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[523]

Having drawn a portion of Lee's army north of the James, Grant, on the 18th, sent Warren, with the Fifth corps, to his left, to capture the Weldon railroad and attack Lee's right. Following the plank road southward to the Globe tavern, on the railroad south of Petersburg, Warren then turned northward, along the railway, toward Petersburg, until Heth's division of Hill's corps struck his exposed left flank and captured nearly a thousand of his men. The next day, A. P. Hill confronted Warren with two divisions, assailing his left with Heth's, while Mahone's fell on his right. Warren, after a loss of 2,900 men, threw up works and assumed the defensive. Hill attacked him again, on the 21st, but was repulsed with considerable loss.

During this affair between Hill and Warren, Grant withdrew Hancock and Gregg from the north side of the James, and, on the 21st, sent these to Reams' Station, south of Petersburg and beyond Warren's division, to tear up the track of the railway, in the meantime holding some old Confederate works at the station. To interfere with this destructive work, Lee sent A. P. Hill, with eight brigades of infantry, preceded by Hampton's division of cavalry. On the 24th these attacked Hancock. Pegram's artillery secured a position which took Hancock's lines in both reverse and enfilade, with eight guns at very short range. This unexpected and rapid fire opened the way for a charge, by Heth's division, when the larger portion of Hancock's men took a panic and broke in flight, leaving their works, 9 guns, 12 flags, over 3,000 muskets, and 2,150 prisoners, in Hill's hands, with a loss to him of but 720 men. It was an unheard — of thing for the veteran soldiery of Hancock to be thus discomfited, and they were only saved from utter rout by the desperate fighting of a small number of steadfast men, led by Hancock in person. Walker, in his Life of that great soldier, attributed this defeat to ‘the weakened spirit of our (Hancock's) men,’ adding:

Hancock had seen his troops fail in their attempts to carry the intrenched positions of the enemy, but he had never before had the mortification of seeing them driven, and his lines and guns taken. as on this occasion; and never before had he seen his men fail to respond, to the utmost, when he called upon them, personally, for a supreme effort; nor had he ever before ridden toward an enemy followed by a beggarly array of a few hundred stragglers, who had been gathered together and pushed toward the enemy. He could no longer conceal from himself that his once mighty corps retained but

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