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NP: July 5, 1864 Richmond Examiner: Wilson’s Order Book

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.


July 3, 1864.


Sir—I am directed by Major General Fitz Lee to enclose you copies of several official communications relating to the recent movements of Grant’s army, taken from General Wilson’s headquarter wagon, captured by this division near Reams’ station, on the 29th ultimo; some of which may be of sufficient interest to warrant their publication; and to request you to advertise the following stolen articles, retaken at the same time from the marauders and now in possession of Hon. William H. Macfarland, of Richmond, who has been requested to deliver them, upon being identified, to their proper owners, viz:

One large silver waiter, with heavy beading,

One silver-plated castor,

One silver-plated cream pot,

Eleven old silver spoons, engraved “W,”

One old silver spoon, engraved “B,”

One double silver-plated salt stand,

One silver goblet, marked “Neblett,”

One silver goblet, engraved St. John’s church, Cumberland Parish, Lunenburg county, Virginia.

A light roan gelding with black mane and tail, both hind feet white—about two years old, and having the appearance of a thoroughbred, was found tied-behind General Wilson’s headquarter ambulance, and is supposed to have been taken by him and reserved for his own use.  The owner can recover the colt by inquiring of D. Hatcher, “Ballsville Postoffice, Powhatan county, Virginia,” where it has been sent for safe keeping.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major and Assistant Adjutant General.

[We suppose this list refers only to what was found in Wilson’s “Headquarter ambulance.”  But ALL the marauders should be personally examined, and their stolen goods thus advertised.—EXAMINER]

May 26, 1864—10, A. M.


The following movements are ordered:

I.  The Sixth corps will be withdrawn at dark by Jericho bridge, and follow the route of Russell’s division via Chesterfield station, to Hanovertown, taking the road nearest the Pamunkey river.  The trains of the corps will join it at Chesterfield station.

II.  The Fifth corps will be withdrawn at dark by Quarles’ ford bridge and pass via Old Chesterfield to Newcastle ferry, on the Pamunkey, below Hanovertown, by roads to be examined to-day by the engineers, and respecting which further instructions will be given.  The route of the Fifth corps will be to the northward and eastward of the route of the Sixth corps.  The wooden pontoons (illegible) Jericho bridge, and as many others as are available, will accompany the Fifth corps—Should there be any surplus canvas pontoons with the cavalry at Hanovertown crossing, they may be obtained for the use of the Fifth corps, if required, for the bridge at Newcastle.

III.  Crittenden’s division, of the Ninth corps, will be withdrawn at dark.  The Ninth corps will hold the fords and crossings from Oxford to Jericho mills.

IV.  The Second corps and Wilson’s division, of the Ninth corps, will be withdrawn at an hour to be hereafter indicated.  The Second corps will hold the ford and crossings below Oxford.

V.  When the road taken by the Fifth and Sixth corps are clear, the Ninth corps will follow the Fifth corps to Newcastle ferry, and the Second corps will follow the Sixth corps to Hanovertown.  The withdrawal of these two corps from the river and their movement by the routes indicated will be simultaneous.  The corps commanders will act in concert.  As soon as it can be done without interfering with the trains and movements of the Fifth and Sixth corps, the trains and surplus artillery of the Ninth and Second corps will be moved to the roads these corps will take.  All bridges will be removed when the troops re-cross to the north bank of the North Anna.

VI.  The division of cavalry in the night will hold the various fords and bridges as they are successively abandoned, from Butler’s ford down, and cover the rear of the army.

VII.  Headquarters will be during the movement on the route of the Sixth and Second corps.

VIII.  The supply and other main trains of the army will be moved to-night by Bowling Green along the north or east bank of the Mattaponi to Dunkirk or that vicinity, and thence to Hanovertown.  A pontoon train will accompany them.

By command of Major General M(illegible).

(Signed)                                                     S  WILLIAMS.
Assistant Adjutant General

Brigadier General Wilson, commanding cavalry division.

