by waiting for rations at Wind-Mill Point would have been immaterial; but notwithstanding that delay I could have joined General Smith by marching directly toward him at Petersburg by 4 p. m. I was even, as I have before mentioned, at a point six miles from that city on the Prince George Court-House road at 3 p. m.
My troops received no rations until the 16th, when they occupied the works in front of Petersburg, the rations having been sent to City Point. I spent the best hours of the day on the 15th in marching by an incorrect map in search of a designated position, which, as described, was not in existence or could not be found.
When Birney and Gibbon turned off toward Petersburg, orders were sent to General Barlow to march toward the same point by the nearest route from Old Court-House, but by some misapprehension his division took the City Point road and was not brought up to Petersburg until daylight the next morning. As soon as Lieutenant-General Grant's note, directing me to hasten to the assistance of General Smith, reached me, I sent my chief of staff to inform General Smith of the whereabouts of my column, and to assure him that I was marching to his support with all dispatch. At 6.30 p. m. the head of Birney's division had arrived at the Bryant house, on Bailey's Creek, about one mile in rear of the position of Hinks' division, of the Eighteenth Corps. Leaving Birney and Gibbon instructions to move forward as soon as they could ascertain at what point their assistance was required, I rode forward to the field, where I met General Smith, who described to me the operations of the day, and pointed out as well as he could in the dusk of the evening the position of the enemy's lines he had carried. I now informed him that two divisions of my troops were close at hand and ready for any further movements which in his judgment and knowledge of the field should be made. General Smith requested me to relieve his troops in the front line of works which he had carried, so that the enemy should encounter fresh should they attempt their recapture. He was then of the opinion that the enemy had been reenforced during the evening. In accordance with this request, I at once directed Birney and Gibbon to move up and occupy the captured earth-works from the Friend house, on the right, to the Dunn house, on the left of the Prince George road. By the time this movement was completed it was 11 p. m., too late and dark for any immediate advance. At midnight I instructed Generals Birney and Gibbon that if any commanding points were held by the enemy between their positions and the Appomattox they should be attacked and taken at or before daylight. I was extremely anxious that all the ground between my line and the river should be in our possession before the enemy could get his heavy re-enforcements up. These instructions were not promptly complied with, and it was not until about 6 a. m. on the 16th that Generals Birney and Gibbon advanced to reconnoiter the ground in their front, by which time the enemy had moved a considerable body of fresh troops on the field, had occupied the large redoubt and rifle-pits in front of the Avery house, and had greatly strengthened their positions at all important points. During this first advance on the morning of the 16th, Egan's brigade, of Birney's division, made a spirited attack upon the enemy, who held a small redoubt on Birney's which was carried by Egan in his usual intrepid manner. Barlow's division arrived on the field about daylight, and took position on Birney's left, extending toward the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad.
Between the hours of 11 and 12 on the night of the 15th, after Birney and Gibbon had relieved the troops of General Smith on his front line,
20 R R-VOL XL, PT I