toward the Seven Pines, whilst the main body from here could take the White Oak Swamp bridge road, and by the Long Bridge and New Market roads join the real attack. The distance by this route from Botton's Bridge to Richmond is only about twenty miles. The whole expedition should be aided by a previous strong advance of General Meade's army on the Rapidan to draw off the troops from Richmond and to keep them away. The gun-boats and transports should be seen in the York River before the main force leaves Fort Monroe for the James. The expedition might further be covered by sending supplies to New Berne, N. C., and letting it get out that the fleet was being prepared for an advance from there upon Goldsborough and Raleigh. This is introducing a number of conditions, but they are only to aid, and are not essential to the success of the expedition.
I remain, general, truly, yours,
S. P. HEINTZELMAN,
P. S. - It might be found advisable to hold both banks of the James River or advance by the Petersburg side on Richmond.
S. P. H.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
Fort Monroe, Va., April 20, 1864.
Commanding District of North Carolina:
GENERAL: I am exceedingly anxious to concentrate as many troops as possible and as rapidly upon the Peninsula. I look upon the present demonstration of the enemy as made simply for the purpose of preventing such concentration, and therefore I have felt but little apprehension of the result of the movement upon Plymouth. I don't think we can spare, to hold the posts in North Carolina, the amount of troops that are there. My judgment of the duties of the Government and the necessity of concentration of our forces forbid it. Indeed, were I left solely to my own judgment as a military question, I should abandon certainly all but one of our posts in North Carolina rather than expend the troops in holding them. I send, therefore, this note to you by my aide, Captain Shaffer, in order that you may suggest to me what will be the best regiments to form a brigade for the field, consisting of four regiments which can with safety be spared. I wish you also to send me at once the First U. S. Colored Troops. That was only loaned to General Peck upon the supposition that Pickett would attack him with 15,000 men. Send with this regiment all the men detailed for extra and other duty. Leave not a man that belongs to it who shall not be in their ranks. This is imperative. The fact that they are quartermasters and other clerks must make no difference. I know it is usual in a general in command when sending away troops to send the poorest, but I rely upon and send me the best for the field, and I know that to reverse the rule and send me the best for the field, and I know that our judgment upon that point would coincide. As soon as we commence operating upon the upper line, you will comprehend that North Carolina will be at once relieved. Everything the rebels have will be brought together to meet General Grant on the line of the Rapidan.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,