HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, Va, July 24, 1864.
Major General G. G. MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
GENERAL: The engineer officers who made a survey of the front from Bermuda Hundred report against the probability of success from an attack there. The chances, they think, will be better on Burnside's front. If this is attempted it will be necessary to concentrate all the force possible at the point in the enemy's line we expect to penetrate. All officers should be fully impressed with the absolutely necessity of pushing entirely beyond the enemy's present line if they should succeed in penetrating it, and of getting back to their present line promptly if they should not succeed in breaking through. To the right and left of the point of assault all the artillery possible should be brought to play upon the enemy in front during the assault. Thin lines would be sufficient for the support of the artillery, and all the reserves could be brought on the flanks of their commands nearest to the point of assault, ready to follow in if successful. The field artillery and infantry held in the lines during the first assault should be in readiness to move at a moment's notice, either to their front or to follow the main assault, as they should receive orders. One thing, however, should be impressed on corps commanders: If they see the enemy giving away on their front or moving from it to re-enforce a heavily assailed portion of their line they should take advantage of such knowledge and act promptly without waiting for orders from army commanders. General Ord can co-operate with his corps in this movement, and about 5,000 troops from Bermuda Hundred can be sent to re-enforce you, or can be used to threaten an assault between the Appomattox and James Rivers, as may be deemed best. This should be done by Tuesday morning, if done at all. If not attempted, we will then start at the date indicated to destroy the railroad as far as Hickford, at least, and to Weldon, if possible. Please give me your views on this matter and I will order at once. In this I have said nothing of the part to be taken by the cavalry in case the enemy's lines are assaulted. The best disposition to make of them probably would be to place them on the extreme left, with instructions to skirmish with the enemy and drive him back, if possible, following up any success gained in that way according to the judgment of the commander or orders he may receive. Whether we send an expedition on the road or assault at Petersburg Burnside's mine will be blown up. As it is impossible to hide preparations from our own officers and men, and consequently from the enemy, it will be well to have it understood as far as possible that just the reverse of what we intend is in contemplation.
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 24, 1864.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:
GENERAL: I have received your letter, per Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock. In reply thereto I have to state I, yesterday, made a close and
*For version of this letter, as submitted with the report of the Court of Inquiry on the Mine Explosion, see Part I, p. 129.