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OR XL P1 #175: Reports of Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, commanding IX/AotP, June 12-July 30, 1864

No. 175. Reports of Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, U. S. Army, commanding Ninth Army Corps, of operations June 12-July 30.1

PROVIDENCE, R. I., November 26, 1864.



From June 12 to July 30. The march across the Chickahominy and the James, and the operations in front of Petersburg.

On the night of the 12th [June], in accordance with instructions, the corps was moved to Tunstall’s Station, where we arrived about daylight on the 13th; finding there a considerable portion of the general trains of the different corps, this corps was halted until they were all under way, when we started for Jones’ Crossing, on the Chickahominy, by way of Baltimore Cross-Roads and Olive Church, and halted about three-quarters of a mile from the crossing. The pontoon bridge being occupied with crossing the Sixth Corps we bivouacked here for the


++For portion of report [here omitted] covering operations from May 4 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.905.


night and crossed at an early hour on the following morning, the 14th. The corps was concentrated near Jordan’s house, where it halted till the road was cleared of the Sixth Corps trains, when it moved out by way of Vaiden’s, Clopton’s, and Tyler’s Mill to its position on the right of the Sixth Corps, our right resting near the Jones house, on an arm of the James River, the line extending in a northwesterly direction until it joined the line of the Sixth Corps. This position was fortified.

At about 8 p.m. on the 15th we started under orders to re-enforce Generals Hancock and Smith near Petersburg, crossing the James River on the pontoon bridge above Fort Powhatan. We marched up the road nearest the river until we reached the Old Court-House, when we turned to the left, our advance reaching a position occupied by our troops about 10 a.m. on the 16th. About 1 p.m., after a consultation and reconnaissance with General Barnard, our troops were placed in position on the extreme left. Soon after this orders were received to be in readiness to support an attack which was to be made at 4 p.m. by a part of General Hancock’s corps. During this attack General Griffin’s brigade, of General Potter’s division, was ordered to report to General Barlow. His place as support was supplied by Hartranft’s brigade, of Willcox’s division. During the night heavy skirmishing was kept up, but nothing of importance occurred in our front. General Potter was directed to make his dispositions to attack at a very early hour in the morning, and, if possible, carry the enemy’s line in his immediate front just on the left of the Second Corps. The First Division, General Ledlie, was to support the attack.

At 3 o’clock on the morning of the 17th the two brigades of General Potter dashed forward in most gallant style, carrying all the lines and redoubts of the enemy on the ridge upon which stood the Shands house, capturing 4 pieces of artillery, 5 colors, 600 prisoners, and 1,500 stand of small-arms. Our people pushed forward until they found the enemy in a new and very strong position, when General Potter took up a line in advance of that which he had just carried, pushing his pickets close up to the enemy’s new line. There was considerable delay in getting up the troops of the First Division owing to the obstacles which intervened between this division and General Potter’s, the whole ground being covered by fallen timber, over which it was very difficult to pass in the dark. Had it been possible to have supported General Potter’s gallant charge, the victory would have been probably much more decisive. Soon after daylight General Willcox was directed to attack the enemy’s works in front of the Shands house. His two brigades were formed in the ravine which intervened between the Shands house and the enemy’s lines. A misunderstanding in reference to the point of attack caused some delay. Soon after, however, the troops were in position to move in the direction contemplated. General Hartranft’s brigade, leading, dashed forward in a most vigorous manner, its left reaching the enemy’s artillery from the enemy, especially to our left and the great loss which it inflicted, his brigade was compelled to give way to the right, a portion of them falling back through the line of General Barlow’s division. Colonel Christ’s brigade, which had gained a position about midway between the ravine and the enemy’s line, bravely held its ground during the day under a most galling fire of the enemy, which resulted in a severe loss. On the afternoon of this day, say at 4 o’clock, General Ledlie’s division was directed to assault the enemy’s position at about the same point, which it did in a handsome manner. Supported by artillery, which had been placed in position, the line was carried and held

till 10 o’clock at night, when his advance was driven in by an overpowering force of the enemy, our men being much fatigued from long marches and constant fighting. A portion of Colonel Christ’s brigade, of the Third Division, participated in this attack, and General Crawford, of the Eighth Corps, rendered very efficient aid on the left. We captured in this action 100 prisoners and 1 stand of colors.

