War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0294 Chapter XLVIII. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

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and on three roads as directed. For some reason the cavalry attack on the left was delayed three hours, and did not take place for five hours after the infantry had driven the enemy inside their works along a portion of the front, and had accomplished everything except an actual open assault. I had no order to make an assault, and upon the unanimous opinions of the officers of rank under me, with which my own coincided, I determined not to make it. I conceive that in so doing I only exercised the discretion left with me, and that I would have been justly held culpable in neglecting to exercise it. I believe that an open assault would have resulted in great slaughter and probable defeat. Colonel Hawley, commanding all the white infantry, says, "If but 400 men could have been in my from to oppose, with even a few pieces of artillery, they ought in all reason to have repulsed me." General Hinks, commanding the colored infantry, sent me word by Lieutenant Branard, of my staff, that the enemy was much too strong for him in his front, and had been re-enforced by "two regiments," and "that it would be laughter to attempt an assault." The truth of the matter, general, is simply this: No commander, except one of criminal rashness, would have ordered an assault on those works unless he ignored all the experience of this war. Your general authority to expend a certain number of lives to secure the destruction of certain property meant nothing really, for such things are not matters of barter. One word from my lips on that day would have caused the sacrifice, but in my opinion would not have secured the success. You say upon the subject of an assault and its probable success tht it was not my business and that you had ordered it. I must respectfully take issue with you on both these points. The first I will not discuss; the second I most emphatically deny, and again request a copy of the order or the slightest proof of its ever having been given.

For a proof of all the foregoing statements, I have convincing documentary evidence, and can at any time establish my entire innocence, not only of the grave charges you make, but of any neglect. I shall apply for no court of inquiry that will take me from active service until all reasonable sources of prompt redress fail.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




City Point, June 18, 1864.

Major General Q. A. GILLMORE,

U. S. Volunteers:

GENERAL: I was but once on that portion of the enemy's lines in front of Petersburg approached by you on the 9th and could not at the time locate exactly the roads by which you approached. That part of the line appeared to me stronger than any other. Some parts might be considered through the difficulties of the ground as unassailable, and the portion of the line in question if properly manned could not be successfully assaulted unless with a great preponderance of numbers aided by a powerful artillery.

I am, very respectfully, yours, most obediently,


Brigadier General and Chief Engineer of Armies in the Field.