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[258] various railroads by which supplies were brought to our army. Wilson and Kautz, acting separately, succeeded in tearing up and otherwise damaging many miles of very important roads, including the Weldon, at Reams's Station, the Southside and the Danville roads. The raiding columns then formed a junction at Meherrin Station, but, upon reaching the Roanoke bridge, were checked in their further advance by a force of Confederates. The return of Wilson's column became, at that time, a difficult problem. At the crossing of Stony Creek, on the 28th, a severe engagement took place, forcing Wilson to make a considerable detour to the left. His effort was to reach Reams's Station, which he believed to be still in possession of the Federals; but he was attacked by both cavalry and infantry, under General Hampton, and now fell back, ‘with the loss of his trains and artillery and a considerable number of prisoners.’1 Wilson barely succeeded in bringing his shattered forces within the Federal lines. These raids, though damaging and harassing to us, proved so unsatisfactory to the enemy that further efforts of the kind were finally abandoned.

During this period of relative inactivity Generals Lee and Beauregard had so completed their lines of defence that assault upon them ‘had been pronounced impracticable by the [Federal] chiefs of artillery and engineers.’2 Beginning south of the Appomattox, these lines encircled the city of Petersburg, east and south, and extended, in a westerly direction, towards and beyond the left flank of the Federal army. A similar system of defence extended north of the Appomattox, guarding Petersburg and the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, against the Federal forces under Butler, at Bermuda Hundreds. Notwithstanding the reports of the Chief of Artillery and the Chief-Engineer of the Federal army, the Confederate lines, running from the southwest of Petersburg to the north-east of Richmond, and extending over a length of fully thirty-five miles, were vulnerable at more than one point. It must not be forgotten that the Appomattox was fordable a little above the permanent bridge, and it is very doubtful whether we could have prevented a vigorous and well-directed

1 Swinton's ‘Army of the Potomac,’ p. 513. The statement is confirmed by General Meade's report.

2 Swinton's ‘Army of the Potomac,’ p. 515.

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