Numbers 80. Report of Chaplain Lorenzo Barber, Second U. S. Sharpshooters, of operations December 7-12.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, Near Petersburg, Va., December 16, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Third Division of the Second Corps in the late movement on and destruction of a portion of the Weldon railroad:
The division marched at daylight on the morning of the 7th instant and joined the Fifth Corps outside the works, near the Gurley house. After a short halt the command proceeded to the Jerusalem plank road and marched rapidly south till it reached a cross-road at Hawkins' Tavern, about eighteenth miles from Petersburg, where it arrived about 4 p. m. Here it halted and made coffee, it being the first halt of more than a few minutes after leaving camp in the morning. As soon as the roads were cleared the march was resumed on this cross-road, going to the right of the plank road. About a mile from the plank road the Nottoway River was reached and crossed on a pontoon bridge, the common bridge having been destroyed. The division went into-camp for the night about half a mile from the crossing. Great caution was used to prevent a surprise, all the roads being well guarded. Though it rained in the early part of the day, and a severe storm seemed about to burst upon us, it cleared off before night and the rain proved a decided benefit to the movement, saving annoyance from dust, improving the roads, and preventing the enemy from learning our movements of strength. It is to be regretted that, considering the good roads and weather, there was an unpardonable amount of straggling from the division, though much less than from the Fifth Corps.
Thursday, the 8th, the command was ready to march at daylight, but being assigned to the rear of the column it was obliged to wait for the crossing of stragglers and cattle and the removal of the pontoon bridge. These accomplished, the march commenced about 9 a. m. Stragglers who were not across the river before this time were marched back to army headquarters under a cavalry guard. Sussex Court-House was passed during the a. m. and the division went into camp for the night near Jarratt's Station, on the Weldon railroad, before dark, while a part of the Fifth Corps proceeded at once to the work of destroying the road. The cavalry had passed down the track toward Belfield. Many fine residences were passed during the day, among them one belonging to the relatives of the rebel Brigadier-General Chambliss, who was killed at Deep Bottom in July [August] last. Most of the residents asked for a guard to protect their property, and their request was invariably granted by the general commanding. The weather during the day was warm and pleasant.
Friday, the 9th, the division marched at daylight to the railroad, past Jarratt's Station. The buildings were nearly all burned, during a cavalry raid, from Suffolk, in May last. Marching past that portion of the Fifth Corps already engaged in the destruction of the road, the division was drawn up in line, facing the road, and stacked arms on its bank. The rails were so bolted together at the ends as to make a continuous rail, rendering the destruction of the track very difficult. Each brigade, under the immediate supervision of the brigade commander, took hold of the rails and ties on one side, and the entire track-a whole brigade front at once-was turned up on the ends of the ties on the