and whilst waiting for orders I directed the command to be massed in a field near where some negro batteries were parked. Here I received information that I was to form on General Birney's left. His division was then moving to the left, and I followed after the head of his column some half a mile to ascertain where his left was to rest and then returned to my command with the expectation of receiving some definite order. After waiting some one or two hours I received an order from General Hancock to move to the front, under your guidance, and relieve a portion of General Smith's troops. It being at night, and the troops very tired, this operation was a very slow one, and my division was not in position until between 2 and 3 o'clock. Heavy picket-firing was going on in my immediate front during a portion of the time. The troops relieved by me were a portion of the Eighteenth Corps. Some time between this time and daylight I received the order marked B.* As I could not determine in the dark whether any points, such as those described, existed in my front I was compelled to wait for daylight, when an examination proved that in my front no such points as described in the order existed. I know of no orders received from Major-General Hancock on the night of the 15th or morning of the 16th which "were not executed." Had there been such I should certainly have expected to have been brought to an account for it at the time.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS, June 28, 1864.
Respectfully referred to Major Mitchell, aide-de-camp, who conducted General Gibbon's column, to relieve General Smith's troops on the night referred to, for a statement as to what hour General Gibbon's troops arrived at the intrenchments of General Smith, and at what hour General Smith's troops were relieved by General Gibbon.
By command of Major-General Hancock:
FRANCIS A. WALKER,
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, June 28, 1864.
On the night of the 15th of June I was directed by Major-General Hancock to conduct General Gibbon's division to the intrenchments in front of Petersburg, where it was to relieve a portion of the Eighteenth Corps. My belief is that the division arrived at the intrenchments occupied by General Smith's troops about 11.30 p. m. The division was formed in rear of the rifle-pits which it was to occupy, and the relief of the troops of the Eighteenth Corps had commenced before I returned to corps headquarters, which was at 12.25 a. m. I do not know at what hour General Gibbon's division was fully established in the intrenchments.
W. G. MITCHELL,
Major and Aide-de-Camp.
* See 12.25 a. m., p.93.