severe fighting the enemy was stopped. Generals Crawford and Ayres re-formed their troops behind this line. Information of these events was sent to General Humphreys early in their occurrence,and he sent General Miles' division to close the space between his left and General Griffin's right. One brigade of this, also, advanced to the attack of the enemy, but was at first driven back. At 1 P. M., I made the following report to General Webb:
General Ayres made an advance with a small force at 10 A. M., which the enemy drove back and followed up in heavy force, compelling both Ayres and Crawford to fall back on Griffin, and, of course, in much confusion. Griffin's troops held the enemy at the Run west of the Plank-road. General Miles' division1 afterward attacked the enemy and were forced back on my right. My skirmish line in front of Griffin (most of it) has advanced on my left. I am going to send forward a brigade, supported by all I can get of Crawford's and Ayres' divisions, and attack, swinging on our right. Arrangements are being made for this, and it will take place about 1.45 P. M., if the enemy does not attack sooner.Owing to some difficulties in crossing the Run, this advance which was thus made with the whole available corps, took place a little after the time specified above. General Humphrey's division, under General Miles, also advanced against the enemy about the same period on our right, but the movement was not made in close connection with mine. It is my intention to enter more into details when I receive the official reports of my division commanders. At 3.40 P. M., I wrote, from the White Oak Road, the following dispatch to General Webb:
We have driven the enemy, I think, into his breastworks. The prisoners report General Lee here to-day, and also that their breastworks are filled with troops. We have prisoners from a portion of Pickett's and Johnson's divisions. General Chamberlain's brigade acted with much gallantry in their advance, capturing nearly the entire Fifty-sixth Virginia regiment, with its flags.We met with but little opposition in this advance, so that only this one brigade was earnestly engaged. The loss to the corps, in killed and wounded, from the morning of March 29th to the close of the battle of White Oak Ridge, was eighteen hundred, and included several distinguished soldiers.
Operations to succor General Sheridan.Thus far my operations were independent of those of General Sheridan, but at this point they came into direct relation to him, and the narrative will be given in more detail. It must be borne in mind, however, that I acted under General Meade's orders till daybreak of the morning of April 1. About 5 P. M., March 31, while on the White Oak Road, I received the following from General Webb, chief of staff:
Secure your position, and protect, as well as possible, your left flank. Word has been sent to Sheridan, and it is believed that Sheridan is pushing up. General Humphreys will be ordered to push up and to connect with your right. You might, if you think it worth while, push a small force down the White Oak Road, and try to communicate with Sheridan, but they must take care not to fire into his advance.The rattle of musketry could now be heard south-west from us, which seemed to us to be receding, and which led us to think the enemy was driving our cavalry. I then ordered General Griffin to send General Bartlett, with his brigade, directly across the country, so as to attack the enemy on the flank, and I sent Major Cope, of my staff, with him. At 5.15 P. M. I received the following from General Webb, which directed what before had only been suggested:
The Major-General commanding directs that you push a brigade down the White Oak Road to open it for General Sheridan, and support the same if necessary. The firing is so near that the General presumes that the command will not have far to go. The distance you will push out must depend on the circumstances of the movement and the support you can give them.Thus, at the time when to General Meade it seemed “the firing is so near,” it plainly sounded to us more and more distant, indicating that our cavalry was falling back, of which I soon had confirmation. At 5.50 P. M., I sent the following to General Webb:
I have just seen an officer and a sergeant from General Sheridan's command, who were cut off in an attack by the enemy and escaped. From what they say, our cavalry was attacked about noon by cavalry and infantry, and rapidly driven back, two divisions-Crook's and Deven's — being engaged. The firing seemed to recede from me toward Dinwiddie C. H. I have sent General Bartlett and my escort in that direction, but I think they cannot be in time. I hear cannonading that I think is from near Dinwiddie C. H.About 6.30 P. M., I received the following from General Webb:
A staff officer of General Merritt's has made a report that the enemy has penetrated between Sheridan's main command and your position — this is a portion of Pickett's division. Let the force ordered to move out the White Oak Road move down the Boydton Plank-road as promptly as possible.The force I sent under General Bartlett had now been gone an hour, and to recall it would have required two hours at least for it to reach the Boydton Plank-road, and make it too late for use before dark. My artillery had all been left on the Boydton Plank-road on account of the mud, which had compelled me to do so, and General Griffin had left General Pearson there, with three regiments of infantry