HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT, July 31, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: Four prisoners from General Hunter's command, all personally known to me, who made their escape on the 19th, make the following report: They had been confined in the Lynchburg prison for about a month, and on the 19th were put on the cars to be sent to Georgia. They came by rail to the junction of the South Side and Danville roads, where they changed cars, and after traveling about twenty miles on the Danville road they jumped from the cars and made their escape. They saw two regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery at the High Bridge. They were at work throwing up strong fortifications on this end of the bridge and were building one large redoubt. The west end of the bridge is fortified by breast-works. The railroad has been repaired at the junction by laying down rails that had been burnt and afterward straightened. The road was in running order from Lynchburg to Petersburg. About ten miles of the Danville road south of Meherrin Station (where they left the road) has not yet been repaired. The prisoners were to leave the cars there and march the distance, where they were to take another train. After leaving the Danville road they came in nearly a direct course to Blacks and Whites Station, on the South Side road. The Second Virginia Cavalry was stationed at that point. There is there a avery large shop for building and repairing Government wagons, also a corral of disabled horses. From that point they marched to Dinwiddie Court-House, thence toward Reams' Station on the road running from Dinwiddie Court-House to Reams' Station; where the road crosses Rowanty Creek they saw two camps. They were told by negroes that there were 5,000 men there-infantry, cavalry, and artillery. While lying in the woods there on the night of the 28th they heard tattoo sounded by five different bugles. These troops had been camped at that place since Wilson's raid. On the morning of the 29th they crossed the Weldon railroad three miles below Reams' Station. After crossing the railroad they secreted themselves in the bushes near the railroad, where they remained all day of the 29th. They saw one train of about ten cars pass going toward Petersburg loaded with troops. There were troop in the cars and on the top of them. The cars run very slowly, and do not blow a whistle when they stop or start. They crossed through Jones' Swamp yesterday morning, and when they heard the fighting in that vicinity they came into General Gregg's lines. One of these men, who was captured on the 3rd of June, while on his way to Georgia, made his escape on the 20th south of Staunton River, on the Danville road, and in attempting to join General Hunter near Lynchburg was again captured. He reports that the railroad bridge over the Staunton River is quite strongly fortified, there being a heavy work on the north side and rifle-pits on the south side of the bridge, with a battery of artillery to guard it. They bring lists of some officers and men confined in Lynchburg prison.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain and Assistant Provost-Marshal.