A general attack was ordered by the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac for 4 a.m. on the 18th, and General Willcox was ordered to take the advance of this corps, supported by General Potter. On pushing out the skirmishers in advance of the attacking column it was discovered that the enemy had withdrawn from the line on the open ground in front of the Shands house, but their skirmishers were found in the woods that intervened between it and the Taylor house. General Willcox’s division, with the First Brigade of the Second Division, steadily advanced through the woods under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery, driving the enemy back to the cut in the railroad beyond the Taylor house. From the open ground in front of this house it was discovered that the enemy had a strongly intrenched line beyond the railroad around the base of Cemetery Hill, which line bore off in the direction of the Hare house, crossing to this side of the railroad at a point nearly opposite our right, the enemy’s skirmishers still occupying the railroad cut as well as a deep ravine which crossed the cut at a small angle immediately in our front. After some very severe fighting on the part of these two divisions the enemy was driven from a portion of the cut. At 3 p.m. a general attack was ordered by the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac, which resulted on the part of this corps in driving the enemy entirely out of the cut and ravine, and establishing our extreme advance within about 100 yards of the enemy’s main line beyond the railroad. No better fighting has been done during the war than was done by the divisions of Generals Potter and Willcox during this attack, the railroad cut and ravine presenting formidable obstacles to the advance. General Parke, my chief of staff, had the more immediate directions of these divisions during that day. The troops of General Hancock, on our right, and General Warren, on our left, fully co-operated with us in this engagement. Our losses in the engagements of the 16th, 17th, and 18th were very severe, among which were many of our best commanding officers of brigade and regiments. The advanced position gained by us was held as an intrenched skirmish line, and our main line between the Second and Fifth Corps passed by the Taylor house. In a short time the advanced skirmish line was strengthened and manned to such an extent as to make it in reality our main line; covered ways built to it by the division commanders, whilst formidable forts for artillery were constructed upon the main line. Our close proximity to the enemy caused them to keep up a continuous fire upon us of musketry and artillery of more or less intensity for the succeeding forty-two days, with a daily loss of from 30 to 60 killed and wounded. General Potter’s division held the bulk of the line for the first few days, after which the general positions of the divisions were as follows: The Third Division, General Willcox, on the left; the Second Division, General Potter, in the center, and the First Division, General Ledlie, on the right.

On the 26th of June a letter was received from General Potter, stating that he believed a mine could be run under the enemy’s works, immediately in our front, by which a breach could be made, if it was thought advisable. The suggestion was first made by some non-commissioned officers and privates of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Regiment [Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants], which was composed chiefly of

miners from Schuylkill County, Pa., the colonel himself being a skillful and experienced mining engineer. After consultation with General Potter he was authorized to commence the work, and the fact was reported to the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, who did not specially approve of the work, but rather consented to its advancement. It was pushed forward to completion, meeting with many serious natural obstacles, as well as much personal discouragement.

On the 3rd day of July a letter was received from the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac requesting an opinion as to the possibility of success of an attack upon the enemy from our front, which resulted in the correspondence now in possession of the commanding general. For a few days at different times during the month of July General Ferrero’s division returned to the corps, one of these periods occurring soon after it was understood that the corps might be ordered to attack, and General Ferrero was informed that in such an event he would be called upon to lead. After considerable conversation upon the subject, the formation suggested by him for the attack by his division was approved, and he was directed to drill his troops in such a manner as to familiarize them with this mode of attack, which he did.

On the 18th of July General Potter reported that the mine was completed, and the fact was reported to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. Among the records of this epoch are some which bear upon the size of the charge of the mine, the fuses necessary to explode it, and the time of explosion, copies of which, if desired by the general commanding, can be furnished.

On the 26th of July a letter was received requesting a statement of the plan of attack proposed by the corps, the answer to which was as follows.*

On the 28th in conversation with the commanding general he stated that the formation of the troops, as well as the designation of the leading division, did not meet with his approval. After much conversation on the subject the major-general commanding said that he was to visit Lieutenant-General Grant that afternoon, and that a definite answer would be given in the evening.

