Numbers 81. Report of Major Newton Hall, Third New York Cavalry, of operations May 12-17.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD NEW YORK CAVALRY,
City Point, May 18, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements and operations of the Third Regiment Volunteer Cavalry, under my command, during the recent raid against the Danville, South Side, and Petersburg and Weldon Railroads.
The Cavalry Division of General Kautz, to which the regiment is attached, left camp near Bermuda Hundred on the forenoon of the 12th instant, and passing in rear of the advance of General Butler, crossed the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad at Chester Station, which had already been visited by our forces, and proceeding onward reached Chesterfield Court-House without serious molestation about 2 p. m. Here several prisoners, confined for refusing to serve in the ranks of the rebel army, were released, and some public stores destroyed, after which we pushed forward to Coalfield Station, on the Danville road, which we reached at midnight. The track was torn up for a considerable distance by the regiment, assisted by the First District of Columbia Cavalry. A train of cars, depot, and public stores to a great amount burned and a s great a destruction of all, but private property, made as possible, when we fell back about 4 miles and remained by the side of the road until morning. On the 13th we struck the road again at Powahatan and an Mattoax Bridge, destroying cars, depots, and a large quantity of rebel stores at the former place, besides tearing up the track to a considerable extend, On approaching the iron bridge across the Appomattox in the afternoon, we found it guarded by a strong force of infantry and artillery, and making a detour to the left reached the road bridge across the river about 5 p. m. and found that a part of this bridge had been destroyed. Immediate preparations were made for repairing it, and we crossed it in safety shortly after dark, and marching about 2 miles, bivouacked until dawn.
The next morning we marched forward to the station (Chula), where the advance had already taken a locomotive, with tender attached, and dismounting about 100 or 150 men of the regiment, armed mostly with carbines, of whom you, sir, took the command, an attempt was made to burn the bridge across Swift Creek, but, being opposed by a vastly superior force of the enemy, were unable to accomplish their purpose and were ordered to retire after a gallant and persistent struggle, in which the regiment lost nearly 30 killed, wounded, and missing. On the afternoon of this day the regiment assisted in breaking the South Side Railroad at Wellville and Blacks and Whites. At the latter place a large quantity of public stores were destroyed. On the 15th we passed through Jonesville and camped at Lawrencville or Brunswick Court-House. Learning that a very superior force of the enemy were collected to oppose us at Belfiedl we passed to the left, crossing the Weldon and Petersburg road at Jarratt's Station, when the track was again torn up, the water-tank destroyed, and near which a splendid pontoon train was burned. We reached Freeman's Bridge across the Nottoway shortly after midnight, and the advance, consisting of the First District of Columbia Cavalry, had a slight skirmish with a party of the enemy