What has become of nearly 3,000 of these troops in three days? As to Choate's colored battery, it has been well drilled and highly spoken of. I know its commander is a good officer, and he has expressed confidence in his men. In your dispatch of the 23d, upon the authority of your chief of artillery, you reported the colored battery inefficient. But as that officer is of that class who do not trust any colored troops, and has since proved his own inefficiency by deliberately riding into the enemy's lines in a fit of drunken or other delirium, as I am informed, and been captured by them, I am not inclined to base much official action on his judgment. It can hardly be true, in fact, that the three regiments of colored cavalry are yet undrilled in loading, their muskets, as one of these regiments was in the charge for which you have publicly so highly complimented the colored troops, and took the works they were ordered to do. If these are not to be depended upon you have few colored troops that can be. Much as I value General Hinks' services, and I yield to no man in my appreciation of them, i should hardly advise the disorganization of his division because of his loss. If, however, the lieutenant-general chooses to carry out a suggestion made by him several days since, and giving to General Burnside the troops of the Ninth Army Corps, which are now in this department in the Eighteenth Corps, and giving us General Ferrero's division instead, as you seem to desire this change for the purpose of consolidating the colored troops, I will not object. Supposing, however, until now that this was against you wish I have objected, but will now withdraw it and allow the change to be made so far as it rests with me. As you are intrenching before Petersburg, as you suggest, you will find these good troops to hold intrenchments. I will forward a copy of this note to the chief of staff of the commanding general, so that he may have our views before him at the same time, although as a rule I would not send forward such communications without an interchange of views.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
JUNE 26, 1864-11.10 a. m.
Major General W. F. SMITH,
Your dispatch received. Colonel Warner is on a court-martial and is too ill for duty. If you will apply to General Meade for him I will send Colonel McGilvery, Maine Light Artillery, to you. He is a good officer. Have you got any Coehorn mortars? I asked for six for your corps before leaving Cold Harbor. They have arrived at City Point. You cannot get a better officer for siege guns and mortars than Colonel Gibson, Second Pennsylvania Artillery.
HENRY J. HUNT,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Artillery.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS, June 26, 1864.
[Major General W. F. SMITH:]
GENERAL: I find that my health and strength will not permit me to give that personal attention to the conduct of my division that its inchoate condition requires, and, from the nature of my disability, I do