Griffin, General Dearing being quite unwell. Soon after arriving at the headquarters of General Dearing information was brought to me that his brigade had been driven from the works, which were then in the possession of the enemy. A full report of this affair has already been forwarded to the general commanding and an investigation into it by a court of inquiry is now progressing. Upon consultation with General Heth, it was determined to attack the enemy, he to strike them in front and I to move on their left flank. I moved Lee’s division down the Harman [Vaughan?] road and occupied some works which were found there. In the meantime the infantry had become engaged, and as the enemy moved up to

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re-enforce he exposed his flank to me. I at once ordered General Lee to attack, which he did with the Ninth and Tenth Virginia Regiments in the handsomest style, leading his men in person. These regiments went in in line of battle, dismounted, and reserved their fire until very near the enemy. Delivering it regularly, they charged, routing the enemy completely, capturing about 900 prisoners and 10 standards. McGregor kept his guns on the line of battle, charging with the troops, and keeping up a steady and accurate fire. The whole affair was one of the hand-sorest I have seen, and it reflects the highest credit on the troops engaged in it. To show the effect of this flank attack I may mention that The Army and Navy Gazette, a paper of the enemy, in reviewing the operations of their army, attributed the failure of their whole movement on this side of the James River to the fact that a flanking column was thrown between two of their divisions and swept off many men. We captured here and in the attack the night previous nearly 1,000 prisoners, including a very large number of commissioned officers. Expecting that we would make an attempt the next morning to recapture the lines we had lost, I placed my command, or rather Lee’s division and Dearing’s brigade, near Fort MacRae, in the works. Whilst resting here Butler was attacked on the Vaughan road. Taking two of General Lee’s regiments (the Ninth and Thirteenth Virginia) I crossed the country, struck the Squirrel Level road, and charged the enemy in rear. They fell back on the Vaughan road and took a very strong position near McDowell’s house. I determined to attack them here and sent to General Lee to bring up two more regiments. Before these were put in the enemy was driven from our lines of works and my men had got within a few yards of their main line. Here it was that General Dunovant was killed, at the head of his brigade, whilst gallantly leading them, and Doctor Fontaine, my medical director, who went to his assistance, was mortally wounded. Each of these officers, in his own sphere, was an admirable one; both were zealous in the performance of their duties and both were a loss to the service and to the country. Just as we were about to charge the breast-works it was reported that the enemy had gained my rear. This involved new dispositions to meet the expected attack and before it was ascertained that the report was groundless it was too late in the day to carry out my original plan of attack. The command was withdrawn at dusk, after having driven the enemy some distance and capturing 30 or 40 prisoners. This closed the active operations of my command for the present, and the troops resumed their former camps.

It gives me great pleasure to state that officers and men behaved as well as I could wish. I am under special obligations to Major-General Lee and Brigadier-General Butler, both of whom rendered me great assistance and behaved most gallantly.

Inclosed is a list of my casualties and a return of prisoners and captured property.*

Referring to the reports* subjoined for details, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General.

Lieutenant-Colonel TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
November 21, 1864.

COLONEL: I beg to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the action at Burgess’ Mill on the 27th ultimo:

