respective duties. To the gallant soldiers in the rank and file, who for six months have been unwearied in their labors by night as well as by day, the country owes a debt of gratitude it will be difficult to repay; and when the record in detail shall be made for the period indicated, I feel satisfied the remark I made in the commencement of this report will be fully verified, and impartial judges will pronounce that, for the number and severity of the battles, the length of the marches, the continuous and never intermitted labors in the trenches and on fatigue duties, for the sad list of casualties, and for the result attained, this campaign stands unparalleled in the annals of war, whether ancient or modern.
Very respectfully, your obedient serv.
GEO. G. MEADE,
Lieutenant Colonel T. S. BOWERS,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
September 17, 1864-2 p. m.
GENERAL: I send you the reports of Generals Davies and Kautz, in command of the cavalry sent in pursuit of the enemy, by which you will find the enemy was prepared for any attempt on our part to recapture the cattle.* The distance to be marched-over fifteen miles in Davies' case and thirty in Kautz's-would have prevented any infantry force from reaching the scene of action in time. This consideration, together with the undeveloped movements of the enemy toward his right and my left, prevented me from detaching any considerable force of infantry to aid in the attempt to recover the cattle. These movements have been previously reported, being the moving of a considerable body of infantry and artillery on the Boydton plank road on the 15the instant, the return of which is as yet unknown. In addition, deserters, particularly one from the north side of the James River, state it was reported by their officers that Lee was making a great flank movement, and to-day Colonel Sharpe sends information (dispatch transmitted) that the Government employes in Richmond had been ordered to Petersburg. Yesterday, I informed you, signal officer north of the Appomattox reported the movement into Petersburg of troops on the Richmond road, and a deserter stated he had about the same time seen troops marching through Petersburg, said to be a part of Early's force, who it was stated had sent back 6,000 troops. There may be nothing in all this, but so many reports from different sources would lead to the conclusion that some movement is on foot; whether it be offensive, or whether it is seeing in our journals the reports of large accessions daily received by this army, Lee is merely preparing for an anticipated extension of our lines, I am unable to say, but the existence of these reports and the movements known have combined to produce caution on my part during your absence. I deem it proper to call your attention to the small force of cavalry under my command. For ordinary purposes and were the enemy without cavalry it would be ample, but in the presence of the enemy's superior forces this arm of the service is unable to accomplish anything. In
* See Part II, pp. 891, 896.
3 R R-VOL XLII, PT I