War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0798 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

Search Civil War Official Records

to do so; but I advised against it, as the enemy had had ample time to make all preparations for us, which they had done, and I felt assured they would sustain a very heavy loss and accomplish nothing. At this time orders were received from General Lee for me to report to him in company with General Field, who abandoned the attack after hearing the position of affairs. My troops, who were in advance of the intrenchments, could not return until night, as they would have been exposed to a heavy fire of the enemy from their intrenchments, which were about 400 yards in advance of those occupied by our men.

A report of the casualties has been forwarded.

I was very much troubled at the loss of my men, who did their duty truly and nobly, without results which appeared to me certain, and surely ought to have been reaped.

It is not my desire to place blame or responsibility on any one (for I fear neither) in making the foregoing statements, but merely give facts to the best of my knowledge, after which the commanding general may draw his own conclusions, as I have unofficially learned that both I and my command were censured by the commanding general. My regret is in attempting the attack without full command of all the forces which were to participate. Both the plan of battle and of attack were good, but failed in the execution. The enemy became extremely uneasy along his entire line when the attack was made, and had we been successful at that point our results would have been such as have not been hitherto attained.

No other portion of my command was engaged except the three regiments of Hagood's brigade on the left of the City Point road, whose action is given in detail in the inclosed report.* The plan of battle was such that no part of my command could participate except those mentioned. General Hagood did everything in his power to give us success, and desired to push forward when in my judgment it appeared hazardous.

Very respectfully,

R. F. HOKE,

Major-General.

Captain JOHN M. OTEY,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[First indorsement.]

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF N. CAROLINA AND SOUTHERN VA., July 5, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded to General Robert E. Lee for his information.

It will be seen by the reports of Generals Hoke and Hagood that they are not to blame for the failure of the attack of the 24th ultimo, which would have been undoubtedly successful had the supports advanced in time. General Hoke is mistaken if he refers to me when he says, "I have learned unofficially that I and my command were censured by the commanding general." I stated only that "the success would have been most brilliant had the skirmishers been properly supported." His report and that of General Hagood prove the correctness of my assertion. General Hoke says on the second page of his report:

After the lapse of five minutes the fire of these guns (i. e., forty-four guns on the northern side of the Appomattox) was directed on the batteries of the enemy, drawing in a great degree their fire from the advancing infantry, which, as far as I could see, was the only service rendered by our guns. Indeed, I fear we were injured more than we gained by the use of our guns, as it notified the enemy of our intended attack.

---------------

*See p. 802.

---------------