June 2d, 11, P. M., 1864.


The Major General commanding directs me to inform you that the enemy will be attacked at daylight in the morning, near Bethesda church, by General Burnside and General Warren, and as an attack by you upon his rear or flank will greatly aid them, the commanding General directs that you move in such manner as to attack the enemy in his left flank, moving down from Hawes’ shop to Bethesda church:

(Signed)                                          A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major General and Chief of Staff.


Bethesda church, June 3d, 1864.


General:  Your notes received in due time and would have been answered sooner, but hoped by waiting to give you a more definite answer in reference to the probabilities of occupying the Vis’s house or some point in advance, but I find I shall not be able to determine anything until morning, and therefore return the orderlies.  I also enclose an order received from General Meade this afternoon for your information, in case you have not received a copy.

We took considerable ground from the enemy yesterday, and held it all.  Our lines now extend across the Shady Grove road near the Vis house.  (Illegible).    Yours truly,

A. E. BURNSIDE, Major General.

June 3d, 1864—1:30, P. M.


For the present all further offensive operations will be suspended.  Corps commanders will at once intrench the positions they now hold—including their advance positions—and will cause reconnaissance to be made with a view to moving against the enemy’s works by regular approaches from the advanced positions now held.  Should the enemy assume the offensive, and succeed in breaking through any point of our line, the corps commanders nearest to the assaulted point will throw their whole force upon the enemy’s column making the attack.

By command of Major General Meade.

(Signed)                                                                       S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.


June 2d, 1864—5 ¾, A. M.


Your despatch of half past one, A. M., received at a quarter past eleven o’clock last night.  I sent you, through Major-General Sheridan orders from the Commanding General to approach the enemy’s left flank and rear by way of Hawes’ shops and attack him.  The enemy last night were in the vicinity of Bethesda church, on the Shady Grove church road, this side of Vis’s house.  They were to be attacked this morning at half past four o’clock, by Generals Burnside and Warren, and your attack was to be in aid of theirs

The Commanding General considers that you should hold Hanovertown and Hawes’ shop and picket from Bethesda church to Hawes’ shop and Hanovertown.

You should move, as already indicated, with your own troops and those temporarily placed under your orders.

(Signed)                                           A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major General and Chief of Staff.


June 5th, 1864 (illegible), P. M.


The following movements and changes are ordered for to-night, and will commence as soon after dark as practicable:

I.  Major-General Warren will withdrawn and move by way of Old Church to the vicinity of Leary’s, about two miles in rear of Cold Harbour, when he will remain in reserve prepared to move whenever required.

II.  Major- General Burnside will change his position, keeping his left united with General Smith’s right, in the best manner the ground admits of, and extend along Roundabout creek and the Matadequin, past Allen’s mills towards the fork of Old Church road near the crossing of Matadequin.

III.  Major-General Smith will modify his right in the manner required by this change of position of General Burnside.

IV.  Brigadier General Ferrero will hold his command ready to move on the morning of the 6th.

V.  Major-General Hancock will extend his pickets or skirmish line with strong supports to the nearest point of the Chickahominy, relieving the cavalry pickets in that space.

VI.  Major-General Sheridan will hold two divisions of his cavalry ready to carry out at the time indicated in the special instructions which will be given him.

A brigade of the remaining division will be posted at Old Church and picket from the right of General Burnside to the Pamunkey.  The other brigade will picket the Chickahominy from the left of General Hancock.  The changes in the position of the cavalry will be made at such time and by such routs as not to interfere with the movements of the infantry.

By command of Major-General Meade.

(Signed)                                          S WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant General.


June 5th, 1864—9 ¾, A. M.


