To send such re-enforcements they should try to cripple us here. They must feel themselves as strong now as they will be with the return of Early's corps, besides time is pressing them. I am just in receipt of dispatches to 11 p.m. last night from Sherman in answer to mine cautioning him of the danger of Johnston's being re-enforced from here. He says that he is not at all alarmed if Johnston should get 20,000 re-enforcements, if he will only come out and attack. If you have not done so, I think it advisable to notify Sheridan to be in readiness to take the saddle with his cavalry if he hears heavy firing in your front, and to push to the front in that case without further orders.
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 17, 1864-10 p.m.
The following dispatch has been confirmed by several other deserters coming from different parts of the line. Your telegram of 9.30 [9.20] received. Orders were sent to Burnside and Warren to follow up any repulse they might make, and Hancock is in readiness to support in any contingency. The orders suggested by you will be immediately sent to Sheridan. If any attack is made it will probably be a general one at several points, but I should expect the heaviest to be by Hill's corps, attempting to turn my left flank. I most earnestly hope they will try the experiment, for I think it will relieve us greatly.
GEO. G. MEADE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
OFFICE OF PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL, July 17, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: A deserter from the Forty-fourth Alabama, Law's brigade, Hood's old division, of Longstreet's corps, has just been received. He left about 5 o'clock this p.m. He states that all the troops in his division have two days' rations in haversack and four in wagon; that an attack is ordered to be made on our lines to night; that they have been at work for the past few days clearing out a ravine between their works and skirmish line, where the attacking column is to be massed; that this a.m. General Field, with four brigadier-generals and the colonel of the Forty-fourth Alabama Regiment, visited the skirmish line to make observations. Informant was near by and overheard much of the conversation. They had glasses and were examining our works. The point they visited is a commanding one, with a good view of our lines. The colonel of the Forty-fourth Alabama remarked to General Field that he would be seen moving from our lines. General Field replied that that would be time enough. Informant corroborates previous statements of deserters to-day concerning the position of Longstreet's corps. McLaws' division is to the left of Field's, two brigades in line and two in reserve. Pickett is on the north side of the river.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNumbers C. BABCOCK.