The next day, the 29th, not far from noon, the major-general commanding called upon me at corps headquarters, saying that it had been decided not to allow General Ferrero’s division to take the advance; neither did he approve of the formation which was proposed after the attacking division should have passed over the breach in the enemy’s lines. After a full discussion of the subject, in which it was urged upon the commanding general that the three white divisions were not at that time in a condition to make a dashing charge, owing to the arduous services and extreme trials which they had been subjected to for the forty days previous, which fact had been officially reported to me by my inspector-general, Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, and that the officers and men of the colored division had been drilled for and expected to make the charge, he adhered to his decision, and instructions were at once given to change the mode of attack to correspond with his views. Nearly the entire night was occupied in making the necessary changes. The result of the attack of the 30th has already been reported.+

The losses of the corps during this epoch were as follows: First Division, 253 killed, 1,048 wounded, 444 missing; Second Division, 173


*For communication [here omitted], see p.136.

+See p.526.


killed, 744 wounded, 22 missing; Fourth Division, 176 killed, 688 wounded, 801 missing.

It may not be amiss to say that all the general movements of this corps were in accordance with directions received from the lieutenant-general commanding the armies until May 24, after which they were directed by the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac.

I beg to refer to the reports of the division and brigade commanders for more detailed information of the movements of the troops. The reports of the First Division are meager, owing to the many changes in the commanders, the first having been killed, the second relieved at his own request, and the third having made only partial reports. Great losses were also sustained in the brigade commanders of this division, one of whom, General W. F. Bartlett, a most brave and efficient officer, was severely wounded at the battle of the Wilderness, and soon after his recovery was taken prisoner in the fight before Petersburg on the 30th of July, together with Colonel E. G. Marshall, commanding Third Brigade, in which action they had both displayed their usual conspicuous courage and bravery. I also refer to the reports of the division and brigade commanders for instances of good conduct as well as a statement of the casualties among prominent officers in their separate commands. I am indebted to these officers and their commands for their hearty co-operation and cheerful subordination during this most trying campaign, through which they have endured long and wearisome marches, exposure, and privations, and have shown an heroic courage and firmness on the field which entitles them to a nation’s gratitude.

When this corps marched over the mountains from East Tennessee it was composed of less than 6,000 veterans, and upon this as a nucleus the corps was recruited to a strength of 24,000 men, thus making the preponderance of raw troops very large, among whom were many heavy artillery and dismounted cavalry regiments, in which regiments considerable dissatisfaction naturally existed at first. They were concentrated at Annapolis, and marched from there to Alexandria, where they received their transportation trains, which trains were newly organized and consequently harder to manage and more easily broken down. From this point they marched to engage in a campaign side by side with the Army of the Potomac, which was thoroughly organized, equipped, and disciplined in all of its departments, yet the services of this corps, with these disadvantages, will compare favorably with the distinguished services of the brave veterans who compose the Army of the Potomac. The new infantry regiments, as well as the heavy artillery and dismounted cavalry regiments who were necessarily and properly called upon to do infantry duty, soon became as steady and reliable as the older regiments, displaying a courage which rendered them honorable associates of the veterans of the Ninth Corps who had rendered such conspicuous services in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and East Tennessee. In this campaign as in all others the corps has stood by its guns, never having lost a piece of artillery.

General Ferrero’s colored division, by its faithful and courageous deportment during the campaign, both on the march and in action, has demonstrated the wisdom of the Government in organizing this class of troops, and has given great hope for the future elevation and usefulness of the colored race.

Major General John G. Parke joined the corps from sick leave at the commencement of the campaign before he was able to assume active command of his division and was detailed as chief of staff, in which

capacity he rendered most valuable and co-operative aid, always sharing in the duties and responsibilities of the entire command.

Major J. St. Clair Morton, of the U. S. Engineer Corps, reported to me for duty about the 16th of May. He was always conspicuous for his untiring industry, zeal, and efficiency, as well as for his distinguished gallantry. He fell mortally wounded while with the advance of our attacking column before Petersburg on the 17th of June.

To the members of my personal staff and the chiefs of the corps departments I am under great obligations for their hearty co-operation and their courageous, prompt, and faithful execution of orders. Through the entire campaign they have shown a noble devotion to the service, answered all calls made upon them, and endured fatigue, exposure, and privations with cheerfulness and alacrity. They are as follows:

Aides-de-camp-Major William Cutting, Major J. L. Van Buren, Major P. M. Lydig, Captain D. A. Pell, Captain Charles G. Hutton, Lieutenant Frederick Van Vliet, Third Cavalry.

