Primary Source Material
on the Soldiers and the Battles
Home The Armies The Soldiers The Battles Civilians Articles Sources About Us
If this website has been useful to you, please consider making a Donation.

Your support will help keep this website free for everyone, and will allow us to do more research. Thank you for your support!

Battle of Weldon Railroad, VA
in the American Civil War

Union Battle Summary

Weldon Railroad, Va., Aug. 18-21, 1864. 5th and 9th Army Corps; Spear's and Gregg's Cavalry. During the siege of Petersburg Maj.-Gen. G.K. Warren, commanding the 5th corps, was sent on a expedition against the Weldon railroad, which connected Petersburg with Weldon, N.C. Warren moved at 4 a.m. on the 18th, with his own corps and Spear's cavalry brigade, and about 7 o'clock encountered the Confederate pickets about a mile from Globe Tavern, a small station on the railroad, 5 miles south of Petersburg. Griffin's division, which was in advance, was formed in line of battle, skirmishers were deployed and pushed forward, and a number of prisoners belonging to Dearing's cavalry brigade were captured. Ayres' division was then moved north along the railroad, the intersection of the Vaughan road being the objective point, but Dearing had reported to Beauregard that the Federals were in force at Globe Tavern, and after proceeding about a mile Ayres found Heth's division in position, with artillery, to dispute further progress. Heth opened fire with his battery, Ayres quickly formed his division in line of battle, Crawford's division was thrown to the right of Ayres to outflank the enemy, and Hofmann's brigade of Cutler's division was moved up to support the first line. After some sharp fighting Heth was driven back and Warren pressed forward to within a mile of the Vaughan road. Meade now sent word to Warren to hold on at all hazards, and ordered Maj.-Gen. John G. Parke, commanding the 9th corps, to send forward reinforcements to assist Warren in retaining his hold on the railroad. Parke sent forward the divisions of Willcox, Potter and White, and Mott's division of the 2nd corps, which was temporarily attached to the 9th. These troops were soon afterward followed by Gregg's cavalry division and 200 men to engage in the destruction of the track toward Reams' station. Beauregard also sent out reinforcements, consisting of three brigades of Mahone's division, W.H.F. Lee's cavalry and Pegram's artillery, all under command of Lieut.-Gen. A.P. Hill. On the afternoon of the 19th this force was concentrated at the Vaughan road junction for an attack on Warren, who had in the meantime moved up to within half a mile of that point.

On the morning of the 19th Warren sent Bragg's brigade to the right, with instructions to support Crawford and establish connection with the skirmishers near the Jerusalem plank road. A little after 4 p.m. Heth attacked Ayres in front, while Mahone moved round Crawford's right, broke through Bragg's line and struck Crawford's skirmish line and part of his line of battle in the rear. The skirmish line fell back and in doing so carried with it Crawford's line of battle and the right of Ayres' line. Crawford was surrounded and compelled to fight in all directions. The enemy pressed forward, confident upon victory, but just at this critical moment Willcox's veteran division arrived on the field. The brigades of Hartranft and Humphrey were ordered to the support of Crawford and the Confederates were driven back with considerable loss. In the melee Lyle's brigade of Crawford's division suffered heavily in prisoners, Gen. Hays, commanding Ayres' 1st brigade, was captured, and Crawford was at one time prisoner, but managed to escape. Humphrey and Hartranft now advanced and drove the enemy from the captured works, taking a battleflag and a large number of prisoners. White's division engaged Colquitt's brigade, drove it back and captured some prisoners. Warren reformed his line and moved forward, retaking all the ground that had been lost, and, pursuant to Gen. Meade's orders, intrenched "as close up to the enemy's works as he could get," though the next day he drew back about a mile to more open ground, where his artillery could be used to better advantage. At 9 a.m. on the 21st Hill's entire corps, part of Hoke's division and Lee's cavalry attacked Warren's new position. The Confederates opened with artillery, which was kept up for about an hour, when assaults were made simultaneously along the north and west of the Federal lines, but every attack was repulsed, the artillery doing good service, which demonstrated Warren's wisdom in falling back out of the woods. As the enemy fell back the Union skirmish line advanced and captured about 200 prisoners, besides 139 wounded that were brought in. Among the prisoners were 39 commissioned officers. Later in the day Mahone assaulted the left of Warren's works with such energy that Hagood's brigade got inside the lines, though but very few of the men belonging to that command got out again, being captured in a body.

The Federal loss during the four days' operations was 251 killed, 1,149 wounded and 2,879 missing. Most of the missing were those captured during the assault on Crawford on the 19th. The Confederate loss was not ascertained, but it must have been much heavier, as Warren's troops buried 211 of the enemy's dead after the assault of the 21st.

Source: The Union Army, Volume 6, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


Copyright 2010-2011 by
A Division of