The following answer was returned:
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
August 24, 1864-11 p. m.
Your dispatch is received. The signal officer does not say how many men he observed, nor the time. If the enemy have sent any considerable force to operate against me, I do not care about separating my force so far. Rowanty is now reported by citizens to be eight miles from here.
WINF'D S. HANCOCK,
In reply I was informed that the number of the enemy was estimated as 8,000 or 10.000, and the time of leaving their works about sunset.
A copy of a dispatch from General Warren to General Humphreys was also furnished me, and is here inserted:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
August 24, 1864-9 a. m.
I have received your report of the signal officer. This force may be only working parties going out. All the prisoners I sent you to-day say they are working on a new line all along. I feel certain if they have gone out it is to interfere with General Hancock. They cannot do anything with me here.
G. K. WARREN,
At daylight of the 25th General Miles relieved the pickets of the Second Division, but the order for the work on the railroad was postponed until the result of the reconnaissances General Gregg had been directed to make could be ascertained. The enemy's cavalry pickets were derived in at two points on the Vaughan road and no indications of any increase of force developed. At 6 a. m. the following dispatch was sent to General Humphreys, chief of staff:
On account of the information you gave me last night, I have concluded not to send General Gibbon's division out to work this morning until I have satisfied myself that such a force is not in my immediate vicinity. I shall send out and see how far I can clear the roads to my right and front this morning. There are important roads coming in from the estate road between Reams' and where the working party would go, I consider my force too small to separate such a distance until sure that the enemy's infantry is not in my front.
WINF'D S. HANCOCK.
When this was written it was intended to send out a brigade of cavalry, supported by infantry, but on the receipt of the reports from the squadrons sent out by General Gregg, it was determined to send General Gibbon's division out to work, so as to lose no time that could be avoided. The division accordingly started, but had hardly gotten out of the entrenchments when a report was received from Colonel Spear that the enemy were advancing on him in force. He was very soon driven away from the cross-roads. General Gibbon deployed a heavy skirmish line on the right of the road to Stony Creek and advanced against the enemy, developing the fact that his cavalry was supported by infantry. While the skirmishing was going on here a part of the enemy's cavalry passed to my left and rear, breaking through General Gregg's picket-line, then running from Reams' to Gary's Church, on the plank road. They were speedily driven back by a regiment of cavalry and a small force from General Miles' division. At this juncture it was deemed prudent to recall General Gibbon's division, and he took post
*See Hancock to Meade, October 16, 1865, p. 230.