War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0628 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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and the train, to take a road to the westward leading to the old stage road to Petersburg and running close to the north side of the Sappony Creek. This movement began at 10 p.m., but the road was difficult to follow, having been but little traveled.

It was broad daylight on the morning of the 29th, before the troops confronting the rebel position could be withdrawn, and by that time the enemy, who had been busy all night in strengthening his line and in attacking ours, was ready to make an advance in force. Colonels McIntosh and Chapman exerted themselves to the utmost to hold the enemy in check, and the troops held on with great tenacity. The first line was withdrawn difficulty, but the second was taken in flank by the enemy and driven to the rear on the road to the Double Bridges. Some of the troops succeeded in joining the main column by the county road, but the main body, under the guidance of Colonel Chapman, were compelled to move through the woods and did not join till later the day. These operations will be understood by reference to the following sketch.* By 7 a.m. of the 29th General Kautz's advance reached Reams' Station and drove in the enemy's infantry pickets, unexpectedly found there, and was in turn driven back and thrown into some confusion. Rallying his line and re-enforcing it, a new advance was made, driving the enemy back and capturing between 50 and 60 prisoners from Finegan's brigade, of Mahone's division of infantry. Shortly after this I arrived with the balance of the force and found General Kautz's command in position on the road leading from the stage road to the station. The general informed me of the situation of his command and gave me some information in regard to the enemy's movements. McIntosh was ordered to advance his command along the road toward Petersburg and prepare for an attempt to break through the enemy's line between Reams' and the Six-Mile House. For the first time I then learned that, contrary to my expectations, no part of the Weldon railroad was in possession of the infantry investing Petersburg, and that instead of my command being in the immediate vicinity of our lines the enemy held the road and interposed a strong force to prevent our junction. From information obtained from negroes and others I was led to believe that the enemy had most of his force in my front in the neighborhood of the station, and that the interval between there and the Six-Mile House was almost unguarded. Presuming this to be reliable I determined to mass my whole force, with ambulances and wagons in rear, and make a vigorous attempt to break through. I had ordered the dispositions of the troops accordingly, when a large force of infantry in line of battle, covered by a heavy skirmish line, was reported advancing down the main road from Petersburg with a heavy line of skirmishers deployed across the fields through which I proposed passing. Colonel McIntosh, my staff officers, and I, reconnoitered the road and found not less than a brigade of infantry, with guns in position. To render our position more perilous, my scouts soon reported the movement of troops toward our extreme left flank. In the mean time, anticipating difficulty of a serious nature, I endeavored to open communication with the infantry in front of Petersburg, and finally detached Captain E. W. Whitaker, First Connecticut Cavalry, of my staff, with about forty men of the veteran Third New York Cavalry. I have since learned he succeeded in reaching army headquarters about 10 a.m. On his way he gallantly rode through the enemy's cavalry and infantry columns in motion, escaping with twenty men. Seeing no possible chance of getting through to our lines by this route or of receiving succor in time to


*See p.632.