I have received a disturbing report that a Rebel cavalry raid has made off with a herd of our cattle. Gen. Meade writes,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, September 16, 1864-10 a.m.
Harper’s Ferry, or Washington, or Baltimore:
Warren’s reconnaissance was withdrawn yesterday about 12 m. Signal officers reported the movement of the enemy’s troops toward our left at various times yesterday from 9 a.m. till sunset. These were believed to be counter movements to meet an expected advance on our part. This view was confirmed by Warren’s pickets on the Vaughan road reporting the return of the enemy to Petersburg, and by a deserter this morning, who states his command left the trenches and moved to their right yesterday afternoon and returned during the night. This morning daylight our cavalry pickets and reserves were strongly attacked between the Blackwater and the James. At the same time a dash was made on the cattle herd at Coggins’ Point, and it is feared this herd and its guard has fallen into the enemy’s hands. A prisoner taken reports the movement as being executed by Hampton with three brigades of cavalry, who left Stony Creek Depot last night, and after crossing the Blackwater took the shortest and most direct road to Coggins’ Point. Immediately on receiving intelligence of this movement General Davies, commanding cavalry, was directed to pursue with all his available force, and a brigade of infantry, with a battery of artillery, was at the same time sent down the Prince George Court-House road to re-enforce Kautz. Warren reports demonstrations on his front this morning, his pickets being driven in, but at last report he had re-established his line. It is believed this movement was a diversion in favor of the cavalry raid. This raid was one which I have feared for some time, as with the limited force of cavalry under my command and the great extent of country to be watched, I have always considered Coggins’ Point an unsuitable position for the cattle herd, it being liable to capture at any time by a coup-de-main of the enemy in force. Every effort will be made to recover the herd or a portion of it.
GEO. G. MEADE,
HARPER’S FERRY, September 16, 1864.
If the enemy makes so rich a haul as to get our cattle herd he will be likely to strike far to the south, or even to the southeast to get around with it. Our cavalry should either recover what is lost, or else, in the absence of so much of the enemy’s cavalry, strike the Weldon road far to the south of where it has been destroyed.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 167-8
O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 852-3