yesterday's operations the lowest estimate of the enemy's force made by prisoners and deserters is 6,000, and called suddenly, as our troops were, without time to draw in pickets and detachments, I question whether the combined command that went in pursuit amounted to 3,000. With this superiority and a knowledge of the country and preparations made to stop pursuit, it is hardly fair to expect much more than what was accomplished, though I hoped the difficulty of driving the cattle and the chances of war might be more favorable to us. There is nothing else to report up to this hour. General Birney has just telegraphed that a scout in this morning reports Hoke's division withdrawn from his front and that it has gone to General Lee at Reams' Station. This may mean General W. H. F. Lee, commanding cavalry, and to cover the withdrawal of the cavalry, or it may be part of an offensive movement.
GEO. G. MEADE,
CITY POINT, September 17, 1864-1 p. m.
Yesterday evening the battalion of Government employes in Richmond were ordered to assemble this morning with the understanding that they would be sent to Petersburg. Reports will shortly be sent you.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
September 19, 1864.
COLONEL: About 7 a. m., on the 16th instant, Brigadier-General Kautz reported that at daylight that morning his pickets, extending from the Blackwater to the James, had been attacked and driven in, and that the enemy in force had advanced on the Powhatan road, cutting off the First District of Columbia Cavalry, stationed at Sycamore Church. General Kautz was not apprised of the character of the enemy's forces beyond the presence of cavalry and artillery, nor of the object of the movement. About the time these dispatches were received one of the cattle herders from the camp near Coggins' Point reported to Colonel Wilson, chief commissary of subsistence, Army of the Potomac, that at daylight the camp had been attacked; that he had managed to escape; but before making his escape, he had seen the enemy busily employed seizing and driving off the herd. I likewise heard that the herd, instead of being at Coggins' Point, was two miles beyond it, in the vicinity of Sycamore Church, and about two miles only inside the picket-line. This information convinced me the enemy's object was the seizure of this herd by a coup de amain, which had evidently been successful; and being satisfied they would retire as rapidly as possible, there was nothing to be done but to make an effort to cut off their retreat, attack at all hazard, and perhaps a portion of the herd might be recovered. As this was a question of time, orders were sent to General Kautz to pursue with every available mounted man he could collect,