Your despatch of four, A. M., is received.  The enemy having withdrawn from General Burnside’s front yesterday morning, General Warren and General Burnside were directed to contract to the left, so that the right of the army (the right of the Ninth corps) would rout in the vicinity of Bethesda church.  As General Burnside was in constant communication with you at (illegible), it was expected that he would communicate to you the changes required in his picket line by which to govern yours.  It required no change of your position, merely of a part of your picket line.  Several hours subsequently, and when the contraction had partly taken place, General Burnside was directed to transfer his corps to the left of General Warren, in order to expedite the relief of certain troops there, General Warren’s right taking the place of General Burnside’s right in the vicinity of Bethesda church.

The orders requiring another cavalry division to be sent to the right of the army directed it to be united to yours.

(Signed)                                               A. A. HUMPHREY,
Major General.


June 11th, 1864.


The following movements are ordered:

I.  At dark on the evening of the 12th instant, Brigadier-General Wilson will move the brigade of cavalry picketing the Chickahominy,  access that swamp at Long bridge of that vicinity, and (illegible) on the Long bridge road towards the crossing of White Oak swamp and towards the Charles City, Central and New Market roads.  The brigade will move promptly and clear the road for the Fifth corps.  The pickets at the crossings of the Chickahominy will remain until relieved by infantry pickets.

II.  During Saturday, the 11th instant, Major-General Warren will move the two divisions of his corps, now held in reserve, to (illegible), by way of Parseley’s mill, Prospect church, &c., so as to avoid the observation of the enemy.  At dark on the evening of the 12th, instant, he will move his whole corps to Long bridge by the shortest route; cross the Chickahominy and move on the road to White Oak swamp bridge, (called, Long bridge road) and hold that road looking towards the crossing of White Oak swamp and the Charles City, Central and New Market roads, during the passage of the army towards James river.  He will follow the Second corps towards Charles City Court House.  General Warren will picket the crossing of the Chickahominy on his flank while moving to Long bridge, relieving the cavalry pickets.

III.  Major General  W. F. Smith, Eighteenth corps, will withdraw as soon after dark as practicable, on the evening of the 12th instant, and move by way of Parseley’s mill, Prospect church, Hopeville church, Tunstall’s station to White House, when he will embark and proceed to Bermuda Hundred.  Upon reaching Tunstall’s station his artillery and trains will join the main trains of the army.

IV.  Major-General Burnside, Ninth corps, will withdraw as soon after dark as practicable, on the evening of the 12th instant, and move by way of Allen’s mill, (or by roads avoiding Smith’s route) then north of the south fork of the Matadequin to Barton’s, thence past Hughes’, Watts’, Clopton’s, Sarner’s store, and to Tunstall’s station, or by any adjoining route,—avoiding Smith’s, that may be found to Tunstall’s station.  At Tunstall’s station the corps of General Smith has precedence.  When it has cleared the way General Burnside will move to Jones’ bridge, taking care not to interfere with routes of other corps, past Baltimore Cross roads and Emmans’ church.—When the routes of the Ninth and Sixth corps unite, about three miles from Jones’ bridge the corps that reaches the point first, will have precedence.  After crossing at Jones’ bridge, Major-General Burnside will take the route passing east of Charles City Court House, by Vandorn, Clopton and Tyler’s mill.

V.  Major-General Wright, Sixth corps, will withdraw as soon after dark as practicable, on the evening of the 12th, instant, to the intrenched line in his rear, from Allen’s pond to Elder swamp, and, in conjunction with the Second corps, hold that line until the roads for the Sixth and Second corps are well cleared by the Fifth corps, when the two corps will withdraw.  General Wright will move by way of Cool Arbour, Taylor’s, J. P. Parseley’s, Widow Vis’s, (illegible) and Hopkins’ mill to Moody’s, and thence by way of Emmans’ church to Jones’ bridge, preceding or following the Ninth corps, as already indicated, when the routes unite.  After crossing the Chickahominy, General Wright will take the route to Charles City Court House by Vandorn’s.