Early in the morning of that day the pickets on my whole line from the extreme left to Monk’s Neck bridge road were driven in, and the enemy advanced rapidly in heavy force of infantry and cavalry, the former crossing Hatcher’s Run at Armstrong’s Mill and the Voughan road, while the latter crossed at Monk’s Neck bridge. Butler was ordered to re-enforce his pickets, and in doing this he soon became heavily engaged with the enemy, who were advancing from the Vaughan road across to the plank and Quaker roads. Finding that the enemy was also advancing up the Quaker road from the Voughan road, I took position at the Quaker Meeting-House and there checked his advance. In the meantime Major General William Lee was ordered to move up the military road, so as to strike the enemy in rear. I had previously ordered Dearing to bring his brigade from the trenches on the north side of Hatcher’s Run, and to take position on the plank road near Bevill’s house to protect my rear and guard the roads leading from Armstrong’s Mill to the plank road. General Hill thought that Dearing could not be withdrawn from the position he held, and notice of this was sent to me by Major Venable, of my staff, who had borne the order to Dearing from me. He was captured on his return, and I was thus left in ignorance that a very important position was open. The enemy advanced in the very direction that was unguarded, and the first intimation I had of this fact was his presence on the plank road in my rear while I was engaged on the Quaker road. This made it necessary for me to change my front so as to meet the enemy on the plank road and the White Oak road, both of which were by this time in his possession. Throwing a few skirmishers on the column advancing up the plank road, and opening on them with one gun, I ordered Butler to withdraw his command promptly from the Quaker Meeting-House and to take position near Wilson’s house on the plank road. This movement was successfully executed in the face of the enemy, who were repulsed as they attempted to interfere with it. Lee was directed to move quickly across to the plank road and to attack there. Moving Butler to Wilson’s I left a small force there to attract the attention of the enemy, and I passed rapidly over to the White Oak road. The skirmish line of the enemy was advancing up this road when we reached it, but it was quickly driven back. I then formed line of battle across this road, my left resting on Burgess’ mill-pond, and repulsed an attack. Being soon after this informed that our infantry would attack the enemy, I prepared to join in this attack, and as soon as musketry told that our troops were engaged Butler was ordered to charge with his whole line, while Lee was directed to attack on the plank road. Butler’s men charged gallantly across an open field and drove the enemy rapidly toward the plank road.

In this charge, while leading the men and cheering them by his words and example, Lieutenant Thomas Preston Hampton, aide-de-camp, fell mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Wade Hampton, who was acting on my staff, received a severe wound. Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffords, a most excellent officer, was killed at the head of his regiment, the Fifth South Carolina, and Major T. G. Barker, assistant adjutant-general of the division, who most gallantly took his place, was dangerously wounded. I beg to express my admiration of the conduct of Major Barker, who

on this occasion, as on all other fields from Manassas to this one, displayed ability and gallantry, and I hope he may receive the promotion he deserves.

While Butler was attacking on the White Oak road, Lee struck the enemy on the plank road and drove him handsomely. I passed to his line of battle and formed a junction between Butler and himself, thus enveloping the enemy on three sides. We had driven him in on all the roads, and he was massed in the field around the houses of Bond and Burgess. The night having grown very dark and a heavy rain coming on I was forced to pause in my attack, but I ordered the line held all night, so that we might attack at daylight the next morning.

The plan of attack had been agreed on between General Heth and myself, but at 3.30 a. m. he informed me that he would not be able to get the troops he expected to operate with. This changed the plan, and in the morning the enemy was found to have retired from the field, leaving his dead and many wounded in my hands. I at once followed him, Dearing’s brigade being in advance, and struck his rear guard between Dabney’s and Armstrong’s Mills. Dearing charged and drove him across the creek. He formed near Armstrong’s house and was again charged and driven, when he fell back behind his infantry lines. I then withdrew my command and the troops returned to camp.

The enemy left in his retreat several caissons, three ambulances, burned, many small-arms and accouterments. We captured 239 prisoners, besides the wounded, of whom there were a large number.

My command behaved well, and I have again to express my pride in their good conduct. The accompanying reports* will show the parts taken by the different brigades.

Major Chew here, as in all the previous fights of the command, behaved admirably, and handled his artillery to great advantage. I beg to recommend him for promotion, and that he may be assigned to the command of all the artillery of the Cavalry Corps.

Captain Hart, a brave and deserving officer, lost a leg while fighting his guns close up to the enemy.

The members of my staff rendered me great assistance during the engagement, and I take pleasure in expressing my obligation to them.

Inclosed you will find a list* of casualties and a return of captured property.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General.

Lieutenant Colonel W. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 21, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the recent movement of the enemy against the line of railroad between Stony Creek Depot and Belfield:

Hearing on the morning of the 7th of December that the enemy, in heavy force, was moving down the Jerusalem plank road, I came to Stony Creek Depot and ordered Butler to cross the Nottoway River that night. Lee, in the meantime, was directed to move his com-

