move at once with whatever was at hand, if he directed, and let the rest follow; but he did not. His impatience was no greater, apparently, than I felt myself, and which I strove to repress and prevent any exhibition of, as it would but tend to impair confidence in the proposed operations. When everything possible is being done, it is important to have the men think it is all that success requires, if their confidence is to be retained. Against General Sheridan's most ungenerous statement, that I gave him the impression that I wanted the sun to go down, I simply place my denial, and trust that my whole conduct in life, and especially in this war, sustains me in it. The sun did not set until two hours and a half after the formation was completed. In proof of the efforts I made to get the troops in position, and the rapidity with which they did move, I present the following communications from Brevet Brigadier-General Bankhead, of my staff; Brevet Major-General Crawford, commanding Third division; Brevet Major-General Griffin, commanding First division; Brevet Major-General Ayres, Second division. General Bankhead writes me, under date of June twenty-seventh:
The following is from General Crawford, dated July seventeenth:Sir: In reply to your letter of the seventeenth inst., received the twenty-fifth, I have the honor to state that I was with you April first, at the time you received some instructions from General Sheridan, through one of his staff officers. As to the nature of the orders I am not aware, further than that you immediately turned to me, and directed me to bring up the corps at once along the road we were at the time, and that you would meet the column yourself; that the divisions would march in the following order, viz., Third, First, Second. I immediately galloped back, and gave the orders, in person, to Generals Griffin and Crawford. As I was directed to see the head of the column was started on the right road, I sent the order to General Ayres, commanding Second division (who was further off to the right), by one of your Aids, either Major Cope or Captain Wadsworth. The orders were obeyed promptly, and the troops moved out as expeditiously as the nature of the road and the crowded state it was in (being blocked up with led cavalry horses) would admit. Every exertion appeared to be made by General Crawford, who had the advance, to keep the road clear for the infantry to pass. I remained with the head of the column until within a short distance of the place it was halted and placed in position to make the attack. (Signed)H. C. Bankhead, Brevet Colonel Assistant Inspector-General.
The following is from General Griffin, dated June twenty-sixth:General: In reply to your communication of June seventeenth, asking if my division did not move, with all practicable dispatch, in forming prior to our attack on the enemy at the battle of Five Forks, I have the honor to state, that the troops under my command moved at once, upon the receipt of the order, and that, in my opinion, no unnecessary time was lost from that time till they were formed as you directed. (Signed)S. W. Crawford, Brevet Major-General.
The following is from General Ayres, dated June twenty-fourth:General: In reply to your communication of the seventeenth instant, in reference to the movement of the First division just prior to the battle of Five Forks, April first, 1865, I have to state I was in command of that division on that day, and about two o'clock P. M., received, through Colonel Bankhead, Corps Inspector, an order to move down the road leading northward with all possible dispatch, as the cavalry and infantry were to attack the enemy at once. I moved my troops as promptly as I could, and on arriving near the place where the corps was formed for the attack, was met by yourself. You immediately pointed out the ground that my troops were to form on, remarking, in substance, that you wished me to be as expeditious as possible. The order was executed at once, and I then reported in person to you. In my opinion, the division was formed without any halting or unnecessary delay. (Signed)Charles Griffin, Brevet Major-General.
My record on this point could not be better or more complete. In view of this testimony, it is further apparent that General Sheridan had left out of his calculations the necessary time to make the formation he directed, and that, in his own opinion, his plan was endangered thereby. The propriety of an army all moving at once pre-supposes, in order that the General who soI have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the seventeenth inst., last evening, asking an official statement concerning the movement of the Fifth corps on the first of April, from the position where it was massed to that where the lines of battle were formed previous to that attack. I do not know at what time the order was given to commence the movement. I was ordered to follow the First division. This was done, and my division was kept well closed up on the troops in front. On arriving near the position where the lines were forming, you requested me to form my troops as expeditiously as possible, as General Sheridan desired to attack the enemy immediately. Once again, during the formation, you desired me to be expeditious. My division, being a very small one, was soon formed, whereupon I reported to you that I was ready. The order was then given, and the troops moved at once to the attack. (Signed)R. B. Ayres, Brevet Major-General.