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[350] that runs south from the White Oak Ridge, joining the stream at the crossing of the Plank-road, which will take a long time to make practicable for wagons. I have all the pioneers I can spare at work on it. I will send you a sketch.

It must be noticed here that, at this time, we were quite ignorant of the country I was operating in, and the following corrections are now necessary in the above dispatch. The place “S. Dabney's” did not exist, though on our printed maps. The place taken for S. Dabney's is marked on the map “unknown.” The road, instead of joining the White Oak Road at W. Dabney's, does so near “Butler's.” General Griffin's division was just north of Mrs. Butler's, but this name was given to indicate the approximate location on the map.

The space occupied by the troops extended but little beyond a mile. General Crawford's division was in juxtaposition with General Ayres', and massed ready to fight in any direction. General Ayres was cautioned to be prepared to meet the enemy's attack both from the north and west, and reconnoissances were being made to gain a full knowledge of the country.

At 8.40 A. M., I received the following dispatch from General Webb:

There is firing along General Humphreys' front. The Major-General commanding desires you to be ready to send your reserve, if it should be called for, to support General Humphreys. There will be no movement of troops to-day.

To this I at once sent the following reply:

Your dispatch of 8.25 A. M. is just received. There is a good deal of musketry firing going on in our lines, by the men firing off their guns to put in fresh loads. Unless I break loose entirely from General Humphreys, I think the force he sent to relieve General Griffin is much more than, under any circumstances, would be needed there. My troops are, however, at all times as ready to move as it is possible to keep them for a long time. If the enemy break General Humphrey's line at any time, or threaten to do so, I shall not wait for orders to assist him, if I can.

At 8.50 A. M., I received the following from General Humphreys:

Please let me know where your right will rest, that I may connect with you? General Miles has relieved General Griffin, and I find a vacant space on his left.

To this I at once replied as follows:

I send you a sketch of the country west of the Plank-road, and a copy of my communication to General Webb, as to my position. I cannot take up any regular line of battle on account of the woods and swamps, but have assembled each division at a point, so they can fight in any direction. I had a brigade of General Griffin's and a battery stationed at Stroud's, for support. I don't think your left could be turned (even if I moved away), without having full information. But as my troops now are, I could move Griffin right up on your flank along with my artillery. I shall work hard all day to get the road through the woods in order.

At 8.55 A. M., I received the following from General Webb:

Owing to the weather, no change will to-day be made in the present position of the troops. Three days rations of subsistence and forage will be brought up and issued to the troops, and the artillery and wagons authorized to accompany them. The empty supply wagons will be sent to the rear, to be refilled at the railroad terminus. The Chief Engineer and Corps Commanders will use every exertion to make practicable the roads to the rear and communications with their several commands.

At 9.40 A. M., I sent the following dispatch to General Webb:

“I have just received a report from General Ayres that the enemy have their pickets still this side of the White Oak Road, so that their communication is continuous along it. I have sent out word to him to try and drive them off, or develop with what force the road is held by them.” This operation I deem essentially necessary to the security of our own position, and I directed General Ayres to use a brigade, if necessary, the distance being but a few hundred yards. In answer to it I received the following dispatch from General Webb, written 10.30 A. M.: “Your dispatch, giving General Ayres' position, is received: ‘General Meade directs that should you determine, by your reconnoissance, that you can get possession of the White Oak Road, you are to do so, notwithstanding the orders to suspend operations.’ ” 1

General Winthrop, with his brigade of General Ayres' division, advanced accordingly about 10 1/2 A. M., and was repulsed, and simultaneously an attack, which had been preparing against General Ayres, was made by the enemy in heavy force, both from the north and west, and General Ayres' division was forced back. General Ayres did all that was in his power to stay the enemy. I hastened toward the point of attack; but on arriving near General Crawford's division, it was also falling back, and all our efforts to hold the men in the woods were unavailing. General Griffin's line was then formed along the east bank of the branch of Gravelly Run, with Mink's battery on his right, and after some

1 Comparison of the preceding dispatches with the following extract relating to the same subject, taken from Lieutenant-General Grant's report to the Secretary of War, dated July 22, 1865, published with the annual documents, shows that Lieutenant-General Grant must have been misinformed in relation to the reports made by me, and the orders I received.


On the morning of the 31st, General Warren reported favorably to getting possession of the White Oak Road, and was directed to do so. To accomplish this, he moved with one division instead of his whole corps.

It is seen that the operations proposed by me and ordered, were as General Meade describes, of the nature of a “reconnoissance” only, the result of which was to determine what should be done. Special arrangement would have to be made with General Humphreys, if Griffin's division had to be moved up to the point where Generals Ayres and Crawford were. The action of the enemy, however interfered with the plans, as they often did, and produced the resulting operations.

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