Soon after the Union success at the battle of Weldon Railroad, Gen. Hancock's (USA) II Corps was ordered to move south along that rail line, destroying it as it went. The intent was to stretch even further the distance by which Gen. Lee (CSA) had to move his supplies.
By late August 24 the II Corps had worked its way three miles south of Reams Station. Hancock was informed that Gen. A.P. Hill's (CSA) infantry and Gen. Hampton's (CSA) cavalry were moving out of Petersburg's defenses to meet this threat.