the 15th was that the Second Corps did not arrive upon the field at the proper time. I concluded, however, to let the matter rest, hoping that Petersburg would be taken subsequently by the vehement efforts of the Second and other corps, and not desiring to agitate the question as to whether it should have been carried on the 15th or not. To-day I have seen an article taken from the New York Times, dated June 21, 1864, in reference to the same subject, in which it would appear that the operation was to have been a joined effort between the Second and Eighteenth Corps, and that the reason that the town was not carried was that the Second Corps did not arrive in time. There are erroneous statements in this article prejudicial to my command and to myself, and although were faults committed that day which would fall upon my subordinates, I claim that, if Petersburg was garrisoned at that time only as is now believed, that it should have been captured by the Eighteenth Corps, which was directed to assault the town, with, I believe, 15,000 men, and certainly with the assistance of the two divisions of the Second Corps which I offered to General Smith just after dark on the 15th, these two divisions being then massed at Bryant's
house on the left and rear of General Hinks' division, about one mile from General Smith's front line. Had I arrived before dark, and been able to have seen the ground myself, I should have taken decisive action; but not knowing anything of the locality, nor what portion of the works General Smith had carried (for at the time of my arrival he did not know precisely himself what portion of the enemy's works were occupied by his troops), and relying upon his judgment, and desiring not to interfere with his honors, as he was directed to take the place, I offered my advance troops to him, to use according to his knowledge and discretion, he having seen the position in daylight. General Smith requested me to relieve the greater portion of his line in order to prevent an attempt to retake the works the enemy. He stated to me at the time of my interview him that he believed the enemy to have been re-enforced during the evening. My troops completely established themselves in position on the front line, relieving General Smith's troops, before midnight.
At 12.25 a. m. on the 16th, understanding the necessity of driving the enemy across the Appomattox before morning, I issued an order with that intent. This order was not executed for reasons which may be explained by an investigation. Had I been in perfect health, and able to endure all the fatigues incident to the march, I might have corrected many errors that were committed; but as I know that every effort was made to carry out the views of the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, and of the lieutenant-general commanding the Armies of the United States, by the Second Corps, so far as I was concerned, and as there appears to be an improper attempt to place the failure to capture Petersburg on the 15th on my command, I respectfully ask for an investigation on this subject.
I received more than one communication from Lieutenant-General Grant on that which were erroneously based, but I did not reply to them, as I was directing all my efforts to get my command to the desired point. These facts can be shown at any moment by orders and telegrams in my possession, but after the occurrences had passed I did not think it necessary to reply to them in detail.
I am preparing copies of the orders and instructions received by me on the 15th, with a statement of the action taken, which I will forward.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WINF'D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.