attempt to replenish with Blacks the thinned ranks of their armies — hitherto largely swelled by appeals to the intense prejudice of the lowest Whites against “Nigger Equality” --was a most palpable and damaging confession that the knell of the Confederacy
A single expedition, under Warren
, was sent out1
's left to destroy the Weldon railroad farthe<*> southward, and thus prevent its use by the enemy in transporting supplies from North Carolina
nearly up to our lines; whence they were wagoned around our left to Lee
This expedition, consisting of Warren
's (5th) corps, Mott
's division of the 2d, and Gregg
's mounted division, moved down the railroad so far as the Meherrin
; across which to Hicksford the few Rebels encountered were driven, while the road was effectually destroyed down to that point — some 20 miles. Hicksford had been fortified, and was strongly held by the enemy; while our troops, having started with but four days rations, were constrained to hasten their return.
No considerable loss was suffered, nor (otherwise than in destroying the railroad) inflicted.
The withdrawal of most of our naval force from the James
, to participate in the operations against Wilmington
, tempted the authorities in Richmond
again to try their luck upon the water.
Their three ironclads — the Virginia
, and Richmond
— with five wooden steamers, and three torpedo-boats, dropped2
silently down from the city under cover of darkness, passing Fort Brady
at midnight, responding to its fire, and dismounting a 100-pounder in its battery; then passing out of its range, and breaking the chain in front of the obstructions placed in the channel by Gen. Butler
at the lower end of Dutch gap
, so that the Fredericksburg
passed through; while the Richmond, Virginia
, and Drewry
, attempting to follow, grounded: the last-named, being immovable, was abandoned by her crew at day-light, and soon blown up by a shell from one of our batteries; while the Virginia
received a 300-pound bolt from a monitor which killed 5 of her crew.
Firing was continued on both sides throughout the day; and at night the Rebel
fleet — all but the Drewry
— drew back to Richmond
The next effort on our side was made — probably with intent mainly to develop the strength with which the Rebel
lines confronting ours were still held — on the old beaten and bloody track ; the 5th and 2d corps, with Gregg
's cavalry, pushing out3
from our left to Reams's station, and thence to Dinwiddie C. H.: the 5th corps being directed to turn the Rebel
right, while the 2d assailed it in front.
The two corps having taken position on the Rebel
flank — Smythe
's division and McAllister
's brigade of Mott
's having gallantly repulsed the enemy's attempt to turn the right of the former — Gregg
's cavalry were drawn back from Dinwiddie C. H. to Warren
's left, which, under Crawford
, was now4
thrown forward to Dabney's mill, whence he drove a Rebel force under Gen. Pegram
, who was killed.
By this time, the enemy had sent a strong force around our left, to strike it in flank and rear, after the Stonewall Jackson