War of the Rebellion: Serial 081 Page 0584 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

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SPECIAL ORDERS,

HDQRS. ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

Numbers 46.

City Point, Va., July 2, 1864.

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III. The Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Infantry Volunteers is hereby assigned to the Ninth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, and will report accordingly.

T. S. BOWERS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Memorandum.

JULY 2, 1864.

The army having failed in the purpose of holding the Weldon road, is now lying without any definite object. Smith's and Burnside's corps are lying in trenches close up to the enemy, carrying on a quasi siege-not decided enough to accomplish anything, but by heat and sharpshooters losing men every day. The other three corps are stretched out in a line, which neither supports the other two, or is supported by them, or controls the enemy's communications. This state of things might last for a few days, but not for several weeks, which must elapse before the Nineteenth Corps can arrive. Several propositions have been made or talked of. One is to withdraw the right (i. e., Smith and Burnside) to the line of rebel forts. We have spilt too much blood in getting where we are; and, besides, the new line must in some way be extended down to the river, making it much longer than it is now. Another is to withdraw the left (making part of it a reserve to the rest), taking a line along or near the Norfolk road. This too, would abandon ground we have dearly bought. Another is, to again swing our left around to the Weldon road, covering our left with cavalry. This would make a long line-six miles-concave to the enemy, who might throw himself on any point, or turn our left, while attacking our center. The left would be too decidedly exposed. Another proposition, which would have great merit in my mind if it were practicable, would be to throw 15,000 or 20,000 men over the Appomattox between Petersburg and the mouth of Swift Creek. But this is not practicable, unless a crossing can be found, where a bridge can be thrown with great rapidity, and General Smith has satisfied himself that there is no such point. Another proposition is, to assault the salient of the enemy's position near where our front line intersects the old line of works. We are now close up to the plateau, or ridge, over which the Jerusalem road enters Petersburg. If we can gain that plateau I do not believe Petersburg can be held any longer. A little west of the Jerusalem road, and behind the enemy's old line (which I believe now to be his rear of defense), is an elevated swell. If we can break through near the salient and reach this point we take all his position facing Smith and Burnside in reverse, and we occupy a point from which we look down into the city. It is useless to talk about any operation of this kind, however, if it is to consist in merely ordering corps commanders, "to assault." The most careful arrangements, based upon survey and study of the ground, combined action of the corps, principally directed in heavy masses upon the salient (while demonstration are made elsewhere), and, above all, the powerful concentration of artillery, can give reasonable certainty to the operation. Meade's army (occupying a stronger position than the enemy holds) was assailed by 150 guns and their columns hurled upon his left center. This is the kind of operation which we must