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mand by the same route taken by Butler. Butler crossed the river at Gee’s Ford, and, moving up the Halifax road, met the enemy near Fields’ house at sunrise on the morning of the 8th. The enemy had struck the Halifax road at that time, and I found that they were marching on a road one mile and a half east of me. Finding that a strong column of infantry and cavalry were passing up this road, after feeling the enemy and developing his force and destination, I recrossed the Nottoway with the intention of moving rapidly by Wyatt’s Mill up to Belfield, thus placing myself in front of the enemy. At 1 p. m. I received a telegraphic dispatch from the general commanding, informing me that Lieutenant-General Hill was moving through Dinwiddie toward Belfield and directing me to communicate with him. At the same time two staff officers of General Hill joined me and informed me as to the movements of General Hill. By these officers I sent to him all the information in my possession as to the enemy, and I also wrote to him at 2.30 p. m., reiterating this information and urging him to march that night so as to be able to intercept the enemy. At Wyatt’s Mill, where I halted a few hours, I wrote again twice, telling him what my plans were, informing him where the enemy had encamped, and urging him to move his command that night.

At 2 a. m. on the 9th my command was in motion and the head of my column very near Belfield at daylight. I at once made dispositions to defend Hicksford and the railroad bridge over Meherrin, in conjunction with Colonel Garnett, who commanded the post at that point. The enemy moved on slowly and cautiously, and he did not make his appearance before Belfield until 3 p. m. The troops of Colonel Garnett, assisted by the batteries of Hart and McGregor, opened fire rapidly and with effect on him, driving him back promptly. The assault was a feeble one, and it was not renewed, though a sharp fire was kept up until after night. Upon consultation with Lieutenant-General Hill, who came to see me during that night, it was determined that I should endeavor to pass the left flank of the enemy and gain his rear, while General Hill would move to Jarratt’s Station and strike him there.

At daylight the next morning, after my movement had commenced, I found that the enemy were retreating. Sending this information to General Hill, I directed Major-General Lee to push after the enemy, to develop his movement. His rear guard was driven across Three Creek, which stream he was holding with a strong force of cavalry and artillery. I immediately passed down the creek, crossed it, and moved rapidly to get on the road which leads from Jarratt’s to Sussex Court-House. As soon as we struck this road we found the enemy on it in full retreat. General Lee charged with one regiment as soon as the road was reached, throwing a part of the regiment down and a part up the road. The cavalry of the enemy which was met was driven on rapidly, with loss and in confusion, and the infantry of the rear guard was gallantly charged. These latter made only a short stand and retreated, destroying a bridge behind them. The pursuit on our part continued during the remainder of the day, the enemy blockading the road, destroying the bridges, and only fighting at the obstructions he had placed in the road. At Morris’ Mill we drove him from the bridge, and pushing on soon met some cavalry, charging and dispersing them. The leading squadron of the Third North Carolin dashed into the main body of the enemy, who were found preparing to go into camp. Finding their whole force there, I withdrew to Morris’ Mill, two miles back, to bivouac. From this point I notified General Hill of the position of the enemy, telling

him that he had gone into camp, with every indication of remaining there all night. I also gave this information to Major-General Heth, who was not on the same road with General Hill.

Being informed that our infantry had given up the pursuit of the enemy, I sent one regiment at daylight the next morning to follow to the Nottoway River, while I endeavored with the rest of the command to get across to the Jerusalem plank road in time to intercept the retreating column there. I found this impracticable, so I withdrew my force to Stony Creek.

The accompanying reports* of Major-Generals Lee and Butler and Brigadier-General Dearing give full particulars of the part taken by their respective commands.

My losses were slight, while those of the enemy were considerable. We captured between 250 and 300 prisoners, together with a number of arms.

The officers and men behaved admirably. Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett, commanding reserves and defenses at Hicksford, made judicious dispositions and acted with gallantry.

I am, very respectfully, yours,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General.

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

ADDENDA.

GENERAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Numbers 11.
September 18, 1864.

The major-general commanding takes pride in communicating to his command the praise which their recent achievement has won from the commanding general, who, in acknowledging his report of the successful return of his command from the rear of the enemy’s army, says:

You will please convey to the officers and men of your command my thanks for the courage and energy with which they executed our orders, by which they have added another to the list of important services rendered by the cavalry during the present campaign.

To such praise the major-general commanding would only add the expression of his own appreciation of the gallantry of his officers and men, whose conduct in battle is all that he could desire, and inspires him with pride and perfect confidence in such a command.

By command of Major General Wade Hampton.

