verbal report made in his presence upon your return, to your careful consideration; and in connection I will call your attention to the fact that after your return to my headquarters at 6 o'clock in the evening, and upon being informed of what had happened to General Kautz, you were very anxious to go out to find him with an escort of 50 cavalry, and that you sent your body guard to my headquarters at 8.30 in the evening for that purpose, when I informed you that General Kautz had returned, having been inside the entrenchments of Petersburg. It would seem that if when you were within 5 miles of him with 3,500 men you were not able to open communication with him, it was hardly worth while to try with a body guard of 50, because such an operation would have added weakness to him and not strength.
To have been obliged to review your report, point out some of its errors and inconsistencies, and to bring out the disobedience of orders, as well in point of time as in want of action, to be obliged to dwell upon the details of this humiliating failure, to probe anew the acute wounds of hopes blasted when so much was expected, to be obliged to commenct even with deserved severity upon the actions of an officer whose personal relations have been as pleasant as mine with you, has been a most painful task, to which nothing but a conviction of the stern necessity of a duty to the country to be done could have compelled me.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
In the Field, June 14, 1864.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Armies of United States:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose the report* of General Gillmore of his operations on Petersburg, with my indorsement thereon; also a copy of a note+ to my chief of staff received in reply, also the reply furnished him [Gillmore] by me at his request, and a copy of my special order of this date, being the action taken upon the whole subject. I need not say to you how unpleasant and painful this whole matter has been, and the necessity of taking the action I have, which seemed to me imperative. The whole matter will be investigated by a competent court of inquiry.
Not taking into account the loss of valuable lives in other engagements in the war, a more disastrous defeat has not been sustained by the American arms than this has been to the success of the operations on the south side of the James. Had the movement been a success, as it easily might have been, Petersburg would have been in our possession, as all subsequent and prior information shows it might and ought to have been, the whole railroad destroyed effectually, the line of the Appomattox secured, and the enemy's defensive works in our front rendered useless.
I also inclose a copy of the Richmond Sentinel with the account of the Petersburg Express of the affair. It will be seen by that account that the enemy never discovered that General Gillmore and Hinks with the real attacking column came against them at all. They describe the movements of the real column of attack simply "as feints to deceive our forces" while the real movement for the
*See p. 287. +See of June 12, p. 290.