JUNE 16, 1864-10.45 p.m.
(Received 12 midnight.)
The exact state of affairs in my front is this: At daybreak this morning the enemy's line was evacuated by the troops defending, it to go to Petersburg, from orders from Beauregard, but to leave a picket-line which should amuse us till Early's division should take their place. By a blunder the pickets were withdrawn on apart of the line. This was endeavor to be corrected about 8 o'clock but our pickets discovered the fact early in the morning, and I ordered an advance long the whole line. This flanked the remaining pickets and all were driven [in] or captured. The railroad being thus open we moved upon it at once, and after throwing out a brigade toward our right to observe the enemy in the direction of Richmond we commenced upon the railroad and have torn up the track for nearly three miles, piling up the ties, burning them with the rails laid over them, and in some places digging down the embankments. About 2 o'clock the enemy appeared in force on our right and drove in our pickets, forcing us back to their line of intrenchments and near the James, back to Ware Bottom Church. If we hold what we have now we can turn their line at any time after Wright's corps, which I have not yet heard of, comes up. I shall have three regiments on picket after I withdraw five regiments, the whole eight being left out on that line to be sure and hold it; but as it leaves too large a force, being nearly one-half of my best men to fight on a picket-line, and endangers the safety of my principal line, I withdraw the five regiments, especially as they have been working and fighting all day. My right is within two miles of the turnpike, over which Lee must march, as the railroad is gone, and within one mile of the gun-boats. We are dropping shells upon it at intervals of once in three minutes, which is the firing you hear.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
June 16, 1864-1.05 p.m. (Received 1.30 p.m.)
Do we or the enemy hold the battery at Howlett's house at the head of the Trent Reach?
S. P. LEE,
JUNE 16, 1864.
We hold the battery and entire line of works.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
JUNE 16, 1864-3.25 p.m.
(Received 4 p.m.)
The enemy are coming down in force and General Terry is withdrawing within his lines. The railroad being destroyed he will have to come