|Page 5||Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.|
FOR MONROE, VA., April 2, 1864.
Major General B. F. BUTLER:
GENERAL: In the spring campaign, which it is desirable shall commence at as early a day as practicable, it is proposed to have co-operative of all the armies in the field, as far as this object can be accomplished.
It will not be possible our armies into two or three large ones to act as so many units, owing to the absolute necessity of holding on to the territory already taken from the enemy. But, generally speaking, concentration can be practically effected by armies moving to the interior of the enemy's country from the territory they have to guard. By such movements they interpose themselves between the enemy and the country to be guarded, thereby reducing the number necessary to guard important points, or at least occupy the attention of a part of the enemy's force, if no greater object is gained. Lee's army and Richmond being the greater objects toward which our attention must be directed in the next campaign it is desirable to unite all the force we can against them. The necessity of covering Washington with the Army of the Potomac, and of covering your department with your army, makes it impossible to unite these forces at the beginning of any move. I propose, therefore, what comes nearest this of anything that seems practicable: The Army of the Potomac will act from its present base, Lee's army being the objective point. You will collect all the forces from your command that can be spared from garrison duty-I should say not less than 20,000 effective men - to operate on the south side of James River, Richmond being your objective point. To the force you already have will be added about 10,000 men from South Carolina, under Major-General Gillmore, who will command them in person. Major General W. F. Smith is ordered to report to you, to command the troops sent into the field from your own department. General Gillmore will be ordered to report to you at Fortress Monroe, with all the troops on transports, by the 18th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable. Should you not receive notice by that time to move, you will make such disposition of them and your other forces as you may deem best calculated to deceive the enemy as to the real move to be made.
When you are notified to move, take City Point with as much force as possible. Fortify or rather intrench at once, and concentrate all your troops for the field there as rapidly as you can. From City Point directions cannot be given at this time for your further movements.
The fact that has already been stated - that is, that Richmond is to be your objective point,and that there is to be co-operation between your force and the Army of the Potomac - must be your guide. This indicates the necessity of your holding close to the south bank of the James River as you advance. Then, should the enemy be forced into his intrenchments in Richmond, the Army of the Potomac would follow, an by means of transports the two armies would become a unit. All the minor details of your advance are left entirely to your direction. If, however, you think it practicable to use your cavalry south of you, so as to cut the railroad about Hicksford about the time of the general advance, it would be of immense advantage. You will please forward for my information, at the earliest practicable day, all orders, details, and instructions you may give for the execution of this order.
U. S. GRANT,
On the 16th these instructions were substantially reiterated.* On the 19th [18th+], in order to secure full co-operation between his army and that of General Meade, he was informed that I expected him to move from Fort Monroe the same day that General Meade moved from Culpeper. The exact time I was to telegraph him as soon as it was fixed, and that it would not be earlier than the 27th of April; that it was my intention to fight Lee between Culpeper and Richmond if he would stand. Should he, however, fall back into Richmond, I would follow up and make a junction with his (General Butler's) army on the James River; that, could I be certain he would be able to invest Richmond on the south side so as to have his left resting on the James above the city, I would form the junction there; that circumstances might make this course advisable anyhow; that he should use every exertion to secure footing as far
*See Vol. XXXIII, p.885.
+See Vol. XXXIII, p.904.
|Page 5||Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.|