He immediately charged, as directed by Sheridan
; well knowing the inferiority of his force, but determined to detain the enemy, at whatever cost, until supports on our side could arrive.
The result justified the daring.
was repulsed; but meantime Custer
, with his division of horse, struck again, farther on; gaining the road at Sailor's creek — a petty tributary of the Appomattox
— where, Crook
coming promptly to his support, he pierced the Rebel
line of march, destroying 400 wagons and taking 16 guns, with many prisoners.
's corps, following the train, was thus cut off from Lee
. Its advance was now gallantly charged by Col. Stagg
's brigade; and thus time was gained for the arrival of the leading division (Seymour
's) of the 6th (Wright
's) corps, pursuing the Confederate
rear; when Ewell
recoiled, fighting stoutly, till Wheaton
's division also came up, and, a part of our infantry, advancing, were momentarily repelled by a deadly fire.
But the odds were too great: Ewell
's veterans — inclosed between our cavalry and the 6th corps, and sternly charged by the latter, without a chance of escape — threw down their arms and surrendered.
him-self and four other Generals
were among the prisoners, of whom over 6,000 were taken this day.
Ere this, Ord
, reaching out from Jetersville
farther west, had struck the head of Lee
's marching column near Farmville
, as it was preparing to cross the river.
's advance consisted of two regiments of infantry and a squadron of cavalry under Brig.-Gen. Theodore Read
, who at once attacked, defying immense odds, in the hope of arresting the flight of the Rebels
, and burning the bridges before them.
But this they could not permit, and, rallying in over-whelming strength, they hurled their assailants aside with heavy loss, clearing their way to the bridges; Read being among our killed.
His attack, however, had arrested the enemy's march, compelling him to lose precious time.
, during tile ensuing evening, crossed the Appomattox
on bridges at Farmville
, and, marching all night, he seemed to have left his pursuers well in the rear.
But, while his men were fainting and falling by the way, his animals were dying of hunger. ( “Soldiers,” says a cynic, “ may live on enthusiasm; but horses must have oats.” ) His remaining handful of cavalry was useless; his few residuary guns were yet too heavy for the gaunt beasts who drew them.
Though his van was miles away, his rear was barely across the river before dawn;1
and the bridges were only fired, not consumed, when the van of our 2d corps (Humphreys
's)--which had now taken the lead — rushed up and saved that on the wagon-road.
The rail-road bridge was destroyed.
's division was soon over the river, expecting a fight, as the enemy threatened it; but there was only a rearguard left, and they soon retired; blowing up a bridge-head, and abandoning 18 guns.
During the night of the 6th, many of the chief officers
of the fleeing army met around a bivouac-fire to discuss their desperate situation.
Upon a full survey, they unanimously concluded