my command, consisting of the two white divisions of the Eighteenth Corps, and the divisions of Generals Ames and Turner of the Tenth Corps, in rear of the lines at Port Walthall, preparatory to embarkation at Bermuda Hundred, to join the Army of the Potomac. My orders were to hand on the north side of the Pamunkey to protect the engineer troops, who were to be sent to work on the bridges at that point. The following is the order upon which I moved:
WASHINGTON, May 28, 1864-2.30 p.m.
Lieutenant-General Grant directs that on reaching White House you will put the railroad bridge there in condition for crossing troops and artillery, and leave a sufficient force to hold it. Ask General Butler to give you artillery enough for that purpose. The railroad bridge corps will immediately leave Alexandria with men and materials for executing the work. As soon as you occupy the place telegraph here you progress in ascending the river and landing.
My command consisted very nearly of 16,000 infantry, sixteen pieces of artillery, and one squadron of cavalry of about 100 men. As I knew of no landing-place on the north side of the Pamunkey near the White House, I had asked permission from Washington, through General Butler, to land at West Point and march to the designated point, but this was refused. I, however, took the responsibility of sending General Ames and one brigade in fast steamers to land at West Point, and march to protect my landing if it should become necessary, and requested Admiral Lee to give orders to Captain Babcock, U. S. Navy, to cover the landing of this brigade by gun-boats. The necessary orders were promptly given by the admiral, with his usual zeal in all his co-operations. By Sunday morning, 11 a.m., 29th, the embarkation was so far advanced that I started to overtake the head of my command. On arriving at Fort Monroe, a telegram gave me information that General Grant had crossed the Pamunkey with the greater part of the Army of the Potomac, and then, deeming my proper course to be up the Pamunkey, landing at the White House, I immediately gave the necessary orders, and reached the landing at the White House, with my headquarters, on Monday, May 30, at 11 a.m. The transports were as rapidly unloaded as the inadequate means of landing would admit, and several fast steamers were sent back to assist in towing barges and schooners, and in aiding other steamers which had run aground on the shoals in the James River. During the night of the 30th and morning of the 31st, I received three copies of the following order:
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
Hanovertown, Va., May 28, 1864-1 p.m.
Major General W. F. SMITH,
Commanding Eighteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: The Army of the Potomac is now crossing to the south side of the Pamunkey River and massing at this place; the most of it has already crossed. You will leave a garrison at the White House until it is relieved by General Abercrombie's command from Port Royal, and with the remainder of your command move direct to New Castle, on the south side of the Pamunkey, and there await further orders. Order the garrison left by you at White House, on being relieved, to follow after and join you.
By command of Lieutenant-General Grant:
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.