War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 0656 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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HDQRS. PROVISIONAL DIVISION, ARMY OF THE JAMES, November 18, 1864.

General BUTLER:

One of my captains had a conversation and exchanged papers with one of the rebel pickets on the left this morning. This picket states that this line was to have been attacked in force last night but the men would not come up, and that the attack was deferred until to-night. He likewise states the rumor in their camp was that Petersburg was evacuated last night or would be to-night. I give these rumors in order that you may ascertain whether there is any truth in the report respecting Petersburg. The troops ordered by you to my support have reported, and a portion of them will be placed on picket this evening.

CHAS. K. GRAHAM,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

(Copy forwarded by Butler to Grant and repeated by Grant to Meade.)

BUTLER'S HEADQUARTERS, November 18, 1864.

General GRAHAM:

What is the cause of the firing on your front, and what is going on?

B. F. BUTLER,

Major-General.

HDQRS. PROVISIONAL DIVISION, ARMY OF THE JAMES, In the Field, Va., November 18, 1864.

Major-General BUTLER,

Commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina:

The firing on my line is occasioned by an effort to reoccupy the old picket-line from which our men fell back last night. It is confined to the picket-line.

CHARLES K. GRAHAM,

Brigadier-General.

HDQRS. PROVISIONAL DIVISION, ARMY OF THE JAMES, In the Field, Va., November 18, 1864.

Brevet Major-General TERRY,

Commanding Army of the James:

GENERAL: The rawness o the troops on our picket-line occasioned their falling back before a demonstration of the enemy, which was undoubtedly made for the purpose of piercing the line and capturing as many on it as possible. Notwithstanding exertions on our part to ascertain the loss it cannot yet be ascertained. It is more than probable that Colonel Kaufman, Two hundred and ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, field officer of the day, with 100 men, have been under fire previously may be ordered here to reoccupy the line from which we have been obliged to retire, having no faith at all in the troops that are under my command at present except behind breast-works. Colonel Potter and myself are now at the front, and will remain until the emergency is over.

I am, general, &c.,

CHARLES K. GRAHAM,

Brigadier-General.