VI.  Major-General Hancock, Second corps, will withdraw as soon after dark as practicable, on the eveing of the 12th instant, to the intrenched line in his rear from Allen’s pond to Elder swamp, and hold that line in conjunction with the Sixth corps, until the roads for the Second and Sixth corps are well cleared, when he will move by routes in his rear to the Despatch station road, avoiding the roads of the Sixth corps, and by Despatch station, and the shortest route to Long bridge.  He will look out for the crossings of the Chickahominy, on his flank, while passing.  After crossing the Chickahominy, General Hancock will move towards Charles City Court House by way of St. Mary’s church, Walker’s, &c.

VII.  Brigadier-General Ferrero will move his division at dark on the evening of the 12th instant, to the trains of the army near White House on Cumberland, and cover them during the movement.

VIII.  The trains will move to the Window Shades and cross the Chickahominy in that vicinity.  They will take such routes as not to interfere with the movements of the troops.

IX.  The brigade of cavalry on the right will withdraw at the same time as the Sixth and Second corps, and close in on the rear of the army and cover it and the trains during the movement.

X.  Corps commanders will see that every precaution is taken to insure the execution of this movement, and that the troops move promptly and quickly on the march.

XI.  Headquarters during the movement will be at Pollard’s on Cedar grove, near Long bridge, and until established there, will be on the route of the Sixth corps as far as Emmans’ church.

XII.  Eight canvas and eight wooden pontoons will accompany the Fifth corps to Long bridge.—The engineers will establish bridges at Jones’ bridge with the remaining eight canvas pontoons and the wooden pontoons of the Sixth corps.  The wooden pontoons of the Second corps will accompany the main trains of the army.

XIII.  The pickets of the several corps will be withdrawn at the same hour from the line of intrenchments before daylight of the 13th instant, and will follow the routes of their respective corps.

XIV.  The corps will take with them on the march merely those light headquarter wagons, ammunition wagons, ambulances, &c., specified for the march across the Rapid Ann.  All others will be sent at once to the main trains of the army.

XV.  The depot at White House will be continued for the present, with its permanent garrison, but all supplies, &c, for this army will be moved to the James river, leaving 50,000 rations subsistence and 30,000 rations forage, in addition to supplies for the garrison.  On the arrival of Major Generals Sheridan and Hunter, the post at White House will be broken up and transferred to Yorktown, from which place the commanding officer will report his arrival to these headquarters.

By command of Major-General Meade.

(Signed)                                        S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant General.

Brigadier General Wilson.


June 13th, 1864.


The following movements will take place at eight o’clock, P. M., to day:  General Ayres to be followed by General Griffin, will set out for St. Mary’s church, withdrawing there the pickets as the rear of their column leaves the present position.  Guides will be furnished over the route, and they will take with them the artillery ambulances they have with them now.  The same will be done by General Crawford, followed by General Wilson’s cavalry, over a route that a guide will be furnished for.  On arriving at St. Mary’s church, if the road further on is found obstructed with troops or trains, the troops will be massed at that point until the road is clear.  Divisions will have precedence of roads in the following order, after leaving St. Mary’s church:  General Cutler, General Ayres, General Griffin, General Crawford and General Wilson.  Each division commander will take every precaution to drive up stragglers, and troops must be given to understand that all left behind will undoubtedly fall into the hands of the enemy.—Headquarters of the corps will be at St. Mary’s church until the corps passes that point.  Division commanders will report their arrival at the church.

By command of Major-General Warren.

(Signed)                                             A. S. MARION, Jr.,
Assistant Adjutant General.


June 14th, 9 ½, A. M., 1864.


Your despatch, 11.50, A. M., yesterday, reached me this morning.  The request for orders had been already answered by a despatch of mine yesterday, directing you to cover the right flank of the army, in its movement to Charles City Court House, General Warren to notify you when he moved.

The commanding General directs that you hold all the roads leading towards Charles City Court House, between the James river and Chickahominy or White Oak swamp, say from Hakali’s or Turkey Island creek to White Oak creek-bridge; you will push the enemy as far as practicable and ascertain his movements.  The army will begin to cross this morning in barges.  Keep the commanding General constantly advised of what occurs in your front.

