HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS.
July 3, 1864.
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
I have delayed answering your dispatch until I could get the opinion of my division commanders and have another reconnaissance of the lines made by one of my staff. If my opinion is required as to whether now is the best time to make an assault (it being understood that if not made the siege is to continue) I should unhesitatingly say wait until the mine is finished. If the question is between making the assault now and a change of plan looking to operations in other quarters I should unhesitatingly say assault now. If the assault be delayed until the completion of the mine I think we should have a more than even chance of success. If the assault be made now I think we have a fair chance of success, provided my corps can make the attack and it is left to me to say when and how the other two corps shall come in to my support.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Major-General, Commanding Ninth Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
July 3, 1864.
Major-General BURNSIDE, Commanding Ninth Corps:
GENERAL: Your not by Major Lyding has been received. As you are of the opinion there is a reasonable degree of probability of success from an assault in your front I shall so report to the lieutenant-general commanding and await his instructions. The recent operations in your front, as you are aware, though sanctioned by me, did not originate in any orders from these headquarters. Should, however, it be determined to employe the army under my command in offensive operations on your front I shall exercise the prerogative of my position to control and direct the same, receiving gladly at all times such suggestions as you may think proper to make. I consider these remarks necessary in consequence of certain conditions which you have thought proper to attach to your opinion, acceding to which in advance would not in my judgment be consistent with my position as commanding general of this army. I have accordingly directed Major Duane, chief engineer, and Brigadier-General Hunt, chief of artillery, to make an examination of your lines, and to confer with you as to the operations to be carried on-the running of the mine now in progress and the posting of artillery. It is desirable as many guns as possible bearing on the point to be assaulted should be placed in position. I agree with you in opinion the assault should be deferred till the mine is completed, provided that can be done in a reasonably short period-say a week. Roads should be opened to the rear to facilitate the movements of the other corps sent to take part in the action and all the preliminary arrangements possible should be made. Upon the reports of my engineer and artillery officers the necessary orders will be given.
GEO. G. MEADE.
11 R R-VOL XL, PT I