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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 42, Part 3 (Richmond-Fort Fisher)
Page 1143 Chapter LIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

and it is not unlikely that Grant will be obliged to relieve Sherman with some of his troops. I send you the suggestion that you may advise General Early that he may look for it.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. LONGSTREET,

Lieutenant-General.


HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON'S DIVISION,
Petersburg, Va., October 9, 1864.

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. PALMER,

Assistant Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: It appear that Hancock's corps in my front extends from the river to perhaps the Jerusalem plank road. At any rate the works are but thinly manned, and the character of the troops very inferior. The vedettes posted at night in front of the enemy's works are said to be some fifteen or twenty yards apart. One and, in some places, two men are in each pit. The strength of the front line varies perhaps, two men are in each pit;. The strength of the front line varies perhaps at different points with the regiments on duty. Deserters uniformly represent their line as weaker than our line. Some deserters represent a small force in reserve behind the rear line. The troops of the Second Corps are mainly substitutes and conscripts. Those that come to us represent these men mostly indisposed to fight, and anxious to get out of the service. In some cases it is said nearly whole regiments desire to desert to us, and would be glad to be captured. Officers labor to make the men. The artillery seems to be much carelessness on the part of the men. The artillery seems to be much reduced on the enemy's lines, and nearly all pieces are withdrawn from front line. The 10-inch mortar that formerly shelled the city, is said to have been taken to City Point. I have no doubt that a good line of battle would sweep everything in my front. A few men could capture the enemy's vedettes at two or three points on my line for a short distance, but would have to extend to a long distance on their line to get a few prisoners, and the difficulty would be to get back to our works after having drawn the enemy's fire, which, of course, would be directed to our front lines. This difficulty mainly arises from the abatis and chevaux-de-frise in front of our breast-works, and is a serious one. By carrying the whole line of works in my front we would capture some artillery and perhaps a large number of prisoners. We could swing to the right, cut and destroy a part of their railroad, and by pressing on might rout their whole left wing. As an objection, it canbe properly urged that the distance to the enemy's extreme left is too great to make quick work of the operation, and that the enemy's line may perhaps be cut farther to the right with greater advantage to the same object.

It may also be urged that the enemy are said to have good ditches in front of their batteries, and we can see a strong abatis in front of their infantry rifle-pits. We might, with a good line of battle, simply move out, capture, and hold the whole of the enemy's works in our front. This would increase the length of their line and make them feel the necessity of greater strength in men, and the diminution of their forces on the extreme right and left. The point on our right at which we should have to connect the works thus captured with our present line would have to connect the works thus captured with our present line would have to be judiciously selected, otherwise the enemy's batteries farther to the right would take our troops in the captured lines in reserve, and thus cause them to fall back under a damaging fire. The extent of damage that could be done to the enemy, and the small


Page 1143 Chapter LIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 42, Part 3 (Richmond-Fort Fisher)
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