War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0168 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

Search Civil War Official Records

about half way to the latter place, the lieutenant-general commanding, by whom I was instructed to take command of the troops then in front of Petersburg, and, if practicable, push the enemy across the Appomattox. At the same time orders, were sent to Wright to move up his artillery and one division of his infantry to Petersburg, and to take the other two divisions by water to City Point. Proceeding on I reached Petersburg about 2 p.m., and after communicating with corps commanders orders were given for an assault by Hancock and Burnside at 6 p.m., Smith demonstrating, he having reported an assault not expedient on his front. The assault was made, as directed, by Hancock, and resulted in taking and holding part of the enemy's line. The fighting continued till late in the night, and at early dawn of the 17th of June a gallant assault was made by the Ninth Corps, capturing a redoubt, 4 guns, several colors, and many prisoners. During the night of the 16th Neill's division, Sixth Corps, arrived, relieving Brooks' division, of the Eighteenth, who,accompanied by Major-General Smith, returned to Bermuda Hundred, leaving General Martindale in command of Smith's troops. Warren, with the Fifth Corps, also came up during the night of the 16th, and was posted on the left of the Ninth Corps.

During all of the 17th the enemy was vigorously pressed, Martindale pushing him back on the right, and the whole line gradually advancing. An assault of the whole line was ordered for daylight on the 18th, but on advancing it was found the enemy during the night had retired to a line about a mile nearer the city, the one he how occupies. Orders were immediately given to follow and develop his position, and, so soon as dispositions could be made, to assault. About noon an unsuccessful assault was made by Gibbon's division, Second Corps. Martindale's advance was successful, occupying the enemy's skirmish line and making some prisoners. Major-General Birney, temporarily commanding Second Corps, then organized a formidable column and about 4 p.m. made an attack, but without success. Later in the day attacks were made by the Fifth and Ninth Corps, with no better results. Being satisfied Lee's army was before me, and nothing further to be gained by direct attacks, offensive operations ceased and the work of intrenching a line commenced, which line is part of that at present held. During these operations the supply trains were crossed at the bridge, covered by Wilson's division of cavalry and Ferrero's division of colored troops.

On the 18th of June news was received from Sheridan, who, on the 16th, was at Walkerton, on the Pamunkey. He reported having reached Trevilian Station, on the Central railroad, near Gordonsville, where he was attacked by Hampton's cavalry, whom he repulsed and drove off. Sheridan then commenced the destruction of the railroad, but was soon interrupted by the return of Hampton, re-enforced with infantry from Gordonsville. Sheridan was again successful in his encounter with these forces, but finding his ammunition being exhausted, the country destitute of supplies, and hearing nothing of General Hunter's movement, he deemed it prudent to abandon the further prosecution of the expedition and accordingly returned. Orders were sent to General Sheridan to proceed to the White House, resupply himself, and then escort to the James the garrison of that place. Sheridan reached the White House just as Hampton was about attacking it, compelling Hampton to retire. After breaking up the depot, Sheridan moved over to the James, sending Gregg's division to cover