me to extend farther, and not saying how far now what for, was most embarrassing. The fault of these unlimited extensions were inevitable exposure of the flanks. It was a system that, notwithstanding what we had suffered from it, the orders to the corps commanders constantly required, and the enemy were so aware of this prevailing plan that they constantly provided to attack the flank as soon as we had fairly exposed it, as we were required to do in closing upon the enemy's entrenchments. These entrenchments, from their artificial strength, enabled the enemy to hold with comparatively weak force, and to detach, notwithstanding his inferiority in numbers, a force to operate on our flank, where a blow could be given with even a small body.
Illustrations of the weakness of our lines from extension and of consequent disastrous swoops of the enemy upon them are numerous through out the war. Our flanks could only be secure, either in moving into position or advancing to attack, by providing a heavy mass of troops at that always threatened point. If the enemy came out and turned my flak it was inevitable that I would have to receive his attack, provided I extended my lines "as far as possible." I therefore sent the following questions to General Webb, at 8.30 a. m.:
I have just received, your dispatch dated 7.50 a. m. If I extend my line to the left as far as "possible," using both Crawford and Ayres," and "the enemy turns my left," what will I have to attack him with?
I would further remark here that in almost every instance orders from above me so disposed of my troops that they could not be kept together or moved together as General Grant's report says mine should have moved on the 31st.
At 9 a.m . I received the following dispatch from General Webb, written 8.40 a. m.:
From deserters and prisoners we learn that the enemy's line runs along the White Oak Ridge road to Boydton plank road; then back on the road to Burgess' Mill, and then down Hatcher's Run. Humphreys has possession of Dabney's Mill. Their picket-line was a rifle-pit and easily taken.
At 9.20 a. m. I sent the following dispatch to General Webb:
Your dispatch of 8.40 a. m. (Numbers 3) just received. The information I have received is of the same effect as that you send me. Two deserters report the line immediately in front of General Griffin as what they think a strong one, with two lines of obstructions in front. They had a large number of negroes to work upon it yesterday. General Crawford is at present making a temporary line near the plank road on which we can reform in case of a reverse after advancing. I will then extend my left as far as practicable.
At 9.55 a. m. I received the following from General Webb, written 9.30 a. m.:
General Meade directs that you send Colonel Walsh to his position at the junction of the old stage and Quaker roads, and directs him to report from that point ot General Macy, provost-marshal-general. He is very anxious to have you cover as much of the front line as possible consistent with the safety of your command, and his idea was that you would put both Griffin and Crawford in front, keeping a portion of each as a reserve, and keeping Ayres to cover you left flank.
At 9.50 a. m. I sent the following to General Webb:
Captain Gillespie has just come from General Sheridan's headquarters, at Dinwidie Court-House, on his way to General Grant. He came up the Boydton plank road. When he left Dinwiddie Court-House one division of the cavalry was to move out on the road due north of Dinwiddie, and mass at Boisseau's, then feel out toward the White Oak road. General Sheridan remains at Dinwiddie with one other division, and the other division is upon Stony Creek, where the Vaughan road crosses. I shall soon send out General Ayres' division on a reconnaissance from Mrs. Butler's northwesterly toward S. Dabney's. He will be in position to develop the enemy's line, and where I can support him with General Crawford, and where he can co-operate with General Sheridan if he comes within reach.