Question. Have you a note written you by me about two weeks before the assault as to the practicability of an assault in my front, my answer thereto, your second letter, and my reply, and will you be kind enough to furnish copies?
Answer. I presume that those documents, like all other official documents, are on file. I will have a search made for them, and as soon as they are discovered will very cheerfully furnish General Burnside or the Court a copy of them.
(General Burnside explained that one of them was a semi-official letter, and General Meade, being reminded of the purport of, answered that he did not think he had it).
Question. What knowledge had you of the movements of the different divisions of the enemy of July 30?
Answer. I had very positive information from deserters, not only those who came within my own lines here, but those came into the lines of General Butler and those who came into the lines of General Hancock, that there were but three divisions of the enemy in our front, consisting of Mahone's division, of Hill's corps, and Johnson's and Hoke's divisions, of Longstreet's corps, and that the other divisions of Lee's army were on the north side of the James River confronting Generals Hancock and Sheridan on the 29th. I also received the same information from prisoners taken that morning. During the operations I received information from the signal officer on the plank road that the enemy were moving troops from their right to their center, which I anticipated, and upon receiving that information the orders were sent to General Warren to endeavor to turn the enemy's right by pushing forward General Crawford and to General Wilson to push on without delay, without waiting for the arrival of General Sheridan coming from Deep Bottom.
Question. Did the order to suspend operations (given about 9 a.m. July 30) originate with Lieutenant-General Grant?
Answer. No, sir; the order, I think, originated with myself. Some time before the order was given I informed Lieutenant-General Grant that so far as I could see do; that the time had passed for the coup de main to succeed; and I suggested to him that we should immediately withdraw the troops, to which he acceded. About that time a dispatch was received from the signal officer of the Fifth Corps stating that he colored troops had captured a brigade of the enemy with four of their colors, to which, although I did not attach much importance, not knowing how a signal officer could see an operation of that kind, when it did not come to me from the officer in charge of the operation, we, nevertheless, suspended this order and held it in abeyance until the arrival of the dispatch of General Burnside, informing me that some of the men of the Eighteenth and Ninth Corps were retiring, and I think also that the lieutenant-general himself rode down to our trenches and made some personal examination and had seen General Ord and had some conversation with him upon his return. From what he heard from General Ord, and subsequently an officer coming in and saying that he colored troops instead of capturing a brigade and four colors had themselves retired in great confusion, which information, I think, was given me by Major Fisher, the chief signal officer, I again referred the subject to the lieutenant-general and again gave him, my opinion that as it was then about 9.25 it was unnecessary to make any other efforts and an unnecessary sacrifice of life, my idea being that they could be withdrawn without any difficulty then, or we should have difficulty later in the day in withdrawing them. To this he assented and the order was given to withdraw them. Afterward, when the information was received from General Burnside of the difficulty of retiring then, the order was modified.
Question. Were any instructions given for destroying the bridges in Petersburg in case the crest was gained?
Answer. There were not, for two reasons. And first, if we had succeeded, as I hoped we would, in overcoming the enemy, we should have driven them across the Appomattox and should have wanted those bridges to follow them; but the contingency of their destroying those bridges was held in view, and it was to meet that contingency that the chief engineer was ordered to have a pontoon train brought up so that we could throw our own bridges. My expectation was that if we had succeeded in the coup de main, that these three divisions of the enemy would have gone