War of the Rebellion: Serial 081 Page 0479 Chapter LII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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opinion of General Turner that we can throw cut a force across the dike, and thence between Ashton Swamp and Swift Creek. But over this narrow dike it would take a long time to get even a single corps over with its artillery. I proposed a bridge opposite Port Walthall, but General Smith thinks the island in the river will render this impracticable, as it will required corduroy. To act by a heavy force then would seem to require a combined front and flank attack, and we could hardly count on its being a surprise. It seems to me the best use we can make of Hancock's and Warren's corps is to put them across the Weldon railroad. The line now held from Smith's right to where it intersects the rebel fortifications near Avery's is about two miles and a half. If Smith carries the point in front of Hare's this length may be shortened. This portion is now held by Smith, Burnside, and a part of Warren's corps. It ought to be held easily by the two first. It is a short line for 25,000 or 30,000 well-intrenched men to hold; indeed, it ought to be held by 20,000 men. Its left rests on the old works of the enemy. The position should be tenable even without close connection with the rest of the army. From its left (where I indicated before) some of our 30-pounders would enfilade the enemy's position confronting our present position. Warren's corps might be put on the Jerusalem turnpike to form a connection, and Hancock and Wright, making a detour, come up on the roads parallel to the Weldon road, taking the first strong position, connecting as nearly as possible with Warren. If the right as far as Avery's can be held by 20,000 men we ought to have, independent of cavalry, 60,000 or 70,000 men available for extending. When the left is once well established on the Weldon road, and well intrenched, we ought still to have force available for other operations.

Respectfully, &c.,


NOTE.-In calling "too hazardous" the throwing over of a portion of the army above or below Petersburg, I take into consideration that, from the difficulties of the country, &c., that portion might be beaten; and it is evident while Lee is at Petersburg we cannot throw the whole army across.


Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:

The railroad is in running order over four miles from this point. The construction party is now changing the gauge of the old road to suit our cars. We have about 1,000 lineal feet, comprising over 30,000 square feet of wharfing, now completed. The railroad track runs the entire length of the wharves. Work will commence on sheds and store-houses at once; meantime supplies are abundant. A depot for forage and subsistence is established on the railroad about five miles out, where issues will be made after to-morrow.


Brigadier-General and Chief Quartermaster.