Savannah, Ga., to hold Shermans' new acquisitions on the sea-coasts, and thus enable him to move without detaching from his force for that purpose.*
Reports from various sources led me to believe that the enemy had detached three divisions from Petersburg to re-enforce Early in the Shenandoah Valley, I therefore sent the Second Corps and Gregg's division of cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, and a force of General Butler's army, on the night of the 13th of August, to threaten Richmond from the north side of the James, to prevent him from sending troops away, and, if possible, to draw back this sent. In this move we captured six pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners, detained troops that were under marching orders, and ascertained that but one division (Kershaw's) of the three reputed detached had gone. The enemy having withdrawn heavily from Petersburg to resist this movement, the Fifth Corps, General Warren commanding, was moved out on the 18th and took possession of the Wilton railroad. During the day he had considerable fighting. To regain possession of the road the enemy made repeated and desperate assault, but was each time repulsed with greet loss. On the night of the 20th the troops on the north side of the James were withdrawn, and Hancock and Gregg returned to the front of Petersburg. On the 25th the Second Corps and Gregg's division of cavalry, while at Reams' Station destroying the railroad, were attacked, and after desperate fighting a part of our line gave way and five pieces of artillery fell into the hands of the enemy. By the 12th of September a branch railroad was completed from the City Point and Petersburg Railroad t the Wilton railroad, enabling us to supply without difficulty, in all weather, the army on front of Petersburg. The extension of our lines across the Wilton railroad compelled the enemy to so extend his that it seemed he could have but few troops north of the James for the defense of Richmond. On the night of the 28th the Tenth Corps, Major-General Birney, and the Eighteenth Corps, Major-General Ord commanding, of General Butler's army, were crossed to the north side of the James, and advanced on the morning of the 29th, carrying the very strong fortifications and entrenchments below Chaffin's Farm, known as Fort Harrison, capturing fifteen pieces of artillery and the New Market road and entrenchments. This success was followed up by a gallant assault upon Fort Gilmer, immediately in front of the Chaffin's Farm fortifications, in which we were repulsed with heavy loss. Kautz's cavalry was pushed forward on the road to the right of this, supported by infantry, and reached the enemy's inner line, but was unable to get farther. The position captured from the enemy was so threatening to Richmond that I determined to hold it. The enemy made several desperate attempts to dislodge us, al of which were unsuccessful, and for which he paid dearly. On the morning of the 30th General Meade sent our a reconnaissance, with a view to attacking the enemy's line if it was found sufficiently weakened by withdrawal of troops moving to get to the left of the point gained were attacked by the enemy in heavy force and compelled to fall back until supported by the forces holding the captured works. Our cavalry, under Gregg, was also attacked, but repulsed the enemy with great loss. On the 7th of October the enemy attacked Kautz's cavalry north
*Fort subordinate reports of operations in the Shenandoah Valley from August 4 to December 31, 1864, see Vol. XLIII, Part I.