Mine Run without opposition, or had Ewell attempted to check the movement, he would have been overwhelmed before reinforced by Hill. Prisoners reported that Hill did not come up till the afternoon of the twenty-seventh, so that if the movements of the Third corps had been prompt and vigorous on the twenty-seventh, assisted by the Sixth and Second, there was every reason to believe Ewell could have been overcome before the arrival of Hill. And after the enemy, through these culpable delays, had been permitted to concentrate on Mine Run, I have reason to believe, but for the unfortunate error of judgment of Major-General Warren, my original plan of attack in three columns would have been successful, or at least, under the view I took of it, would certainly have been tried. It may be said I should not depend upon the judgment of others; but it is impossible a commanding general can reconnoitre in person a line of over seven miles in extent, and act on his own judgment as to the expediency of attacking or not. Again it may be said, that the effort should have been made to test the value of my judgment, or, in other words, I should encounter what I believed to be certain defeat so as to prove conclusively that victory was impossible. Considering how sacred is the trust of the lives of the brave men under my command, but, willing as I am to shed their blood, and my own where duty requires and my judgment dictates that the sacrifice will not be in vain, I cannot be a party to a wanton slaughter of my troops for any mere personal end. The reports of the corps commanders, with those of such of the division commanders as accompany them, together with the list of the casualties, are all herewith submitted, except those from the cavalry, not yet received. I also send a sketch prepared by the engineer, showing the routes taken by each column. The point marked “Widow Morris” is where the roads fork, the left-hand fork being the one the Third corps should have taken. The point marked “Tom Morris” is the scene of the action of the twenty-seventh ultimo. Very respectfully, etc.,
George G. Meade, Major-General Commanding.