out of our way and we would be enabled to cross not only the Appomattox but also Swift Run, and open up communication with General Butler, at Bermuda Hundred, before General Lee could send any re-enforcements from the five divisions that he was known to have north of the James River.
Major General A. E. BURNSIDE, U. S. Volunteers, duly sworn, says:
Soon after this army arrived before Petersburg I received a note from General Potter, stating that if it was desirable the fort in front of his position could, in his opinion, be mined, and that he would, at my request, make a statement of the matter or would come to my headquarters with Colonel Pleasants, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, and lay the matter before me verbally. I sent him word that I would be glad to take the matter into consideration; and accordingly he and Colonel Pleasants came to my headquarters and laid before me a plan for running a mine to that position. In the course of the conversation Colonel Pleasant remarked to me that this thing had first suggested by the men of his regiment who, I think, were stationed in the advance line and pretty much all of whom were miners from Schuylkill County, Pa. The matter was fully discussed, and I authorized General Potter to commence the work, making the remark, if I remember right, that it could be occupied in that way, and I would lay the matter before General Meade at my earliest opportunity. We parted with that understanding, and the work was commenced.
Probably at the first interview that I had with General Meade I mentioned the matter him. He said to me that he had no instructions in reference to siege operations in his front; that that was a matter for the lieutenant-general to decide upon; that he could not authorize any work of that kind, but he would acquiesce in it, and I am inclined to think that I have upon record a letter to the same effect from General Meade. This work was started and progressed with the full knowledge of General Meade; in fact, I was in almost daily communication with him, and much conversation was had upon that subject.
When the gallery was first started there were many discouragements in the way of prophecies as to its failure which had to be overcome, and a great many suggestions as to the mode by which the work should proceed. I, however, left the matter entirely in the hands, of General Potter, Colonel Pleasants, and his regiment, feeling satisfied that these miners had experience in matters of that kind which would enable them to accomplish this work.
When it began to be demonstrated that we would probably reach a point under the enemy's fort, conversations were had with reference to the feasibility of an assault after the explosion had taken place. Feeling that the old troops of the Ninth Corps had experienced very hard service during the campaign and had been in so many engagements, that they were very much wearied and their ranks thinned, I made up my mind if I was called on to make an assault with the Ninth Corps, to place the Fourth Division, under General Ferrero, in the advance, inasmuch as that division had not suffered so severely, in fact had not been in any general engagement during the campaign, but had frequently been very honorably engaged on the outposts of the army. General Ferrero himself and all his officers expressed to me their utmost confidence in his troops, and especially his confidence in their ability to make a charge, or in other words a dash. I accordingly instructed him to drill his troops with a view to leading the advance in case the Ninth Corps was called upon to make the attack.
Soon after this General Meade called upon me for a statement as to the practicability of making an assault in my front, which call seemed to have been general, or rather, seemed to have been made upon all the generals commanding corps then on the advance line. I answered him, giving to him as I conceived to be under the circumstances a proper opinion, stating that I thought the chances were fair that a successful could be made from my front if it could be supported in a specific way, and I could have the discretion of determining when the supporting columns should be put in. General Meade answered me to the effect that he commanded this army and that he could not give to any one the authority to determine as to the time that his troops should be put in action; that he would be glad to receive from me at all times such suggestions as I might make, but that he himself would take the responsibility of re-enforcing any force that he should see fit to order in action, or words to that effect. I at once wrote him a letter stating that I had no disposition whatever to claim the right to put other troops than my own in action; that I had simply made this suggestion because I had given troops to other corps commanders to support their columns, which they themselves had used during the campaign without any interference on my part, and I simply meant to ask what I had granted to others; that while I was certainly not anxious to put my own troops in action the troops of any other corps could be called upon to make the assault; that I was fully willing to accord to