War of the Rebellion: Serial 088 Page 1036 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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unnecessary, and should not have been made. That the experience of this army shows that the authority to use any part of a dismantled house or building for the personal convenience of the troops is equivalent to authorizing the wholesale destruction of every unoccupied building, and such authority will not therefore be given, nor will the appropriation to personal use of any furniture, whatever its condition, be allowed.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,

City Point, Va., September 26, 1864.

Major General A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge your note of this date, in which you inform me that the commanding general considers that the communications with Lieutenant-General Grant, which I have reported in me letter of yesterday, "were irregular, unnecessary, and should not have been made." I beg you to assure the commanding general that I regret this extremely, and to assure him that nothing was farther from my intentions that to do anything irregular or improper, or that he would disapprove. And perhaps I was led into the mistake by the mistake be the fact that in each of these two instances, occurring recently with General Meade, he has alluded to the directs that had been given me by General Grant, and my, of course, direct communication with him at times, but not in any terms at all of disapproval, as I understood him, especially as I mentioned to him the direct orders sent me (as by Major Barstow of June 18, 12.30 p. m.), to "report your (my) presence at City Point to Lieutenant-General Grant," which I did on my arrival, and as I supposed was General Meade's intention that General Grant might be able to give me orders direct when necessary. I even thought during the conversation of exp[laining this] to General Meade in hopes that I might not be misunderstood in future on account of any such direct communication, but his manner did not lead me to think this could be necessary. The report about the building, &c., I made to General Grant, supposing there might be some general rules for all the armies here in such matters, which I could learn more speedily there. I would mention other cases here in which I have this communication, which I still will trust that General Meade will approve, as they were to me indispensable to safety here in my present duties.

Upon my finding I could not obtain any mounted men to picket in advance of my infantry one Bailey's Creek, for which you will recollect I applied to you, and when Colonel Gates notified me that by General Patrick's order he muster withdraw his mounted men from that position, he suggested an application to General Grant (as he said he said he had sometimes asked) for some of the Fifth Regular Cavalry. I accordingly made the application. I deemed mounted men in my front to be indispensable. General Grant's reply, as reported to me, was that I did not need them, as Kautz's cavalry was well in front (as I understood the message, some five miles), and near Sycamore Church, of which I informed Colonel Ripley, the commandant of the brigade I had at Bailey's Creek. Again, on Saturday evening, when Colonel Ripley's acting assistant adjutant-general reported to me on my visit to his camp that our cavalry in front had come back to within a mile and a