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[26] heard, and of such volume as to make the impression that it was not a mere skirmish-line engagement. I started for the lines, and on reaching the vicinity of Battery Gregg met a few of my men coming to the rear. They reported that our lines had been broken. Portions of Thomas' and Lane's brigades were in and near Batteries Gregg and Whitworth. I learned that the lines had been pierced on Lane's front near Boisseau's house and at a point to his right. Most of the enemy had turned to their left, sweeping up every thing as far as Hatcher's run; part had filed to their right and had driven our thin line back; not, however, without suffering seriously. Gen. Wright, commanding the Sixth corps, informed me subsequently that he lost 1,200 men in getting over the line. The enemy had reached the plank road in small numbers. One of Lane's regiments was forced back to the Southside road. The enemy were seen along our captured lines and on the plank road. Lane's and Thomas' men were reformed — in all about 600-moved forward in good spirits, and recaptured the lines to the vicinity of Boisseau's house, together with the artillery in the different batteries along it. This was reported to Gen. Lee.

Col. Venable, aide-de-camp to Gen. Lee, soon joined me with a message that Harris' brigade would report in a few minutes; it numbers little over 500 muskets. Heavy masses of the enemy were soon seen moving toward from their entrenched lines in a direction that crossed ours near the Carnes' house. It was useless to attempt engaging them with the force I had; Harris was, therefore, ordered toward a little beyond the Bank's house, advanced skirmishers, but with orders not to become engaged with his line of battle. It was the purpose to delay the forward movement of the enemy as much as possible, in order that troops from the north side of the James river might arrive and fill the gap between the right of our main Petersburg lines and the Appomattox.1

1 The enemy had withdrawn from the north side of the James river all but. a small force on the 27th ult., but General Longstreet had not learned of it in time to render any assistance up to this date.

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