AUGUST 21, 1864.
Rebel message received 11.30 a.m.:
O. O., Colonel B., and A. B.:
Since the smoke cleared, as near I can see to the left of Cobb's crossing pontoon, and also along the bridge road, I noticed a large number of stragglers passing going toward Petersburg, which led me to think a division or corps had passed during the night. Two companies of cavalry passed along the military road going toward City Point. General Thomas' sharpshooters made the same report.
Sergeant at C.
AUGUST 21, 1864-10.35 p.m.
Major General B. F. BUTLER:
I would respectfully state that in answer to your inquiry the signal officer at Crow's Nest, Water Battery, tower, and Spring Hill report that they have observed no movements or indications of movements of enemy to-day.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
L. B. NORTON,
Captain and Chief Signal Officer.
HEADQUARTERS TENTH ARMY CORPS, August 21, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
I have the honor to announce my return with my troops to old camp during the night. I was left to protect the crossing of Generals Hancock's and Gregg's troops.
D. B. BIRNEY,
AUGUST 21, 1864-8 p.m.
It being now quite certain that the enemy have withdrawn very largely in front of our line between the James and Appomattox for the purpose of giving battle to General Warren, on the Weldon road, below Petersburg, it is thought expedient that we should make the attempt to pierce their lines in this front. For that purpose you will take, say 4,000 of your best troops and passing on to the plain near Port Walthall will,just before day, say 3.30 a.m., move upon the enemy's lines between if found practicable. From the point at the old mill-pond near the picke-line by us, it would be well to send off, say two regiments or a brigade of not more than 800 men, to move with vigor up the road that leads to the left, at the same time to make a vigorous attack in the nature of a feint on the right, near Ware Bottom Church, so that the enemy shall be held in check there. This