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At 4.30 A. M. I received information that General Ayres had communicated with General Sheridan, and, while I was just mounting to join Generals Griffin and Crawford, to move across the country against the enemy at J. Boiseau's, I received the following from General Sheridan, at 4.50 A. M., which is published with his report, and there stated to be written at three A. M.

“ I am holding in front of Dinwiddie C. H., on the road leading to Five Forks, for three-quarters of a mile, with General Custer's division. The enemy are in his immediate front, lying so as to cover the road just this side of the Adams' House, which leads out across Chamberlain's bed or run. I understand you have a division at J. Boiseau's; if so, you are in rear of the enemy's line and almost on his flank. I will hold on here. Possibly they may attack Custer at day-light; if so, have this division attack instantly and in full force. Attack at daylight any way, and I will make an effort to get the road this side of Adams' House, and if I do, you can capture the whole of them. Any force moving down the road I am holding, or on the White Oak Road, will be in the enemy's rear, and in all probability get any force that may escape you by a flank attack. Do not fear my leaving here. If the enemy remain I shall fight at daylight.”

This suppositious state of affairs given above promised most brilliant results, if true; but it was not. The enemy occupied the position at J. Boiseau's on the preceding night, and instead of my having a division there, the nearest to it I had was Bartlett s brigade, about three-quarters of a mile north of Gravelly Run, the crossing of which the enemy guarded. Even this brigade of mine I had to withdraw, by General Meade's order, at 9.35 P. M. I fully expected, if the enemy had not retreated, to have to fight a battle in order to get across Gravelly Run, near to J. Boiseau's; and, if the enemy had designed to stay, we undoubtedly must have done so. I so anticipated in my instructions to General Griffin.

About five A. M. General Griffin left his position near the enemy on the White Oak Road, and moved directly and rapidly across the country to Crumps. He found the enemy had left the crossing of the Run open, and he moved on to J. Boiseau's, meeting at the forks of the road our cavalry, under General Devin. At this point General Griffin reported to General Sheridan, as I had directed, should such a state of affairs as was found be developed.

I remained with General Crawford's division, which we formed to retire in line of battle to meet the enemy, should he pursue us from his breastworks, as I confidently expected he would as soon as he discovered our movements.1 I also deployed my escort to retire toward the Plank-road, to take back any men or supplies which might be coming to that point through ignorance of the changes that had been made in the night. General Griffin's march having been unobstructed, I did not reach him till he had met our cavalry. I then ascertained, too, that General Ayres' division was massed about half a mile south of us, near J. M. Brooks's.

It will be recollected that General Ayres began to move back from the White Oak Road by an order from me, sent at 9.35 P. M, March 31, which was written on the first intimation I received to send troops to General Sheridan. No orders stopped him, nor did anything delay him but physical obstacles-such as the darkness, bad roads, and broken bridge. I will now quote from his report the result:

The division was ordered to move down the Boydton Pike during the night of March 31, and report to General Sheridan at Dinwiddie C. H. Before arriving there it was met by a staff officer of General Sheridan, with instructions to turn off on a road leading west into a road leading from Dinwiddie C. H. to the White Oak Road

(i e., from R. Boiseau's to J. M. Brooks'), “and come upon the left and rear of the enemy, who was facing General Sheridan's command near Dinwiddie. As we approached, just after daylight, the enemy hastily decamped.”

This actual trial disposes of the question of the ability of my troops to reach General Sheridan by midnight. It took General Ayres till daybreak.

It may be said, in support of the expectations, that the state of the bridge and stream were not known when the expectations were formed; but they should have been. The route was used for communications between General Grant and General Sheridan the two preceding days. But even if not known then, they certainly were when General Sheridan wrote his report and General Grant authorized its publication; and it was but manly and just to have then corrected any unfavorable impression his lack of knowledge at the time may have caused him to take up concerning me.

But, let us suppose the two divisions that General Grant directed to be moved by J. Boiseau's, were expected to reach General Sheridan by midnight. The order which I received was written by General Meade 10.15 P. M., five minutes after General Grant's to General Sheridan. It reached me 10.50 P. M., thirty-five minutes after being written. Supposing all possible dispatch used, twenty minutes at least would be required for me to make the necessary arrangements; twenty more minutes would be required to carry my order to the divisions; twenty more minutes for them to transmit them to the brigades; and forty minutes, at least, for the troops to get ready to move; for it must be remembered that no bugles or drum could be used to sound calls or arouse the men. No General could make plans based on greater rapidity of execution than here allowed, and our experience

1 The neglect of the enemy to follow up General Crawford's division as he withdrew is still inexplicable to me; for had they done so, General Lee would have been early informed of the movement of our infantry against his detached force at Five Forks, and either have reinforced them or warned them to withdraw, and the disaster to them which resulted might have not occurred. It seems to me an oversight not to have been expected from our previous experience.

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Philip H. Sheridan (12)
J. Boiseau (6)
Charles Griffin (5)
Ulysses S. Grant (4)
R. B. Ayres (4)
Allen Crawford (3)
Genaral Meade (2)
Custer (2)
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Fitz Hugh Lee (1)
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