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 The forces of the enemy finally succeeded in making their way back, with a loss of about four thousand prisoners, and General Lee, whose casualties were small, reestablished his line without interruption. This affair was subsequently investigated by a committee of the Congress of the United States, and their report declared that ‘the first and great cause of the disaster was the employment of white instead of black troops to make the charge.’ Attacks continued to be made on our lines during the months of August and September, but, as in former instances, they were promptly repulsed. On August 18th the enemy seized on a portion of the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, and on the 25th this success was followed up by an attempt, under General Hancock, to take possession of Reams's Station on the same road, farther south. He was defeated by Heth's division and a portion of Wilcox's, under the direction of General A. P. Hill, and, having lost heavily, was compelled to retreat. These events did not, however, materially affect the general result. The enemy's left gradually reached farther and farther westward, until it had passed the Vaughan, Squirrel Level, and other roads running southwestward from Petersburg, and in October was established on the left bank of Hatcher's Run. The movement was designed to reach the Southside Railroad. A heavy column crossed Hatcher's Run and made an obstinate attack on our lines, in order to break through to the railroad. This column was met in front and flank by Generals Hampton and W. H. F. Lee, with dismounted sharpshooters. Infantry was hastened forward by General Lee, and the enemy was driven back. This closed for the winter active operations against our lines at Petersburg. When the campaign opened on the Rapidan, General Lee's effective strength was in round numbers sixty thousand of all arms; that of General Grant at the same time one hundred forty thousand. In the many battles fought before the close of the campaign, Grant's loss had been a multiple of that sustained by Lee; the large reenforcements he had received, however, both before and after he crossed the James River, repaired his losses, and must have increased the numerical disparity between the two armies; yet, notwithstanding the great superiority in the number of his force, the long-projected movement for the reduction of Fort Fisher and the capture of Wilmington was delayed because of Grant's unwillingness to detach any of his troops for that purpose until after active operations had been suspended before Petersburg. It was proposed to make a combined land and naval attack—Major General B. F. Butler to command the land forces, and Admiral D. D.
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