Third. It involved the almost certain fall of Petersburg during that delay.
Fourth. The retreat of General Lee, a distance of 60 miles, from the immediate front of a superior force with not less than 8,000 of the enemy's cavalry between him and the Chickahominy, to retard his movement, at least endangered the safety of his army, if it did not involve its destruction.
Fifth. Such a retreat, even if successful, would have exposed to devastation a large portion of valuable territory on which we must depend for supplies in future; and would have seriously injured the high morale of Lee's army.
Sixth. It would abandon the whole valley of Virginia, and give the enemy possession of the Central railroad by which Lee is now fed via Lynchburg.
Seventh. It was unnecessary, as the force now under General Beauregard, 20,000 infantry, 1,000 artillery, and 2,000 cavalry, was ample for the purpose of crushing that under Butler, if promptly and vigorously used.
For these reasons, after hearing General Beauregard's suggestions, I earnestly urged upon Your Excellency the policy of attack at the earliest moment. The attack was made, and the enemy easily routed. Our communications were restored, and our divided forces united. General Lee still holds his position defiantly. The results anticipated from the attack are not fully realized; but from no want of force on our part, nor from error in the plan.
MAY 20, 1864.
The objections of General Bragg to this plan, as well as others that might be urged, seem to me conclusive against its adoption. As, however, the matter has been directly submitted to the President, I do not feel called upon to take any action on the subject.
J. A. SEDDON,
RICHMOND, May 19, 1864.
Copy of telegram dated Hancock's house, May 18, 1864, received here 19th, viz:
I have about 19,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, and four battalions artillery this side Swift Creek; beyond Swift Creek Walker's brigade and two regiments (Dearing's brigade) cavalry.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Official copy respectfully submitted to the Adjutant-General for his information.
JNO. B. SALE,
Colonel and Military Secretary.
65 R R - VOL XXXVI, PT II