(Signed)                                                         A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.


June 15th, 1864, 9.30, P. M.


The following movements of the troops are ordered:

I.  The Ninth corps, Major-General Burnside, will immediately cross at the pontoon bridge and with its train proceed on the road to Petersburg VIA Old Court House, and take position on the left of the Second corps.

II.  At four, A. M., to morrow morning, the two divisions of the Fifth corps, now at Clarke’s, will be ferried across at Wilcox’s wharf and the upper landing on the right bank.  The two divisions of the Sixth corps, now at Charles City Court House, will move so as to commence at four, A. M., ferrying from the wharf near the pontoon bridge on this side and Wind-mill point on the right bank.  The artillery and trains of this corps will cross the pontoon bridge.  The two divisions to cross at the bridge-ferry, and the trains will move by the most western of the two approaches, to the bridge, or in such manner as not to interfere with the movement of the general supply train.  After the Fifth corps is assembled on the right bank of the James, Major General Warren will move towards Petersburg, taking position on the left of the Ninth corps, and in case that corps has not cleared the road he will look for a more southern road to move on.

III.  The bridge will be given to the Ninth corps and to the trains and artillery of the Fifth corps, whenever the latter are assembled in a body near the bridge.  When not occupied as above, the supply train will continue to move across the bridge day and night until it is all over.

IV.  Brigadier-General Wilson, with the cavalry, will continue to watch the movements of the enemy, in his advanced position, until all of the trains are across the bridge, when he will be withdrawn by Major-General Wright, commanding Fifth corps, and passed across the bridge and join the army in front of Petersburg.

V.  On the passage of the cavalry Major-General Wright will withdraw from the intrenched lines he now holds, crossing the river and leaving a sufficient guard till the bridge is taken up—will move with his corps and rejoin the army, taking position on the left of the Fifth corps—Major-General Wright will call upon the commanding officers of the gunboats Atlanta and Mackinaw for co-operation in case the same is necessary.

VI.  On the passage of all the troops and trains, as indicated, Brigadier-General (illegible) will take up the bridge and proceed with it to City Point—reporting his arrival there to these headquarters and to those of Lieutenant General Grant.  The bridge trains belonging to the army will be sent to their respective corps.

VII.  The chief quartermaster and chiefs of other departments will establish depots of the army at City Point.

VIII.  The supply train as soon as it is all across the river, and the Ninth and Fifth corps have moved forward, will be advanced to some suitable position in rear of the (illegible) of the army, giving the road to the Sixth corps (illegible) ready.

IX.  Headquarters will be moved to-morrow to the front in rear of the Ninth corps.

X.  Should any demonstration (illegible) interfere with the above movements, and threaten the security of the supply train,  (illegible) General Warren will cease crossing the river and,  in conjunction with Major-General Wright, cover the movements of the supply train till it is within the intrenched line, when he will withdraw and cross the river by the bridge and bridge-ferry.

By command of Major General Meade.

(Signed)                                    S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant General

Brigadier General Wilson, commanding cavalry division.


10, P. M., June 17th, 1864.

General—You will please send immediately a command not less than two regiments, say six hundred men, to return to the pontoon bridge, re-cross it and protect the cattle now there until it is either ferried (illegible) swum across the river, afterwards to rejoin your command.  In order to give your command some rest, at the same time must (illegible) to some use.—Our trains are at or near the mouth of Bailey’s creek, the left of the army is within one and a half miles of Petersburg near the Norfolk railroad.  I should (illegible) you to take a position such as will cover the train and look to the left and rear of the army.  Draw your supplies and refit as soon as you can, and advise me when you are in condition for service; also report your position—At Prince George Court House is a good position.

(Signed)                                              G G MEADE, Major-General.1

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  1. “Wilson’s Order Book.” Richmond Examiner. July 5, 1864, p. 1 col. 3-6
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