HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS, In the Field, Va., June 28, 1864.
Chief of Staff, Armies of the United States:
(Through Department Headquarters.)
GENERAL: The major-general commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina having done me the honor to forward to me a copy of his indorsement on a letter to you of the 26th instant, with reference to the colored troops, I deem it due to myself and the interests of the service, which I was honestly endeavoring to promote, to forward, for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding, communications upon the subject from Brigadier-General Hinks, commanding colored division, and Captain Choate, commanding colored battery, with a brief statement of my own.* My field return of the 23rd instant had in it a clerical error, in which one of General Hinks' brigades was twice counted, which will account for the discrepancy mentioned. In my letter to you I made the assertion therein contained, giving no authority and therefore taking the responsibility as to the correctness of the statement upon myself, therefore the major-general commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina had no warrant for his assertion that my statement was based upon that of my chief of artillery. With reference to Captain Elder I have to remark that he has been hard at work night and day since my arrival here, and from the best information that I can gather his aberration was due to his exposure during the entire day to the extreme heat of the sun. The accompanying papers will show to the lieutenant-general commanding my authority for the statement I have made. That testimony may be corroborated by my own observations on the field of battle. I would particularly call attention to the statement of General Hinks with reference to the Fifth Massachusetts Colored Cavalry (dismounted), and the part of the action in which that regiment was engaged. I did not propose in my letter to entirely break up the two white divisions of the Eighteenth Corps, or to have white regiments transferred from a corps where they were well contented to a corps where they had no associations and to which, as I learn, have expressed no disposition to go. But if the reorganization which I have proposed to the lieutenant-general should be adopted, and that reorganization should carry with it the disorganization of the two white divisions of the corps, I would rest satisfied, thinking the General-in-Chief judged it best for the interest of the service.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. F. SMITH,
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS, In the Field, Va., June 27, 1864.
Major General W. F. SMITH,
Commanding Eighteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: In accordance with your wishes, verbally communicated to me, I have the honor to submit the following remarks and suggestions relative to the condition of my command that have occurred to
*Choate's communication not found.