Adjutant-general’s department-Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Richmond, Major Edward M. Neill, Captain D. R. Larned, private secretary.

Inspector-general’s department-Lieutenant Colonel L. H. Peirce, from June 4; Captain John A. Morris, previous to this date.

Subsistence department-Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Goodrich, till June 19; Lieutenant Colonel John H. Coale, from this date.

Medical department-Surg. J. E. MacDonald, medical director; Surg. J. Harris, medical inspector.

Ordnance department-Captain W. H. Harris.

Commissary of musters-Captain H. R. Rathbone, Twelfth Infantry.

Chief of artillery-Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe, from May 30; Lieutenant S. N. Benjamin, Second Artillery, till wounded, May 12.

Signal officer-Captain J. C. Paine,

Provost-marshal-Major M. Cogswell, Eighth U. S. Infantry.

The total losses of the corps to the 30th of July were as follows:

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Bvt. Major General SETH WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS, Before Petersburg, Va., August 13, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this corps in the engagement of July 30 last:

It will be necessary to advert to the preliminary operation of running a mine under the enemy’s works. This project was proposed by Lieutenant

Colonel Henry Pleasants, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, to General Potter, who submitted the proposal to me soon after our sitting down before this place. It met my hearty consent and support. It was commenced June 25, prosecuted with great zeal through a difficult soil [sometimes of the nature of quicksand, at others a heavy marl], and with no tools but the ordinary intrenching spade and pick. The main gallery was finished July 17, 522 feet in length. It was then found that the enemy were at work in immediate proximity, and its further prosecution was conducted with great caution. Lateral galleries 37 and 38 feet in length, running under and nearly parallel to the enemy’s works, were completed July 23, and the mine was ready for the charge. This, by orders from the general commanding, was put it on the 27th. It consisted of about 8,000 pounds of powder. Great praise is due to Colonel Pleasants and the officers and men of his regiment for the patient labor cheerfully bestowed on a work which deserved and met complete success.

On the 26th of July, at the request of the commanding general, I submitted a plan of assault, which contemplated the placing of the colored division of this corps in the advance, that division not being wearied by long and arduous duties in the trenches, as were the other divisions. A certain formation of troops was also suggested. This plan was not adopted as to these two points, and the troops were put in in accordance with the orders of the commanding general.

I received orders from the general commanding to spring the mine at 3.30 a.m. The troops were in position at that hour, massed behind the portion of our line nearest the point to be reached. The fuse, however, failed to ignite at a point where it had been spliced, and delay occurred. It was reignited, and the mine sprung at 4.45 a.m. Immediately the leading brigade of the First Division [the Second], under Colonel Marshall, started for the charge. There was a delay of perhaps five minutes in removing the abatis. Clearing that, the brigade advanced rapidly to the fort that had been mined, now a crater of large proportions and an obstacle of great formidableness. Mounting a crest of at least 12 feet above the level of the ground, our men found before them a huge aperture of 150 feet in length by 60 in width, and 25 or 30 in depth, the sides of loose pulverized sand piled up precipitately, from which projected huge blocks of clay. To cross such an obstacle and preserve regimental organization was a sheer impossibility. The lines of the enemy on either side were not single, but involuted and complex, filled with pits, traverses, and bomb-proofs, forming a labyrinth as difficult of passage as the crater itself.

After the training of the previous six weeks it is not to be wondered at that the men should have sought shelter in these defenses. Their regimental organizations were broken, and the officers undertook to reform before advancing. One regiment, the Second Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, advanced some 100 yards beyond the crater, but, not supported, fell back.

It is reported that the enemy on my left opposite the Fifth Corps, on the explosion of the mine, left their lines and ran to the rear. But few shots were fired from that direction on the head of my column; it was otherwise on the right. An infantry fire was opened at once from the enemy’s line up to within 200 feet of the crater; and as soon as the guns could be brought to bear artillery was opened upon our columns from across the ravine on our immediate right and from several works at a distance in front of the extreme right of the old line of the Ninth Corps.

The First Brigade of the First Division immediately followed the Second. The two filled the crater, seized part of the line of pits to the right, and began to cover themselves from the fire of the enemy’s artillery, now opening from the crest in their immediate front.

