War of the Rebellion: Serial 072 Page 0042 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

Search Civil War Official Records

there on Saturday, the 1st of April, under Colonel Sumner,of the purpose of cutting the railroad about Hicksford. This, if accomplished, will to be a surprise, and therefore from 300 to 500 men will be sufficient. They should, however, be supported by all the infantry that can be spared from Norfolk and Portsmouth, as far out as to where the cavalry crosses the Blackwater. The crossing should probably be at Uniten. Should Colonel Sumner succeed in reaching the Weldon road he will be instructed to do all the damage possible to the triangle of roads between Hicksford, Weldon, and Gaston. The railroad bridge at Weldon being fitted up for the passage of carriages, it might be practicable to destroy any accumulation of supplies the enemy may have collected south of the Roanoke. All the troops will move with four days' rations in haversacks, and eight days' in wagons. To avoid as much hauling as possible, and to give the Army of the James the same number of days' supply with the Army of the Potomac, General Ord will direct his commissary and quartermaster to have sufficient supplies delivered at the terminus of the road to fill up in passing. Sixty rounds of ammunition per man will be taken in wagons, and as much grain as the transportation on hand will carry, after taking the specified amount of other supplies. The densely wooded country in which the army has to operate making the use of much artillery impracticable, the amount taken with the army will be reduced to six or eight guns to each division, at the option of the army commanders.

All necessary preparations for carrying these directions into operation may be commenced at once. The reserves of the Ninth Corps should be massed as much as possible. While I would not now order an unconditional attack on the enemy's line by them, they should be ready and should make the attack if the enemy weaken his line in their front, without waiting for orders. In case they carry the line, then the whole of the Ninth Corps could would follow up, so as to join to co-operate with the balance of the army. To prepare for this the Ninth Corps will have rations issued to them,same as the balance of the army. General Weitzel will keep vigilant watch upon his front, and if found at all practicable to break through at any point,he will do so. A success north of the James should be followed up with great promptness. An attack will not be feasible unless it is found that the enemy has detached largely. In that case it may be regarded as evident that the enemy are relying upon their local reserves, principally, for the defense of Richmond. Preparations may be made for abandoning all the line north of the James, except inclosed works - only to be abandoned, however, after a break is made in the lines of the enemy.

By these instructions a large part of the armies against Richmond is left behind. The enemy, knowing this,may,as an only chance, strip their lines to the merest skeleton, in the hope of advantage not being taken of it, while they hurl everything against the moving column, and return. It cannot be impressed too strongly upon commanders of troops left in the trenches not to allow this to occur without taking advantage of it. The very fact of the enemy coming out to attack, if he does so might be regarded as almost conclusive evidence of such a weakening of his lines. I would have it particularly enjoined upon corps commanders that, in case of an attack from the enemy, those not attacked are not to wait for orders from the commanding officer of the army to which they belong, but that they will move promptly, and notify the commander of their action. I would also enjoin the same action on the part of division commanders when other parts of their corps are engaged. In line manner I would urge the importance of following up a repulse of the enemy.



Early on the morning of the 25th the enemy assaulted our lines in front of the Ninth Corps (which held from the Appomattox River toward our left) and carried Fort Stedman and a part of the line to the right and left of it, established themselves, and turned the guns of the fort against us; bur our troops on either flank held their ground until the reserves were brought up, when the enemy was driven back with a heavy loss in killed and wounded, and 1,900 prisoners. Our loss was 68 killed, 337 wounded, and 506 missing. General Meade at once ordered the other corps to advance and feel the enemy in their respective fronts. Pushing forward, they captured and held the enemy's strongly intrenched picket-line in front of the Second and Sixth Corps, and 834 prisoners. The enemy made desperate