War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0259 Chapter XLVIII. SOUTH SIDE OF THE JAMES.

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by Generals Wise and Martin with my movements and orders of the preceding day, deeming that harmony of action was to be preferred at that time to any personal consideration, and feeling at the time-as, indeed, I had felt for twenty-four hours-physically unfit for action. The junction was effected between 9 and 10, the enemy having retired to his fortifications in the night.

I give here the statement of the movements as they recur to me. I had no staff officers at all to keep the record of events or of time; no appliances required by a general in the field; no one to aid me in the direction of movements, except the volunteers services of Colonel Paul, for whose aid I am very grateful. My single aide-de-camp, Captain Strong, I was obliged to post in the rear to receive an forward the dispatches continually arriving from Petersburg. The above is simply a statement of the movements of the troops, with little or no explanation. It contains but a small part of the circumstances materially affecting my action. I think I could and would have effected more had i not considered myself bound by my orders to control my movements by my knowledge of an engagement in my front. In the absence of any information until too late of even that of firing, I did not feel justified in pushing with a small force in an unknown country between an enemy represented so strong and his fortifications unless I could feel certain he was actually engaged with out main body. Aware, however, that while much was expected of me, and in this case I have unfortunately accomplished but little, I desire to submit in addition to the report the following statement, not in excuse, but in explanation, if it should be thought that I had erred:

Called suddenly while in bad health from Wilmington by a telegraphic dispatch, simply desiring me to confer with the general, I came at once, attended by a single aide, and totally unprepared with anything for service out of my command. I was placed in charge not only of Petersburg, a threatened city, but the whole Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. This was at 10 o'clock on the 13th, the day of my arrival. That night and the 14th and 15th the railroad communications were cut on every side. The city was menaced from different points. It was uncertain whether the enemy, having secured his base, would make Drewry's Bluff or this city his objective point. Either was vital to Richmond. the number of troops was inadequate to the defense of widely extended lines, covering one of the most important and yet one of the weakest points in the country. The barrier on the north of the city was almost nothing. The confusion was indescribable. The late commanding general was very ill; the subordinate district commander but just arrived, like myself, on the 14th and 15th; the orders of pressing nature from Richmond and my commanding general were contradictory and embarrassing, as may be seen by comparison; at the time most needed communication was very hazardous and conducted in tedious cipher; add that I was entirely ignorant of localities as not to know my way through the streets. From what I could see and learn of the position, Petersburg was at the mercy of the enemy.

Under these circumstances, harassed with department business, without having taken off my clothes from the time of my arrival, or having been able to secure an hour's rest, I left my office before day on the morning of the 16th to conduct an expedition into a district entirely unknown to me or my troops, without a staff, without topo-