War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0304 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

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Point. It is proper to say in this connection that it afterward appeared my orders were based on incorrect information, and the position I was ordered to take did not exist as it was described on my instructions; Harrison's Creek proved to be inside the enemy's lines and not within miles of where it was laid down on the map with which I was furnished to guide me. The map was found to be utterly worthless, the only roads laid down on it being widely out of the way. Colonel morgan succeeded in obtaining some negro fides, and on his communicating to me the information he had obtained from them. I decided that the speediest way to get to the position I was directed to occupy would by to turn the head of the column from the Prince George court-House road toward old Court-House, and then by a cross-road get behind Harrison's Creek as laid down on the map. None of the inhabitants could or would give any information concerning the location of this creek. Accordingly Birney's and Gibbon's divisions were turned to the right, leaving the Prince George Court-House road, within six miles of Petersburg, before 3 p. m. Barlow's division with the train marched by the Old Court-House on a shorter road, which the head of his column had barely passed. At 5.30 p. m., as the column neared Old Court-House, Birney being about one mile distant, a dispatch from General Grant, addressed to General Gibbon or any division commander of the Second Corps, reached me. This dispatch directed all haste to be made in getting up to the assistance of General Smith, who it stated had attacked Petersburg and carried the outer works in front of that city. A few moments later a note from General Smith was delivered to me by one of his staff, which informed me that he (General Smith) was authorized by Lieutenant General Grant to call upon me for assistance and requesting me to come up as rapidly as passible. Fortunately these dispatches were received just when the head of Birney's division was passing a country road leading directly toward Petersburg, and the column (Birney's and Gibbon's troops) was turned in that direction. No time had been lost on the march during the day although it was excessively hot. The road was covered with clouds of dust, and but little water was found on the route, causing severe suffering among the men.

I desire to say here that the messages from Lieutenant-General Grant and from General Smith, which I received between 5 and 6 p. m. on the 15th, were the first and only intimations I had that Petersburg was to be attacked that day. Up to that hour I had not been notified from any source that I was expected to assist General Smith in assaulting that city. Some artillery firing had been heard for many hours in the direction of Petersburg, and careful inquiry was made during they day of the inhabitants as to its cause, but the only information I could get on the subject was that General Kautz's cavalry, with some artillery, had passed toward Petersburg; I attributed the firing to some reconnaissance or raid by that officer.

I have been particular in describing the incidents of the march of my command on the 15th, because I conceive that undue importance has been attached to the fact that my troops did not arrive in front of Petersburg at an earlier hour on that evening, which has been given as a reason that the city was not taken that evening, and because I believe that the circumstances attending the movements of my troops on that day have never yet been fully explained. I informed the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac on the 15th that I was supplied with rations for one day, and had I then been notified that Petersburg was to be assaulted on the 15th the delay occasioned