graphical engineers, without a reconnaissance, with no knowledge of the enemy's position, with a hurried and imperfect organization, not to defend a known and threatened point, but to attack an enemy of unknown strength in his own position, and upon contingencies which might or might not obtain. I do not think I should be held responsible for the escape of the enemy, for even with more information and under different orders I do not see how my force could have accomplished that. I can see now after the event how I might have done much more toward the defeat of the enemy. I add, only in explanation of action unlooked for on my part, and of which my career gives no warrant, that the painful condition of my system-previously ill and at the time disordered by absolute want of sleep for a long time, and personal labor due to want of officers-would, no doubt, have incapacitated me from acting with correct judgment and decision in a less difficult case. This condition was much aggravated by my exertions during the day, my personal a attention to all parts of the field, the peculiar terms of my orders, the absence of information, and especially by constant and harassing reports from Petersburg and from my flanks. I say this not to excuse, but to account both for what I have done and not done.
I must also add that conscious of this disordered condition of my whole system, body and mind, I could not and not blame Generals Wise and Martin for their expressions on the morning of the 17th, and I felt it my duty to relinquish the command to General Hill for the public good, knowing him to be thoroughly competent, as well as my superior. As statements of this kind in and official report should not be mere assertions, I beg you will, if you think necessary, have an inquiry made as to what I have said in explanation. I can only say that, viewed in any way, from your first telegraphic dispatch of the 11th instant until now, I have been and am most unfortunate.*
[W. H. C. WHITING.]
[General G. T. BEAUREGARD.]
NEAR PETERSBURG, VA., August 23, 1864.
Major General W. H. C. WHITING,
Commanding Third Military District, Wilmington, N. C.:
GENERAL: Your letter of August 11 would have received more prompt attention had not my time been wholly engrossed by public duties which forbade the consideration of private matters, either my own or those of others. So far as I can relieve you from undue censure with regard to your course on May 16, when charged with your important part of the programme of operations for that day, I cordially do so. Taking the special reports named by yourself as those which have most grieved you, it gives me pleasure to say that I did not place you under arrest nor deprive you of your sword on the field of battle, and that you were not absent from the field. I would if I could give as emphatic a negative to the other reports you mention. I can not do so, however, general, except so far as may be legitimately inferred from the conclusion reached and expressed in my official report. The language of my official report is as follows;
The more glorious results anticipated were lost by the hesitation of the left wing and the premature halt of the Petersburg column before obstacles, in neither case sufficient to have deterred from the execution of the movements prescribed.
*The remainder of this report is missing.