War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0806 N. AND SE. VA., N. C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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At 10.15 a. m. I sent the following dispatch to General Webb:

My idea of the way I should extend my line I have indicated in my dispatch of 9.50. Having my troops all well in hand I can move out Ayres in column to-day as I did Griffin yesterday, and if he meets the enemy give him battle. I can support him, if needed, with nearly the whole corps, and follow up any advantage gained, and if I am worsted I have a good place to reform on. This may seem a little slow, but it is the only way we can keep our troops working together and conduct operations with certainty. The amount of line I can occupy will depend upon the character of the country I develop. The roads and fields are getting too bad for artillery, and I do not believe General Sheridan can operate advantageously. If General Humphreys is able to straighten out his line between my right and the vicinity of the Crow house, he will nearly all day fining out how matters stand. The order about the cavalry reporting to General Macy has been sent out.

Having made all the necessary preparations at 10.30 a. m. I sent the following order to General Ayres by Major-Cope:

I wish you would take your division (with a battery of artillery, if you think it practicable), and move out on a reconnaissance northwest from Mrs. Butler's, or as near that direction as may be practicable, keeping with your own men a connection with our present picket-line, which must remain as it is. Major Cope, of my staff, will accompany you. If within a mile beyond the plank road your find any enemy drive him back, but do not advance your main force farther than that, unless to procure some obvious advantage gained, till you report to me the result. With your main body thus in good position, protecting your own flanks, advance your skirmishers out as far as prudent to reconnoiter and developed the character of the country and the enemy's position. A portion of my escort will accompany you. General Merritt's cavalry division is massed at Ja;. Boisseau's, and are feeling on the road north from that toward the White Oak road. If you become engaged with a superior force, and can hold on, I will re-enforce you with Crawford's division as soon as called for.

At 11.15 a. m. the following dispatch was also sent to General Griffin by Colonel Locke, my adjutant-general:

The major-general commanding wishes you to swing around on the left as General Ayres moves out.

At 11.20 a. m. I received the following dispatch from General Humphreys:

My line of battle now extends in a straight line past the Crow house to your right. I have ordered the skirmishers of the two divisions and those on the right of Miles' division to be advanced and get to Hatcher's Run if they can. Please let me know if you are going to advance your skirmishers or line of battle, that I may have my movements conform to yours. The enemy's main line of works on the other side of Hatcher's Run is in view, the Crow house being 600 or 800 yards distant there.

To this I sent, at 11.20 a. m., the following reply:

My position on the plank road at the junction of the Quaker road cannot be advanced any farther, the enemy being reported strongly entrenched. There may be a little portion of my extreme right, retired last night for want of connection, which can be thrown out if your line can be advanced. Any straightening out in that portion of the lie that General Miles thinks practicable shall be done. I am about sending out a division from the plank road north northwest from Mrs. Butler's, to reconnoiter and drive back the enemy, and shall follow up any engagement that my take place outside of the enemy's line of work with early all the corps. Your line must now be very much shorter than it was when first taken up yesterday. Telegraph line is at my headquarters.

At 11.30 a. m. I sent the following to General Webb:

General Ayres is now moving out to extend my line. If he meets more force within a mile than he can dispose of Crawford will go to his support, and I can also use a brigade from Griffin. If the enemy is outside of his line, or comes out, we shall have a considerable fight pretty soon.