about 1,000 men, and if I can have ten or even six of those surf-boats this landing can be effected without difficulty. If this can be done, and I have every confidence that it can, there is a fair chance of our being able to surprise Fort Fisher. If we cannot do that, the expedition can be turned into a raid that may call off no small force from Virginia. The naval forces off Wilmington will co-operate, but I find that they have not the means of landing the men as rapidly as is necessary. Fearing that you may not be at Fort Monroe at this time, I shall write to Colonel Biggs, urging him to send the boats.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES, Cold Harbor, Va., June 5, 1864.
Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: A full survey of all the ground satisfies me that it would not be practicable to hold a line northeast of Richmond that would protect the Fredericksburg railroad, to enable us to use it for supplying the army. To do so would give us a long vulnerable line of road to protect, exhausting much of our strength in guarding it, and would leave open to the enemy all of his lines of communication on the south side of the James. My idea from the start has been to beat Lee's army, if possible, north of Richmond, then, after destroying his lines of communication north of the James River, to transfer the army to the south side and besiege Lee in Richmond, or follow him south if he should retreat. I now find, after more than thirty days of trial, that the enemy deems it of the first importance to run no risks with the armies they now have. They act purely on the defensive, behind breast-works, or feebly on the offensive immediately in front of them, and where in case of repulse they can instantly retire behind them. Without a greater sacrifice of human life than I am willing to make, all cannot be accomplished that I had designed outside of the city. I have, therefore, resolved upon the following plan: I will continue to hold substantially the ground now occupied by the Army of the Potomac, taking advantage of any favorable circumstance that may present itself, until the cavalry can be sent west to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad from about Beaver Dam for some 25 or 30 miles west. When this is effected, I will move the army to the south side of James River, either by crossing the Chickahominy and marching near to City Point, or by going to the mouth of the Chickahominy on the north side and crossing there. To provide for this last and most probable contingency six or more ferry-boats of the largest class ought to be immediately provided. Once on the south side of the James River I can cut off all sources of supply to the enemy, except what is furnished by the canal. If Hunter succeeds in reaching Lynchburg that will be lost to him also. Should Hunter not succeed I will still make the effort to destroy the canal by sending cavalry up the south side of the river with a pontoon train to cross wherever they can. The feeling of the two armies now seems to be that the rebels can protect themselves only by strong intrenchments, while our