work from daybreak in the heat of the sun, made more hot by the burning railroads and buildings, and were in no condition to overcome the natural defenses of the bridge, under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. But while General Kautz's men were doing their utmost to reach the bridge, the rebel cavalry unsuccessfully attacked Chapman's brigade, near the crossing of Little Roanoke. He had been directed to look out for the rear, in anticipation that they would endeavor to strike us while operating against the bridge. Having found, from careful inquiry, there were no means of crossing the river without allowing the rebels on the north side to cross by the railroad bridge, and thus unite all the forces in that section, and having convinced myself by personal inspection of the great difficulty and loss was should necessarily experience in again endeavoring to carry the brigade, I determined to withdraw to the eastward and march back to the James River. The objects of the expedition had in the main been accomplished. Every railroad station, depot, water-tank, wood pile, bridge, trestle-work,
tool-house, and saw-mill, from fifteen miles of Petersburg to the Roanoke River, had been burned. Most of the track of the South Side road north of Burkeville and all of the Danville road from the Junction to the Roanoke bridge were destroyed. The temporary interposition of Lee's division of cavalry between different parts of our column prevented General Kautz from moving against the High Bridge near Farmville, on the upper Appomattox. The Danville road from Burkeville to the Roanoke having been constructed by laving flat iron rails upon tramway of pitch pine, was completely destroyed, with great ease, by piling fence-rails along both sides of the track and setting them on fire.
Having thus completed the work assigned me, under cover of the night I withdrew my command to Wylliesburg and halted about daylight, fed, and rested. The enemy no longer pressing upon us, the column returned to the northeast by easy marches; passing through Christianville and Greensborough, crossed the Meherrin at Saffold's Bridge, and thence through Smoky Ordinary and Poplar Hill, to the Nottoway at the Double Bridges on the direct road to Prince George Court-House. The whole command arrived at this place by the middle of the afternoon of June 28. From all the information I could gather I was led to believe that Hampton's cavalry had not yet made its appearance in that vicinity, and that the only force barring the march of my command was a battalion of infantry and a remnant of W. H. Lee's division of cavalry, stationed at Stony Creek Depot, in all not to exceed 1,000 men. The road to Prince George Court-House passed two miles and a half to the west of the depot, and a picket of fifty men was reported to be stationed at Sappony Church, where the main road crossed the road from the depot to Dinwiddie Court-House. I determined, therefore, to lose no time, but push on with rapidity to that place, drive the pickets back to the Stony Creek Depot, and under cover of darkness march the whole command as rapidly as possible toward Prince George Court-House. The advance guard, under the direction of Captain Whitaker, of my staff, found the picket posted as I expected at the church, and by a spirited dash drove it toward the depot. This success had scarcely been reported before the enemy received re-enforcements and in turn drove back the advance guard to the head of the column. Colonel McIntosh hastily dismounted his brigade and attacked the rebels with great spirit, driving them rapidly back to Sappony Church, where they had constructed a rail breast-works. A few prisoners were captured, from whom I learned that Hampton's and Fitzhugh Lee's divisions of cavalry had just arrived. Knowing from the character of