previous next


“The division to be sent to Sheridan will start at once. You are to be held free to act within the Boydton Plank-road. General Humphreys will hold to the road and the return.”

To this I immediately replied:

Your dispatch of 9.20 is just received. I had already sent out my orders, of which I send You a copy. You directed General Griffin to be sent to General Sheridan at once. It will take so much time to get his command together that I withdrew the other divisions first, they being unengaged; but this will not retard General Griffin. The bridge is broken on the Plank-road, and will take I hardly know how long to make practicable for infantry. I sent an officer (Captain Benyaurd, Engineer) to examine it as soon as your first order was received. He now reports it not passable for infantry. It requires a span of forty feet to complete the bridge, and is too deep to ford. Nevertheless, I will use everything I can get to make it passable by the time General Griffin's division reaches it.

General Griffin's division, in addition to the delay of assembling General Bartlett's brigade, had to withdraw a picket line in front of the enemy, and, if it moved first, the others, pending it, had to relieve this picket line.

The bridge over Gravelly Run we had found broken by the enemy on our occupation of the Plank-road on the 29th. As I was required, to operate independently of the cavalry, and protect my own flanks, it was desirable to me (the bridge being in my rear, as I faced the enemy on the White Oak Road), that it should remain broken. Even the dispatch of this evening from General Meade, which I received at 8 P. M. (previously given), would have justified me in destroying the bridge; had it yet been standing intact. I had no pontoons with me now; the supply with which I started on the 29th had been used in bridging Rowanty Creek and the Quaker Road crossing of Gravelly Run, and the boats and engineers were kept there for the service of the trains.

At 10.15 P. M., I received, by telegraph, the following dispatch from General Webb, written 9.40 P. M.

“Since your dispatch of 8.20 P. M., the General commanding finds that it is impossible for Bartlett to join Griffin in time to move with any promptitude down the Boydton Plank-road. He therefore directs that you send another good brigade to join Griffin, in the place of Bartlett's, in this movement. Sheridan was attacked by five brigades from Gordon's corps-three from Pickett's; possibly by two from Gordon's, one of them being Hoke's old brigade.”

This dispatch showed that my previous one, giving the condition of the bridge at Gravelly Run, had not yet been received. I deemed it would show, when it was, that General Bartlett could join General Griffin before the bridge would be passable, and that Griffin could thus reach Sheridan as soon as any one, and require no change in my previous order; and, while waiting the result of the reception of the knowledge of the state of the crossing by General Meade, I, at 11.50 P. M., received the following dispatch from him, written 10.15 P. M.:

Send Griffin promptly as ordered, by the Boydton Plank-road, and move the balance of your command by the road Bartlett is on, and strike the enemy's rear, who is between him and Dinwiddie C. H. General Sheridan reports his position as north of Dinwiddie C. H., near Dr. Smith's, the enemy holding the cross-roads at that point. Should the enemy turn on you, your line of retreat will be by J. M. Brooks' and R. Boiseau's, on the Boydton Plank-road. (See one-inch map.) You must be very prompt in this movement, and get the forks of the road at J. M. Brooks' before the enemy, so as to open to R. Boiseau's. The enemy will probably retire toward Five Forks, that being the direction of their main attack this day. Don't encumber yourself with anything that will impede your progress or prevent your moving in any direction. Let me know when Griffin starts and when you start.

This dispatch also showed that mine, concerning the difficulty of crossing Gravelly Run, was still not received. That I did not over-estimate the effect of this dispatch, when it should reach General Meade, is proved by his dispatch written at 11.45 P. M. (See over.) It also showed complete ignorance of the position of the enemy along “the road Bartlett is (was) on,” for the enemy already held this road on the south side of Gravelly Run, and, if not themselves at J. M. Brooks', occupied our approach to it. The condition of affairs here is given by Major Cope, in his report, as follows:

About five P. M. you directed me to lead Bartlett's brigade, by a direct road, if possible, toward the sound of firing in the direction of Dinwiddie C. H., and attack the enemy in the rear. I immediately reported to General Bartlett, who had his column put in motion. The left of the corps rested in open ground. We came out from the left and crossed this ground for half a mile; then we came to a small branch of Gravelly Run on the edge of the timber. Here we found a wood-road that ran in the right direction. We followed it one mile through the wood over rolling ground, crossing the branches of Gravelly Run. At the south edge of this timber, and in open ground on a hill, stands Dr.----'s house (and here our skirmishers became engaged with the enemy's pickets). The ground slopes from here to Gravelly Bun, and is open all the way down. The enemy, after considerable skirmishing, were driven down the slope and across the Run three-quarters of a mile from the house. The house is near a main road leading north from Dinwiddie C. H. to the main road. General Bartlett established a line of pickets along Gravelly Run crossing this road. He also kept videttes out on his right watching this road and other approaches in the rear. It was much after dark when he had made the proper disposition of his troops, and then we

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
29th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: