with him, and on the next morning, not having heard anything from General Meade, and knowing from information that I had received that he had returned from City Point during the evening, I imagined that no further action was to be taken in the matter, and that I was to be allowed to place the Fourth Division in the advance.
On Friday forenoon General Willcox and General Potter, two of my division commanders, came to my headquarters, and we talked over the matter of the fight which was to take place on Saturday morning. I said to one or both of them to this effect: that I had been very much worried and troubled the day before lest General Meade would overrule that part of my plan which contemplated the putting in of the colored troops, but that I hoped nothing further would be heard from it because General Meade had gone to City Point the day before, and the matter was to be referred to General Grant, and that inasmuch as I had not heard from General Meade I took it for granted that he had decided to allow the thing to remain as it was. This I must necessarily give in substance, because my conversations with my division commanders are not guarded. They can be called upon themselves to state what they know about the matter. Soon after that, say 11 o'clock, Generals Meade and Ord came to my headquarters. I am under the impression that I broached the subject myself as to the colored division taking the advance, but whether I did or not he informed me that General Grant coincided with him in opinion, and it was decided that I could not put that division in advance. I felt, and I suppose I expressed and showed, very great disappointment at this announcement, and finally in the conversation which occured, and to which there are two witness here present, I asked General Meade if that decision could not be changed. He said, "No, general, it cannot; it is final, and you must put in your white troops." No doubt in the conversation I gave some of the reasons for not wishing to put the white troops in that I had given at his headquarters, but of that I am not certain. This was the day before the fight. I said to General Meade that that would necessarily change my plan. Now, this conversation either occured at that time or it occured at a later hour in the day, say 1 or 2 o'clock, when General Meade returned to my headquarters, because he went off with General Ord for an hour or two, say, and returned to my headquarters. It is not impossible that this conversation occured in the afternoon instead of in the forenoon of the 29th.
After some conversation with Generals Willcox and Potter as to which troops should take the advance, one of them remarked to me that I had better send for General Ledlie and we would talk the matter over as to which one of the divisions should take the advance. I sent for General Ledlie, and after some discussion the matter I decided that, taking everything into consideration, it would be but fair that these gentlemen should cast lots for the advance. General Willcox was probably better situated, as to position, for the advance, as his troops then were, than either of the other divisions-certainly, than General Ledlie-but his troops, as I stated before, had been constantly on the line, with the exception of an intermission of a day or two, which rendered it, if anything, desirable that General Ledlie's troops should lead instead of his. General Potter's troops had been, next to General Willcox's, more constantly on the line, and I think he was, next to him, better situated for the advance; but, as I have indicated by previous remarks, General Ledlie's division was less fatigued, and, in my opinion, it was more just to call upon them to make the charge, and they had fought as gallantly as troops could fight on the 17th, and I therefore did not hesitate to call upon them in consequence of any lack of faith in their courage. So I said, "I will be fair to cast lots." And so they did cast lots, and General Ledlie drew the advance. He at once left my headquarters, in a very cheerful mood, to make his arrangements for the advance, as no time could be lost in making the necessary arrangements, as it was then certainly 3 o'clock in the afternoon and the assault was to be made next morning.
I directed him to take his brigade commanders and go to the front with Colonel Loring, my inspector-general, who was entirely conversant with the ground, and I indicated to Colonel Loring about the position I desired General Ledlie to take, and I also stated verbally to General Willcox and General Potter about the positions I desired them to take with their divisions, and the ground being familiar to all of us enabled us to talk very understandingly and easily upon the subject. General Potter expressed some doubt as to finding room enough on the right of the covered way to place his troops, of which I was in doubt myself, the general instructions being for General Potter to mass all his troops, if possible, on the right of his covered way, General Willcox to occupy his covered way and such portions of the railroad cut as was necessary, and room to be found between the two for General Ledlie, who had the assaulting column. At all events, there was, as far as I know, a distinct understanding between myself and my division commanders as to the positions to be occupied by the troops. Not that they did finally occupy exactly the positions which I indicated to them, because some of them were immaterially modified by correspondence, I think, between Generals Willcox, Potter, and myself. it is sufficient to say that General Ledlie's troops were massed in about the same position as I had desired to mass