JULY 29, 1864 - 8 p. m.
DEAR SIR: As you have already learned, General Hancock has been ordered to move in another direction. This will leave a vastly superior force in your front, which may, probably will, attempt to assault your works and to carry them by superior numbers. In a military sense, the worth of a post is only what it my cost the enemy to take, it as it is axiomatic that all posts and garrison places may be taken at some cost. Now, then, you will have, if the revels attack you, a gallant defense. Make it cost them all your post is worth. A good defense, when with loss, is better than an attempted retreat. Surrender I know you never will. Nay, more you will lose less men in a defense, however protracted and deadly, than your will in a retreat. It they do attack you, every moment you hold out costs them hours on the left, and aids general Grant's moment in the most essential manner. You can and will hold them, and for your courage and conduct I shall be most happy to bear the fullest testimony.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
KEEP BOTTOM, VA., July 29, 1864.
Commanding Second Corps:
GENERAL: I am to be left alone here after the withdrawal of your forces, and will doubtless be subjected to and attack in force by the enemy some time to-morrow. It is necessary for me to do some more intrenching on this side and to furnish a heavy detail to build the second pontoon bridge to-night, besides rebuilding the one that connects my post with the opposite side of the river after it has been used by your troops. I have, therefore, the honor to ask you if you will order a detail from your troops to demolish the line of intrenchments outside of the oak tree, and one, also, to strengthen and raise the parapet of the small inner line, which I propose to hold as long as I can. If you can furnish me the assistance I will be very much indebted to you.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. S. FORSTER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding U. S. Forces, Deep Bottom, Va.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, July 29, 1864.
GENERAL: The enemy are now advancing on my extreme right; I do not know with what force. I will cheerfully do what you desire, except that my troops may not be permitted to remain here long enough. I would like to see you at dark and then we can decide the matter. I think, however, you had better be prepared to perform the work in case I cannot.
Your obedient servant,
WINF'D S. HANCOCK,