War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0804 N. AND SE. VA., N. C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

field is in my front, with the enemy in force last night on the opposite side. Will you let me know as soon as your line is established as near the enemy's lines as may be without assaulting it.

To this I received the following reply from General Humphreys:

Your dispatch of 6 a. m. is just received. My third and Second Divisions are moving, but through a dense and most impenetrable swamp, and their progress is necessarily slow. General Miles has orders to keep moving, keeping his connection with you. I have just repeated these orders to him.

At 6 a. m. I also sent the following order to General Griffin, commanding First Division:

Have General Bartlett's skirmish line feel the enemy in his front and ascertain if they are in the same position as last night, if he had not already determined it, and send me a report in writing.

At 7.30 a. m. I received the following from General Griffin:

Since the fog has lifted a little I find the right of my skirmish line within 150 yards of a complete line of rifle-pits, now held in, as far as developed, the usual force for such a line. I have made a demonstration with my skirmish line, which is in the open field, and am satisfied the position will be hotly contested. I send a diagram of my lines and the lines of the enemy, with the supposed line of advance of the Second Corps. No connection has yet been made with me on my right or left, either by line of battle or skirmish line.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brevet Major-General, Commanding Brigade.

Since the above was written it has been reported that the Second Crops connects.


Brevet Major-General.

I then sent this to General Webb, chief of staff, with the following remarks:

I send the above for your information. General Crawford is in force across a swamp on Griffin's left. We have al corporal from Johnson's division, captured this morning on the skirmish line. From the shape of the enemy's line I think there must be a considerable salient or bend near Dabney's Mill.

At this time my information was that the enemy held Dabney's Mill. At 8.30 a. m. I received the following dispatch from General Webb, written, probably, on the receipt of my dispatch to him of 5.50 a. m.:

General Meade does not think you hold as much of the front line as the strength of your command would warrant. He desires to have you make use of both Crawford's and Ayres' to develop to the left. he cannot give you any more definite information of General Sheridan's movements than to state that he is ordered to attack or turn the enemy's right. You must act independently of Sheridan, and, protecting your flanks, extend to the left as far as possible. If the enemy comes out and turns your left you must attack him. You will be supported with all the available force to be procured.


Chief of Staff.

Preparations were immediately made to carry out this order "to extend to the left as far as possible," and General Ayres' division was moved up to my most advanced position on the left, and reconnoitering parties were sent out to gain a knowledge of the country ot my left. This dispatch placed me in much perplexity. I had already stared that I could not extend farther with safety to my remaining in position, and yet this dispatch required me to extend farther; and yet did not define how far, nor for what object. I had no desire but to comply with instructions; but leaving the limit of extension discretionary with me, while being dissatisfied with my use of this discretion and requiring