HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
November 2, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the operations of the Fifth Army Corps in the movement on the 27th ultimo. I accompany it by a map* on a scale of four inches a mile, made from our reconnaissances. I have put on it, in red, the supposed position of roads and rivers, as indicated on the map with which we set out. If the operations should ever become a matter of criticism, the study of this map would be of importance in comprehending the difficulties of executing any design, or meeting, expectations previously formed.
I introduce my report with some quotations from the general order of instructions, which will save time:
4. Major-General Parke, commanding Ninth Corps, will move at such hour of the morning of the 27th as will enable him to attack the right of the enemy's infantry, between Hatcher's Run and their new works at Hawks' and Dabney's at the dawn of day. It is probable that the enemy's line of intrenchments is incomplete at that point, and the commanding general expects, by a secret and sudden movement, to surprise them and carry their half-formed works. General Parke will therefore move and attack vigorously at the time named, tot later that 5.30, and, if successful, will follow up the enemy closely, turning toward the right; should he not break the enemy's line, General Parke will remain confronting them until the operations on the left draw off the enemy.
5. Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, will, if practicable, move simultaneously with the Ninth Corps, and proceed to the crossing of Hatcher's Run, below the plank-road bridge, from which point he will support the Ninth Corps, and if the attack is successful, follow up the enemy, moving on the Ninth Corps. Should General Parke fail to break the enemy's line General Warren will cross Hatcher's Run endeavor to turn the enemy's right by recrossing at the first practicable point above the Boydton plank road, keeping on the right of Hancock. He will them turn toward the plank road and open the plank-road bridge.
The being no road known over the country I was expected to operate in between the Ninth and Second Corps, I sent out Major Roebling, who reconnoitered everywhere in that direction, as far as our cavalry picket-line, which, however, was but a short distance out.
Under these circumstances, I issued my instructions to march at 5.30 a. m. on the 27th. The commanding general, however, did not think the hour early enough, and fixed it at 4 a. m. My route was to be to the left of Fort Cummings, through an open field; thence by a wood road, which was to lead to the Duncan road; thence I was to hunt up a road to Hatcher's Run. The command started as directed, about 4 a . m., on the 27th. In consisted, first of the First Division, commanded by Brigadier-General Griffin, 4,707 strong, of which 1,247 were ignorant of the manual, and 2,803 had never fired off a musket. Second, of the Second Division, commanded by Brigadier-General Ayres 4,704 strong, of which 104 were ignorant of the manual, and 812 had never fired off a musket. Third, of two brigades of the Third Division, commanded by Brigade Crawford, of which 298 were ignorant of the manual, and 298 had never fired off a musket. The Artillery Brigade was composed of there batteries of light 12-pounders (14 guns) and two batteries of 3-inch rifles (10 guns). The men carried sixty rounds of ammunition and four days' rations. Half our ambulances and our intrenching tools accompanied us. The ammunition wagons, with our reserve supplies, remained in camp, which was defended in my front by General Baxter's brigade, about 2, 500 strong, and eight batteries, comprising 34 guns. All our transportation and baggage were sent to City Point.
* See p. 435