War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0230 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter XLVIII.

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command? Did he or did he not ask to have the officer relived for such reason as brought the case within the act? Especially review that paragraph of the indorsement of your assistant which states the scope of the act.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

HEADQUARTERS,

Lines near Chaffin's, November 24, 1864.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from your office under date of the 19th instant, covering copies of the strictures upon my conduct in the affair of May 10 last, made by Major General R. Ransom, jr., and gladly avail myself of the invitation to make my response. Some delay has occurred from my duties in the field, which cannot be subordinated to any personal interest, however important.

On the afternoon of May 9 General Ransom ordered General Gracie and myself to move at daybreak next morning with one regiment each from our respective brigades, connected at the Petersburg turnpike and deployed as skirmishers-General Gracie's regiment to James River and mine to the railroad-to sweep the country and ascertain the position and strength of the enemy. Selecting the Fourteenth Virginia, Colonel White commanding-which was the second regiment of my brigade in strength and containing several companies from Chesterfield County, one chiefly from the immediate locality we were to traverse, in which a portion had bee scouting for the few preceding days-I caused it to be deployed at night as a portion of our picket-line about a mile from the camp, to be in readiness to move at the earliest dawn.

Just before moving, the next morning, I discovered that the regiment thus deployed id not quite reach the railroad. At the camp of the brigade the turnpike and railroad were not far apart, and a regiment deployed as skirmishers would have more than covered the space, they gradualy diverge for some distance and then converge, crossing each other. Having thus to choose between a substantial compliance with the order, the stretching exactly tot he railroad, which was in sight, being really unimportant, and the probable failure of the movement form the delay necessary to obtain the men to fill the gap, I determined to proceed at once, a decision I have doubted the correctness of. General Ransom states in hi indorsement of the application of the commanders of regiments of my brigade for my restoration to its command that i was "directed to cover the country form the turnpike to the railroad with a line of skirmishers." In his report of my conduct he speaks of "a strong line of skirmishers from the railroad to James River, extending across the turnpike." He does not state that I was ordered to cover the space between the turnpike and railroad with one regiment. This is an important omission. As he has made the fact that this space was not covered a subject of grave complaint against me, there can be no possible mistake on my part as to his having specified the force I was to employ. The singularity of the order directing his two brigadiers to take each one regiment and to use them deployed as skirmishers fixed it upon my attention, and the loud, imperious tones of the