of attack, opening roads, and preparing places of arms for the assembling of the supporting columns. Should this attack be make, which, under existing circumstances, I deem the most practicable, it will be necessary to withdraw the Second and Sixth Corps to take part in it, and the left of the Fifth Corps will have to be thrown back for self-protection. A line for this purpose will be prepared in advance, but this will require the giving up the Jerusalem plank road. With your present numbers and existing condition f affairs, I am of the opinion active operations against the enemy in his present position the most advisable, as it leaves our communications open and intact. The movement on the enemy's right flank as suggested is liable to the objection of separating your forces with the enemy between the two parts, with having to abandon the communications of this army, and the danger after crossing the Appomattox that the enemy may be found strongly posted behind Swift Run, requiring further flank movements, more time, further separation from a base, and more hazard in reopening communications, our experience since crossing the Rapidan having proved the facility with which the enemy can interpose to check an onward movement. If we had the force to extend around the south side of the Appomattox I should prefer doing so and employing the cavalry to destroy the enemy's communications. It will take General Burnside over a week to complete his mine and General Sheridan two weeks to get his animals into a serviceable condition.
GEO. G. MEADE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, OFFICE OF THE PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL,
July 4, 1864.
A deserter from the Sixty-first Virginia Regiment, Mahone's old
brigade, of Mahone's division, came into the lines of General Mott's brigade, of General Birney's division, about 5 o'clock this a. m. He states that he had just come out on his post as a sharpshooter and left his brigade in the breast-works; that his division came into position at this point night before last, having returned from an expedition down the railroad. Wilcox's division had been occupying the place vacated by Mahone's division, and they moved down to the right again. It was rumored in camp last night that Ewell was going into Maryland; that he had with him his own corps and the detached forces that have been lately operating in the Valley; that he had loaded his trains with hard bread an had left his baggage at Staunton. Rumors have been afloat for a day or two past that he had taken Arlington Heights and was about to capture the city of Washington. Rations were cut down on the last issue a quarter of a pound on meal, said to be only temporary. Sugar and coffee are issued irregularly. The division stationed on the right of the rebel lines (which is now Wilcox's division) sends a force of at least a brigade to a point on the Weldon railroad known as the Six-Mile House. This force is regularly sent our and relieved. Informant states that Mahone's division is completely tired out and relieved. Informant states that Mahone's division is completely tired out in marching backward and forward down the railroad, and that Wilcox's division is now performing the same duty.
GEORGE H. SHARPE,