HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, August 17, 1864-9 a.m.
All quiet on the lines during the night. Some little picket-firing and mortar practice. I forward dispatch from signal officer, indicating a return of part of the enemy's troops that were seen to move yesterday p.m.
GE. G. MEADE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, August 17, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: The following dispatch from the plank road signal station is respectfully forwarded:
Camps reported broken up in last evening's report reoccupied during the night, but with less force, I think, than occupied them yesterday. No other observed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. F. FISHER,
Captain and Signal Officer.
CITY POINT, VA., August 17, 1864.
GENERAL: The report of prisoners captured north of the James indicates that all the cavalry, or nearly so, south of Petersburg has been withdrawn, and also three brigades of infantry have been sent north of the river. There may have been a further reduction of the infantry force, but there is no evidence to show it. Under these circumstances no decisive result could be expected from moving a single corps by our left; but they might get to the Weldon road and, with the aid of a little cavalry, cut and destroy a few miles of it. You may, therefore, start Warren in the morning. I do not want him to fight any unequal battles nor to assault fortifications. His movements should be more a reconnaissance in force, with instructions to take advantage of any weakness of the enemy he may discover. The Ninth and Eighteenth Corps from so thin a line on their present front that no assistance can be expected from them further than the number of the enemy they detain by their presence. Three or four days' rations will be sufficient for General Warren to carry with him. If he cannot strike the road near the enemy's line inclosing Petersburg he can strike or fell farther south. If he finds the enemy extending along the railroad, showing front whenever he does, let him remain, holding them there and sending back for further supplies. I want, if possible, to make such demonstrations as will force Lee to withdraw a portion of his troops from the Valley, so that Sheridan can strike a blow against the balance.
U. S. GRANT,