The dull but deadly rhythm of trench warfare picked up again as both sides adjusted to the Federal gains. Beyond the flanks of these entrenchments, scouting parties prowled and clashed in a small but sometimes brutal series of mostly unrecorded engagements.
One by-product of this activity was military intelligence regarding the enemy's dispositions. On September 5th, a Confederate scout named George D. Shadburn reported that the Federals had gathered a herd of 3,000 cattle at Coggin's Point, a few miles east of City Point. Just two days earlier, Robert E. Lee had suggested to Wade Hampton that the enemy's rear was "open to attack." Prodded by Lee's hint, and armed with Shadburne's report, Hampton now suggested a deep penetration cavalry raid to rustle the Yankee beef.
Lee approved and on the morning of September 14, the cavalryman led four brigades plus detachments from two more (about 4,000 men) out from Petersburg on a looping course that brought them in behind the Federal trenches. Hampton's move caught the Union security forces too dis- persed to meet such a concentrated strike . So, when the Rebels burst out of the morning gloom on September 16, they were able to correl the cattle and hustle them back the way they had come. The return trip wasn't without some excitement as elements of the poorly organized Federal pursuit did make contact, but on September 17 Hampton proudly reported his achievement to Lee. A total of 2,486 cattle and 300 prisoners had been taken at a cost of 10 men killed, 47 wounded, and 4 missing. The animals soon disappeared into the maw of the Confederate commissary, and for the next few weeks Federal pickets had to endure a new taunt: "Hello Yanks! Want any fresh beef?"