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[544] divisions up on their center, and driving them with disorder and with heavy loss. Several entire regiments, a battery, and many standards were captured when Hill, having checked the advance which was directed against the Weldon Railroad, withdrew with his captures to his former position, bringing with him the guns and nearly three thousand prisoners.

On the same night a cavalry expedition, consisting of the divisions of Generals Wilson and Kautz, and numbering about six thousand men, was sent west to cut the Weldon, Southside, and Danville railroads, which connected our army with the south and west. This raid resulted in important injury to our communications. The enemy's cavalry tore up large distances of the tracks of all three of the railroads, burning the woodwork and laying waste the country around. But they were pursued and harassed by a small body of cavalry under General W. H. F. Lee, and on their return near Reams's Station were met, near Sapponey Church, by a force of fifteen hundred cavalry under General Hampton. That officer at once attacked. The fighting continued fiercely throughout the night, and at dawn the enemy's cavalry retreated in confusion. Near Reams's Station, at which point they attempted to cross the Weldon Railroad, they were met by General Fitzhugh Lee's horsemen and a body of infantry under General Mahone, and this force completed their discomfiture. After a brief attempt to force their way, they broke in disorder, leaving behind them twelve pieces of artillery, more than a thousand prisoners, and many wagons and ambulances. The railroads were soon repaired, and the enemy's cavalry was for the time rendered unfit for service.

Every attempt made to force General Lee's lines having proved unsuccessful, General Grant determined upon the method of slow approaches, and proceeded to confront the city with a line of earthworks. By gradually extending the line to his left, he hoped to reach out toward the Weldon and Southside Railroads. To obtain possession of these roads now became the special object with him, and all his movements had regard to that end. Petersburg is twenty-two miles south of Richmand, and is connected with the south and west by the Weldon and Southside railroads, the latter of which crosses the Danville Railroad, the main line of communication between Richmond and the Gulf states. With the enemy once holding these roads and those north of the city, Richmond would be isolated, and it would have been necessary for the Confederate army to evacuate eastern Virginia.

It will be seen from what has been written that, though the operations

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