H. B. MCCLELLAN,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 29, 1864.

General R. E. LEE,
Commanding:

GENERAL: A paragraph in your official report leads me to suppose that you are under a misapprehension in reference to the movements

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* Not found.

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of the enemy on the 27th instant. Your report says that “the enemy crossed Rowanty Creek below Burgess’ Mill and forced back the cavalry in the afternoon.” To correct this misapprehension I will give a brief statement of what occurred in anticipation of my report. As you were made aware by my last letter, all my dismounted men had been removed from the works on Hatcher’s Run and placed in the trenches on the main line. At Armstrong’s Mill, on the Vaughan road, and an old mill below there was a picket force of thirty men at each post. The enemy attacked with infantry and artillery in heavy force on the Vaughan road, and the attacking column of two regiments was repulsed. A brigade was then thrown in and flanked the works – mere rifle-pits – when the pickets fell back. In the meantime the pickets at Monk’s Neck bridge having been driven in, the enemy crossed there. This force I engaged with Butler’s division and checked them at once on the Quaker road. General Lee was ordered to attack them in rear, and I have no doubt but that this combined attack would have defeated them entirely, but just before Lee got into position the enemy were found to be advancing rapidly from Armstrong’s Mill to the plank road in my rear. This movement I executed in person, and I discovered the enemy as he formed his line of battle at Bevill’s house, within 500 yards of the mouth of the Quaker road. I saw his cavalry cross the plank road into the White Oak road, and, fearing an advance on the South Side Railroad, I rapidly arranged to transfer Butler to the White Oak road. This I did safely in perfect order and without the loss of a man by capture, though the enemy was attacking heavily in front and closing on my rear. I reached the White Oak road in time to meet an advance up that road, and at once forming line across it repulsed the enemy, who had tried to dislodge me. When Butler was withdrawn from the Quaker road I ordered Lee to move promptly to the plank road and to attack them.

As soon as these dispositions had been made I advised General Heth to attack by throwing a force across the dam at my works, and he sent me word that he would do so. As soon as he began the attack I attacked with Butler and drove the enemy in our front. To this attack General Mahone informed me that he owed the preservation of his command, which was placed between two heavy fires of the enemy. Lee, in the meantime, had got into position on the plank road, and he attacked with great spirit, driving the enemy rapidly and handsomely to Bevill’s house. I connected Butler’s right with Lee’s left, and my line then enveloped the enemy from a point on the Quaker road to Burgess’ mill-pond. Supposing that the infantry was still in position I held this line all night, intending to renew the attack at daylight. It was not until 12.30 a. m. that I knew of the withdrawal of our infantry, and I then allowed a portion of my command to leave the line.

The attack on our front was made on the dismounted [men] and Dearing in the trenches, and was handsomely repulsed. The fighting of the cavalry, which continued from sunrise to long after dark, was admirable, and everywhere successful. We captured about 225 prisoners, and the enemy left his dead and wounded in our hands. Butler reports not more than twenty men missing, and Lee had none, I think. A full return of casualties shall be sent in as soon as possible.

This movement of the enemy has shown the importance of completing the defenses on Hatcher’s Run. Had my dismounted men all been in the works at Armstrong’s Mill and at the Vaughan road, with these

works completed, the enemy could not have crossed. They have shown us our weakest point, and I hope that we will take prompt measures to strengthen it.

Asking your indulgence for this letter, which has exceeded the limit I proposed for it,

I am, general, very respectfully, yours,

WADE HAMPTON,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 31, 1864.

Major General WADE HAMPTON,
Commanding Cavalry:

GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 29th instant recounting the movements of the enemy on the 27th. My report to the Secretary of War was formed from the telegraphic dispatch from General Hill. From the lines you quote I perceive there is an error in punctuation. The stop should have been after “cavalry.” I intended by the use of the latter word to designate only that portion as being driven back which was opposed to the advance of the enemy at the creek, but I did not wish to particularize, as I did not desire the enemy to know what force was on our extreme right. General Hill stated that Young’s and Dearing’s brigades were thus driven back. When he wrote I presume he was not informed of all that occurred in the field. In a letter to General Hill to-day I expressed my gratification at the conduct of the troops in general and of the cavalry in particular, desiring him to communicate my thanks to you and your command. I am much pleased to learn from your letter of their admirable behavior.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 942-954

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