As the Union siege of Petersburg began to take hold, Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant looked for ways to sever the railroads supplying the city and Gen. Robert E. Lee's army. One of these critical routes was the Weldon Railroad, which led south to the Confederacy's only remaining major port at Wilmington, North Carolina. On August 24th, the Army of the Potomac Second Corps moved south along the railroad, tearing up track, and screened by Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg’s cavalry division. To stop Hancock, Lee ordered Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill to take a force of two cavalry divisions and two infantry divisions and attack the Union positions along the railroad. The next afternoon, Hill's column struck. Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, supported by a division of Maj. Gen. William Mahone, hit the center and right of Hancock's men. Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton's cavalry overran the trenches on the Union left. Hancock personally attempted to rally his men, but by the end of the afternoon the Union lines were breached. Hill's Confederates captured 9 guns, 12 colors, and many prisoners. The old Second Corps was shattered. That night, Hancock withdrew to the main Union line near the Jerusalem Plank Road, bemoaning the declining combat effectiveness of his troops.