About the 8th of September, in a despatch to Anderson
, Gen. Lee
said: ‘I have been desirous for some time of recalling you to me. But my unwillingness to diminish the force in the valley has prevented.
A victory over Sheridan
would materially change the aspect of affairs.’
On the 8th of September, Sheridan
telegraphed to Gen. Grant
: ‘I have not deemed it best to attack the enemy, but have watched closely to press him hard so soon as he commences to detach troops to Richmond
This was the tenor of your telegram to me after I took up the defensive.’
On the 9th, Gen. Grant
replies: ‘I would not have you make an attack with the advantage against you, but would prefer just the course you seem to be pursuing; i. e. pressing closely upon the enemy, and when he moves, follow him up, being ready at all times to pounce upon him, if he detaches any considerable force.’
Now in our command there was a general recollection that the nucleus of our company was mustered upon the 29th of August, 1861, as the third anniversary of that day approached.
Our captain was absent, but our second in command called the attention of the corps commander to the matter of the expiration of the term of service of the company.
Now the question was raised, whether our service as United States troops commenced when we were mustered in Massachusetts
, or when we departed for the seat of war. If at the latter moment, then we were to remain until the third of October.
This question seems to have presented no grave difficulties to the mind of the corps commander, for he directed that all those men who were mustered on the 29th of August, 1861, should be discharged on the third anniversary of that day, and that men who were mustered at different subsequent dates should be discharged as fast as their terms of service expired.
Accordingly, forty men of the first group departed from camp on the 29th, for New England
But before there was any further discharge of members of our company, an order was received at corps headquarters, to hold the balance of the three years men, until the third of October.
This unquestionably meant another campaign.
No man sent by Grant
to the valley to direct military affairs in that quarter was destined for a lay figure, and certainly not when that man was Phil Sheridan
If we remained inactive eighteen days longer, it