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Chapter 2: the overture. Grant's general plan involved an alternative: to cut Lee's communications or turn the right flank of his entrenched line, and in case of the success of either, to take Petersburg by direct front attack. To carry out this plan he appointed Sheridan with the cavalry of the Army of the Shenandoah, two divisions, under General Merritt, and the cavalry division now commanded by General Crook, formerly belonging to the Army of the Potomac. He was to have the Fifth Corps as infantry support, to be followed, if necessary, by the Second Corps. General Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, was to accompany the movement. The former places of these corps on the left of our entrenchments before Petersburg, were to be taken by troops of the Army of the James. On the right of these, our Sixth and Ninth Corps were to hold their old positions in front of Petersburg, ready to break through the enemy's works if they should be stripped somewhat of troops by the nec