The battle of Hatcher's Run,an action so confused by reason of the heavily wooded character of the country, that it would be impossible for you to follow the details without the aid of a map, so I must content myself with stating simply that the attempt failed; not forgetting the caution to you, however, that so far as concerns the conduct of affairs, and the numbers engaged, on the Confederate side, Mr. Swinton's narrative is a very fallacious guide. Once more, Mr. Stanton, who had long preserved silence, appeared to chronicle victory, and gold, which ever sympathizes with success, rose from 2.18 1/2 to 2.41--within ten days to 2.57. Nor shall we judge  him harshly in this instance, for his bulletin was based upon the following dispatch:
General Lee's dispatch is as follows:City Point, October 27, 9 P. M.I have just returned from the crossing of the Boydton Plank Road with Hatcher's creek. At every point the enemy was found entrenched and his works manned. No attack was made during the day further than to drive the pickets and cavalry inside the main works. Our casualties have been light — probably less than 200. The same is probably true of the enemy. [Later]--The attack on Hancock proves to be a decided success. We lost no prisoners except the usual stragglers, who are always picked up.
A discrepancy of statement which I leave to be reconciled by those better equipped for the task than I am, simply remarking that a perusal of the war dispatches of General Grant and General Sheridan often recalls to one that witty saying of Sidney Smith: “Nothing is so deceptive as figures, except — facts.” On the same day, General Fields, north of the James, captured seven stands of colors and above 400 prisoners,1 and when it leaked out in the New York papers, as it gradually did, that this was no mere “advance for the purpose of reconnoissance,” as stated by Mr. Stanton in his bulletin, but a grand blow for the capture of Petersburg, which had been promptly parried with a loss to the Federals of above 3,000 men, who shall wonder that for the time the “bulls,” and not the bulletins, had the best of it in Wall street? Fromheadquarters Army of Northern Virginia, October 28, 1864.General Hill reports that the attack of General Heth upon the enemy on the Boydton Plank Road, mentioned in my dispatch last evening, was made by three brigades under General Mahone in front, and by General Hampton in rear. Mahone captured 400 prisoners, 3 stands of colors, and 6 pieces of artillery. The latter could not be brought off, the enemy having possession of the bridge. In the attack subsequently made by the enemy, General Mahone broke three lines of battle, and during the night the enemy retreated, leaving his wounded and more than 250 dead on the field. [Later]--“The total number of prisoners, according to General Hill's report, is 700.”
Honorable Secretary of War:R. E. Lee, General.