received, through Colonel Bankhead, corps inspector, and order to move down the road leading northwarding with all possible dispatch, as the cavalry and infantry were to attack the enemy at once. I moved up troops as promptly as I could, and on arriving near the place where the corps was formed for the attack was met by yourself. You immediately pointed out the ground that my troops wee to form on, remarking is substance that you wished me to be a expeditions as possible. The order wad executed at once, and I then reported in person to you. In my opinion the division was formed without any halting or unnecessary delay.
The following is from General Ayres, dated June 24:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 17th instant, last evening, asking an official statement concerning the movement of the Fifth Corps on the 1st of April, from the position where it was massed to that where the lines of battle were formed previous to the attack. I do not know at that time the order was given to commence the movement. I was ordered to follow the First Division. This was done, and my division was kept will closed up on the troop song rout. On arriving near the position where the lines where forming you requested me to form my troops as expeditiously as possible, as General Sheridan desired to attack the enemy immediately. Once again during the formation you desired me to be expeditions. My division being a very small one, was soon formed, whereupon I reported to you that I was ready. The order was then given, and the troops moved at once to the attack.
R. B. AYRES,
In view of this testimony it is apparent that General Sheridan had left out of his calculations the necessary time to make the formation he directed, and that, in his own opinion, his plan was endangered thereby. The propriety of an army all moving at once presupposes, in order that the general who so employs it should be entitled to the credit of the results obtained, that he should have his information so exact that the mass falls directly upon a vulnerable and vital point of the enemy's position. If there should be a mistake in this, the chief merit belongs to those exertions and arrangements by which this mistake is corrected or in the new dispositions which the occasion demands as requisite and which are not impracticable. But this calculation as to the potion of the left flank of the enemy's line was faulty, and to a very serious exigent, considering that he placed all the troops in position for the move. The changes we had to make afterward required the greatest exertion of myself and staff, when everything was in motion and in woods of the difficult nature usually found in Virginia, no one of the command being at all acquainted with eh ground over which we were moving.
After the forward movement began a few minutes brought us to the White Oak road, distant about 1,000 yards. There we found the advance of General Mackenzie's cavalry, which, coming up the White Oak road, had arrived there just before us. This showed us for the first time that we were too far to our right of the enemy's left flank. General Ayres' right crossed the road in the open field, and his division commenced changing front at once, so as to bring his line on the right flank of the enemy's position. Fortunately for us the enemy's left flank so rested in the woods that he could not fire at us as we crossed this open field, and the part of it that faced us formed a very thirst line. This General Ayres attacked at once, the firing being heavy, but less than usually destructive, on account of the thick woods. The rapid change of front by General Ayres caused his right flank at first to bet in advance of General Crawford's, owing to the greater distance the latter had to move, nd exposed the forme to being taken in flank by the enemy. Orders were sent by me to General Crawford to oblique his division to