Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
HAMPTON’S DASH UPON THE ENEMY NEAR PETERSBURG.
We have some particulars of Hampton’s brilliant dash upon the enemy, in which he captured twenty-five hundred head of cattle, three hundred prisoners, many arms and wagons, &c.
At any early hour Wednesday morning [September 14, 1864] General Hampton, with W. H. F. Lee’s division, (Barringer’s and Chambliss’ brigades) and Rosser’s and Dearing’s brigades of cavalry, and Graham’s and McGregor’s batteries of artillery, struck tents and started on his expedition. On reaching Sycamore church at 11 o’clock Thursday night [September 15, 1864], where the enemy’s forces were known to be encamped, a halt was made and preparations made for the attack at daylight—a rest of some two hours being allowed the men and animals.
All necessary disposition of the troops having been made, General Rosser assaulted the left and General Dearing the right, simultaneously, and with like result [at dawn on September 16, 1864.]. The attack was a surprise to the enemy, and their position was carried with a rush. The charge of our men at both points is represented to have been faultless. On the enemy’s right [sic, the Confederate right, the enemy’s left, at Cocke’s Mill] Dearing’s men swept like an avalanche over their works, meeting with a rapid but irregular and momentary fire of musketry, which only served to increase their ardour and enthusiasm. So sudden and rapid was the assault that the Yankees rushed from their tents EN DISHABILLE, and were enabled to make comparatively but a feeble resistance. General Dearing took thirty-five prisoners, five or six teams, and the enemy’s camp. Demoralized and panick stricken, the balance of the enemy fled in great disorder to Sycamore church, where, finding General Rosser in possession of their works, they immediately surrendered.
On their left [sic, the Confederate center, the enemy’s right], at Sycamore church, the enemy was much more strongly fortified. He held position on a hill with formidable barricades in his front. General Rosser demanded a surrender, but the Yankee commandant, seemingly conscious of his ability to hold his position, returned a positive refusal, with the additional remark that he intended to fight to the last. General Rosser determined to give him a chance, and ordered his men to charge. They obeyed the command with great cheerfulness and gallantry. They reached the barricades, pulled them to pieces, leaped over and through them and reached the enemy’s work in the face of a heavy fire, which fortunately did little execution. As soon as General Rosser reached their position, the Yankees scattered in all directions and fled from the place in the most precipitate manner. It was here that the men who fled before General Dearing, were made to surrender. General Rosser took about two hundred and fifty prisoners and several valuable teams in addition to the enemy’s camp. The camps were prolifick of delicacies and provisions. Oranges, lemons, cigars, crackers and good things and useful, were found in great profusion, and not a few of them were secured.
CAPTURE OF THE CATTLE.
The enemy having been completely routed and demoralized it was determined to push ahead at once after the cattle. Before General Rosser moved off a note, captured in Major Baker’s tent, was brought to him, which read substantially as follows:
I have the honour to report the arrival of 2,486 head of cattle here. I have this day moved them from Coggin’s Point, as the grazing in this vicinity is the finest in the country. I only fear it will not hold out long enough. The cattle are in splendid order. J. S. BAKER,
Commanding First D. C. cavalry.
There was no difficulty in securing the cattle.
A DASH AT SPEAR’S MEN.
While General Rosser and Dearing were fighting the enemy, a detachment of General Lee’s command dashed into an encampment of Spear’s troops, capturing some prisoners and horses, and putting the balance to fight. Spear’s headquarters were at Mount Sinai church, and had time permitted, he would also have been routed or captured.
The object of the expedition being accomplished, our forces started on their return home.—Generals Rosser and Dearing were in the advance of the captures, and General Lee brought up the rear.
General Gregg was drawn up in battle array immediately across Hampton’s road, and it was found necessary to give him battle [at Ebenezer Church]. Rosser and Dearing were ordered to attack at once, which they did in the most determined style, forcing the Yankees back in the direction of Petersburg, one mile and a half.1
- “Hampton’s Dash Upon the Enemy.” Richmond Examiner. September 20, 1864, p. 2 col. 5-6 ↩