being weakened by detachments. Their success is entirely dependent on the enemy being surprised and his works carried at all hazards before he recovers from the surprise or can re-enforce. My experience with this army does not lead to any sanguine in the judgment and zeal of Generals Potter and McLaughlen, I fear the matter is more dependent on the views of the enlisted men, and I know among them there is great indisposition to attack intrenchments. I concur with the chief engineer that in case of any movements drawing away and occupying the bulk of the enemy's line we have to reserve the bulk of our forces. I think these attacks should be held in view and the first favorable opportunity for making them seized.
GEO. G. MEADE,
CITY POINT, VA., March 3, 1865.
Major General G. G. MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
Colonel Duane's communication of this date to you, with your indorsement, is just received at the hands of Major Mason, of your staff. The proposed attack was based on the supposition that the enemy had detached largely from the army about Petersburg. That supposition does not now seem to be sustained. Whilst the enemy holds nearly all his force for the defense of Richmond and Petersburg, the object to be gained by attacking intrenchments is not worth the risk to be run. In fact, for the present, it is better for us to hold the enemy where he is than to force him south. Sheridan is now on his way to Lynchburg, and Sherman to join Schofield. After the junction of the two latter is formed they will push for Raleigh, N. C., and build up the road to their rear. To drive the enemy from Richmond now would be to endanger the success of these two columns. Unless, therefore, the enemy should detach to the amount of at least two divisions more than we know anything about as yet, we will not attack his intrenchments; and probably not then if the roads improve, so as to admit of a flank movement. It is well to have it understood where and how to attack suddenly, if it should be found at any future time that the enemy are detaching heavily. My notion is that Petersburg will be evacuated simultaneously with such detaching as would justify an attack.
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, March 3, 1865-12 midnight.
I forward report of to-day's examination of seventy-two deserters,* You will perceive that Gordon's division is accounted for present, and that Rodes' was on Tuesday last at Sutherland's Station, though reported under marching orders. It would appear that Lane's brigade,
*See Schuyler to Ruggles, p.808.