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[609] pointed to a design to abandon the line before Petersburg, and take possession of the Southside railroad.

The movement occupied three corps of the enemy, and commenced at daylight of the 27th October. The right of the Confederate entrenched line rested on the east bank of Hatcher's Run; and it was hoped to turn this, and then march upon and lay hold of the Southside railroad, which was Lee's principal communication. As the advance of the enemy moved forward to the Boydton plank road, the Confederate pickets and skirmishers were encountered, and a lively fire of musketry was kept up all the morning. When the Boydton road was reached the Confederates were found strongly entrenched at every point. It was thought that by making a wide detour these intrenchments could be taken in flank and the Confederates forced back to Petersburg; but when Hancock's corps reached a point below where the Confederate works were supposed to terminate, they were found to extend a considerable distance in the direction of Stony Creek, and their appearance was so formidable that it was deemed imprudent to attempt to carry them.

During Hancock's march towards what was supposed to be the extreme right of the Confederate line, a gap occurred between his right and the left of the Fifth corps. The Confederates were not slow to perceive the advantage. Gen. Heth had crossed Hatcher's Run to attack the enemy, and Mahone's division quickly assailed Hancock's right in its exposed situation, driving back Gibbon's division more than a mile, and inflicting upon it considerable loss. Meanwhile Hampton's cavalry fell upon the rear of Hancock, and increased the disorder. Mahone captured four hundred prisoners, three stand of colours, and six pieces of artillery. A subsequent effort of the enemy to recover his position was bravely resisted; Gen. Mahone broke three lines of battle; and night found him standing firmly on the Boydton road, and successfully resisting all efforts to drive him from it.

Finding the Confederates strongly fortified along the Boydton road, and also on both sides of Hatcher's Run, and seeing the hopelessness of attempting to break through works fully as formidable as those before Petersburg, Grant issued orders for the troops to withdraw to their original position,--that is, the entrenchments in front of Petersburg-and during the night they retraced their steps, and were settled back in their old camps. The design to turn the Confederate position and take possession of the Southside railroad, had been completely frustrated; and thus failed, almost shamefully, Grant's ambitious movement of October, 1864.

While thus the Confederate lines around Richmond and Petersburg stood successful and defiant, the shadow of a great misfortune fell on another part of the country. In the last months of 1864, public attention was drawn unanimously and almost exclusively after the march of Sherman

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