Before all of the regiments of the last brigade of the First Division had left our line, at about 5 a.m., the Second Division commenced its advance on the right, the Second Brigade [General Griffin] leading. The distance to be traversed to reach the line of rebel works was 130 yards. The head of the column was somewhat deflected by the enemy’s fire, and borne to the left, so that it struck the line near the crater, and the men of the two divisions became, in some degree, intermingled. Several attempts were made to advance, which resulted only in the gain of a little ground to the right. General Willcox had, meanwhile, thrown in part of a brigade to the left of the crater, the remainder halting till the First Division should advance. Part of the Second Brigade, Colonel Bliss [Second Division], was also thrown forward into the enemy’s line. The other regiments were held until the lines should be partially cleared.

At about 6.30 a.m. orders were again sent to the division commanders not to halt at the works, but to advance at once to the crest without waiting for mutual support. General Potter’s division [the Second] was at that time forming for an attack on the right, but under these orders its direction was changed to the front. Its formation in front of the lines was exceedingly difficult, owing to the heavy fire from the crest and from the troops the enemy had now brought up and placed behind the covered way in the ravine. The division charged and almost reached the summit of the hill, but, unsupported, it fell back, taking shelter behind another covered way on the right. Meanwhile the few regiments of that division that had not previously left our lines advanced, seizing for a considerable distance the enemy’s lines on the right. General Willcox, on the left, found an advance impossible; his men dug from the ruins two guns and held the left flank. Peremptory orders from the commanding general directed me to throw in all my troops and direct them against the crest. Under these orders I directed the Fourth [colored] Division to advance, which division I had hitherto held back, under the belief that those new troops could not be used to advantage in the crowded condition of the portion of the enemy’s line held by us. The column was thrown forward and advanced gallantly over the slope of the crater, though by this time the ground was swept by a steady fire of artillery and infantry. A part of the column was deflected to the right and charged and captured a portion of the enemy’s line with a stand of colors and some prisoners. The division, disorganized by passing the pits, crowded with men of the other divisions, then reformed as well as was possible beyond the crater and attempted to take the hill; were met at the outset by a counter-charge of the enemy, broke in disorder to the rear, passed through the crater and lines on the right, throwing into confusion and drawing off with them many of the white troops, and ran to our own lines. The enemy regained a portion of his line on the right. This was about 8.45 a.m. But not all the colored troops retired; some held the pits, from behind which they had advanced, severely checking the enemy till they were nearly all killed.

I believe that no raw troops could have been expected to have behaved better. Before reaching the point from which they had formed to charge they had been shattered by the enemy’s fire, broken by the exceedingly difficult passage of the enemy’s lines, and disheartened by the inability of the other divisions to advance.

At the time of the assault of the Fourth Division General Willcox threw out his Second Brigade, Colonel Humphrey’s, and took an additional portion of the line on the left. Soon after the repulse, an assault from the front was made on the crater; it was gallantly repelled with great loss to the enemy, none of them advancing to our lines except those who surrendered themselves.

At this time the enemy had planted artillery at several points on the hill, and had gained the range of the crater and lines with great accuracy, his mortar firing being especially destructive.

At 9.15 a.m. I received with regret a peremptory order from the general commanding to withdraw my troops from the enemy’s line. The order was sent into the crater at 12.20 p.m. with instructions to brigade commanders on the spot to consult and determine the hour and manner of retiring. I directed General Ferrero to immediately commence a covered way to the crater, to meet one already begun from there. The men in the crater and lines adjoining had become exhausted with the severity of the day’s work. They had made several and had repulsed three distinct assaults, and had fought hand to hand with the enemy for the possession of his pits. They were suffering severely under a hot sun from want of water.

Finding that their position was not to be held, the general determined, in order to save further loss of life, upon an evacuation of the lines. A message to that effect, requesting that a heavy fire of infantry and artillery to right and left should be opened from the old lines, to distract the attention of the enemy, was on its way to me when another assault of the enemy was made. Seeing its preparation, and knowing their men to be discouraged by the proposed relinquishment of all the advantages gained at such cost, and disheartened that they were to expect no further support, Generals Hartranft and Griffin directed their troops to withdraw. It is feared the order was not clearly understood in the crater, as most of the troops, and all of the wounded, then lying there in great number, were captured.

During the engagement the batteries of the corps did efficient service, especially in keeping down the fire of the rebel fort on the left and in annoyance of the enemy’s guns on the right. Twenty-three commanders of regiments were lost on that day-4 killed, 15 wounded, and 4 missing; 2 commanders of brigade-General W. F. Bartlett and Colonel E. G. Marshall-were taken prisoners.

