their arms. Three guns of the captured battery were found on the road, where they had been stopped in their attempt to escape north-ward. Immediately after the forks were gained I directed General Crawford to change front again to the right, and march toward the sound of the firing, so as again to take the enemy in flank and rear, and this he at once did. I also directed a cavalry brigade, which had been kept mounted, and which now came rapidly along the Ford Road toward me, not to move along it further, but to file to their left and proceed in the direction General Crawford had taken. I then passed down the Ford Road, and on reaching the forks, turned to the right along the White Oak Road. The troops were joyous and filled with enthusiasm at their success, but somewhat disorganized thereby and by their marching and fighting so long in the woods. On my arriving at the point E (see map), I found that our advance there was stayed by the enemy, who had formed a new line for their left flank near the position F, while they yet maintained their front against our cavalry on the south. Though the orders had been not to halt, and many officers were then urging their men forward, the disordered men, not feeling the influence of their commanders, continued to fire without advancing. Accompanied by Captain Benyaurd and the portion of my staff then present, I rode out to the front and called those near me to follow. This was immediately responded to. Everywhere along the front the color-bearers and officers sprang out, and, without more firing, our men advanced, capturing all the enemy remaining. During this last charge my horse was fatally shot within a few paces of the line where the enemy made his last stand, an orderly by my side was killed, and Colonel Richardson, of the Seventh Wisconsin, who sprang between me and the enemy, was severely wounded. I sent General Bankhead, after the last of the enemy had been captured, to General Sheridan to report the result and receive his instructions. He returned with the reply that my instructions had been sent me. At seven P. M. they reached me, and were as follows:
Major-General Warren, commanding the Fifth army corps, is relieved from duty, and will report at once for orders to Lieutenant-General Grant, commanding armies United States.I at once asked of General Sheridan an explanation of this order, but could obtain none. The Fifth corps, in this battle, captured 3,244 men, with their arms, eleven regimental colors, and one four-gun battery with its caissons. It lost, in killed and wounded, 634 men, of which 300 were in General Crawford's division, 205 in General Ayres' division, and 125 in General Griffin's division. Among these were several distinguished officers of high promise. Their names will be duly recorded in the official reports.
Conclusion.I believe there never was a previous period of my military life when the operations I have described would not have gained me the praise of my superior. I have seen nearly all the principal officers of my command, and all unite in telling me that they regard my treatment as unjust. General Griffin assured me he would so express himself at suitable opportunity to General Sheridan. Of the many expressions of sympathy I have received from members of my corps, the following letter, sent me unsolicited, but published here by permission, written by one of its most worthy officers--Colonel T. F. McCoy, of the One Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers--is given as a type:
I had expected to have the pleasure of meeting you before retiring from the service, personally paying my respects, and bidding you a kind farewell; but it was ordered otherwise. A mere glimpse of you, as we passed through Petersburg on our march North, was the last sight the Fifth corps had of their beloved commander. I can most truthfully assure you of your great popularity with the corps, both officers and men; and I can assure you further, that it was a prevailing sentiment that it was a well-merited popularity. I speak freely and frankly. I can realize how gratifying it is to a commanding officer to know that he has the love and respect of his men. On the second of April, when it was known that you had been taken from us, there was mingled surprise, regret, and gloom. I have read and re-read, again and again, General Sheridan's report of the battle of the Five Forks, and in my humble judgment, he utterly fails in justifying his conduct in your removal. Even if what is asserted were true, (which I do not believe,) in view of your past valuable services to the country, and more especially to your corps, and you in command, having, in a great measure, gained by its splendid conduct that afternoon, the most important victory of the campaign; and while thanks and shouts were going up to Heaven for the great achievement, to relieve from his honored command one of the principal heroes was an act most strange and no less astounding. This is merely the substance of what has been in my mind, and which I would have been pleased to have expressed to you personally, could I have met you at any proper period since. I look back upon this battle of the Five Forks with great interest, it being the turning point of the great movements from which flowed so many favorable and glorious results. Then, I have a more personal interest in it from the fact of my regiment conducting itself so well, that I had the honor of receiving the thanks of General Baxter on the field.It is a source of much regret to me that the suddenness of my removal has prevented my taking an appropriate leave of my command,