He determined at once to push forward both wings of Butler
's army, and seated himself on the ground, with his back to the parapet, to write the order.
While he wrote, a shell burst immediately over his head, and instinctively every one around him stooped, to avoid the fragments.
did not look up, his hand was unshaken, and he went on writing his order as calmly as if he had been in camp.
The despatch was to Birney
, and in these words: ‘General Ord
has carried very strong works and some fifteen pieces of artillery, and his corps is now ready to advance in conjunction with you. . . . Push forward on the road I left you on.’
Having thus directed the immediate advance of Butler
's entire command, the general-in-chief returned to Deep Bottom
at noon, to communicate with Meade
, from whom he had not heard since early morning.
He announced the capture of Fort Harrison
, and informed him that rebel reinforcements were arriving from Petersburg
‘If this continues,’ he said, ‘it may be well for you to attack the enemy.’
, with the cavalry, had advanced on the Darbytown
road to a point within six miles of Richmond
, and a division of Butler
's infantry was ordered to his support.
But word soon came in that a gallant assault by Birney
had been repulsed with heavy loss, and the whole advance was checked.
The impetus of the first success was already lost, and everything in this movement depended upon celerity and surprise.
The Eighteenth corps, on the left, however, had reached a point north of one of the rebel bridges on the James
, so that Lee
was now able to send troops