In a report so hurriedly made up, it will be impossible for me to mention the many acts of heroism which characterized the action; and I will only say that my entire command, officers and men, did all that gallant men could do under the circumstances.

To my staff-Brigadier General Julius White, chief of staff; Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Richmond, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant Colonel C. G. Loring, jr.,assistant inspector-general; Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Monroe, chief of artillery; Surg. John E. MacDonald, medical director; Surg. James Harris, medical inspector; Major E. M. Neill, assistant adjutant-general; Major Philip M. Lydig, assistant adjutant-general; Major J. L. Van Buren, aide-de-camp; Major William Cutting, aide-de-camp; Captain W. H. Harris, U. S. Army, chief of ordnance; Captain H. R. Rathbone, commissary of musters; Captain Duncan A. Pell, aide-de-camp; Captain J. C. Paine, signal officer; Captain Charles E. Mallam, volunteer aide; Lieutenant D. S. Remington, acting assistant quartermaster-I must express my thanks for their activity and gallantry during the action.

Colonel Loring, Major Cutting, and Major Van Buren were detailed to accompany divisions, and discharged their duties in the most faithful and gallant manner.

I must again express my thanks to Colonel Pleasants and the men of his regiment for their skillful and meritorious services.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

A D D E N D A .

No. 24. June 18, 1864.

The commanding general takes great pride in assuring this command of the high appreciation in which their services, after the fatigues of the recent movement, are held at the headquarters of the army, and quotes with pleasure the expression used by the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac in speaking of the brilliant assault on the morning of the 17th. He writes: “It affords me great satisfaction to congratulate you and your gallant corps on the successful assault on the morning of the 17th. Knowing the wearied condition of your men from the night march of over twenty two miles and the continued movement through the night of the 16th, their persistence and success is highly creditable.”

The commanding general can only add that in this, as in the previous and succeeding events of this unexampled campaign, the Ninth Corps has through every trial invariably proved true to its history and to its promise.

By command of Major-General Burnside:


Assistant Adjutant-General.


Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: In compliance with paragraph 6 of Special Orders, No. 279, current series, from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I have the honor to submit the following report of guns captured or lost from May 4 to November 1, 1864, by this corps:

First Division-No guns captured or lost.

Second Division-Two guns captured by the Thirty-sixth and Fifty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Vetran Volunteers, one by the Eleventh New Hampshire, and one by the Seventeenth Vermont Volunteers, before Petersburg, Va., June 17, 1864.

Third Division-No guns captured or lost.

Artillery Brigade-No guns captured or lost.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

Major General A. E. BURNSIDE,
Commanding Ninth Corps:

GENERAL: Herewith I inclose a copy* of the charges and specifications this day sent to the lieutenant-general commanding for transmission to the President of the United States. I have also to inform you that owing to recent occurrences I have felt myself compelled to ask that you be relieved from duty with this army.+

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.



Whilst I have the greatest respect for the officers composing the court ordered by Special Orders, Was Department, No. 258, to examine into the affair of the 30th instant [ultimo], I beg to submit that it should be composed of officers who do not belong to this army.

Whilst I am most willing and feel it to be my due to have the fullest investigation, I should not under the circumstances demand one, nor seek to press the matter to an issue in any degree to the general commanding the Army of the Potomac. I am ready to await the verdict of time. But if an investigation is to be had, I feel that I have a right to ask that it be made by officers constituting the court held command in the supporting columns which were not brought into action on that day. The judge-advocate is a member of General Meade’s staff.


*See p.174.

+See p.172.


General Meade has also preferred charges against me upon which I desire to be tried.

As the court convenes on Monday, the 8th instant, I respectfully request an answer may be returned as soon as possible.



WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, August 8, 1864-11 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

Your telegram of the 6th has been laid before the President, who directs me to say that while he would like to conform to your wishes, the detail for the Court of Inquiry having already been ordered he does not see that any evil can result to you. The action of the Board of Inquiry will be merely to collect facts for his information. No charges or even imputations have reached him or the Department in respect to you.

It is not known here except by your telegram that General Meade has made against you any charges. He directs me further to assure you that you may feel entire confidence in his fairness and justice.


Secretary of War.


  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pages 521-532
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