down the Boydton Plank-road during the night, and in the morning moved west via R. Boiseau's house, striking the Five Forks Road about two and a half miles north of Dinwiddie Court House. General Warren, with Griffin's and Crawford's divisions, moved down the road by Crump's house, coming into the Five Forks Road, near J. Boiseau's house, between seven and eight o'clock on the morning of the first of April. Meantime I moved my cavalry force at day-light against the enemy's lines in front, which gave way rapidly, moving off by the right flank and crossing Chamberlain's Creek. This hasty movement was accelerated by the discovery that two divisions of the Fifth army corps were in their rear and that one division was moving toward their left and rear. The following were the instructions sent to General Warren:
cavalry headquarters, Dinwiddie Court House, April 1, 1865, 3 A. M.I am holding in front of Dinwiddie Court House, 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 A. Adams' house, which leads out across Chamber-lain'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 flanks. I will hold on here. Possibly they may attack Custer at daylight; if so, attack instantly and in full force. Attack at daylight any how, 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 remains, I shall fight at daylight.
To Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Army Corps:P. H. Sheridan, Major-General.
As they fell back, the enemy were rapidly followed by General Merritt's two divisions, General Devin on the right and General Custer on the left, General Crook in the rear. During the remainder of the day, General Crook's division held the extreme left and rear, and was not seriously engaged. I then determined that I would drive the enemy, with the cavalry, to the Five Forks, press them inside of their works, and make a feint to turn their right flank; and, meanwhile, quietly move up the Fifth corps, with a view to attacking their left flank, crush the whole force, if possible, and drive westward those who might escape, thus isolating them from their army at Petersburg. Happily, this conception was successfully executed. About this time General McKenzie's division of cavalry, from the Army of the James, reported to me, and consisted of about one thousand effective men. I directed General Warren to hold fast at J. Boiseau's house, refresh his men, and be ready to move to the front when required; and General McKenzie was ordered to rest in front of Dinwiddie Court House until further orders. Meantime, General Merritt's command continued to press the enemy, and, by impetuous charges, drove them from two lines of temporary works; General Custer guiding his advance on the widow Gilliam's house, and General Devin on the main Five Forks Road. The courage displayed by the cavalry officers and men was superb, and about two o'clock the enemy was behind his' works on the White Oak Road, and his skirmish line drawn in. I then ordered up the Fifth corps on the main road, and sent Brevet Major Gillespie, of the Engineers, to turn the head of the column off on the Gravelly Church Road, and put the corps in position on this road, obliquely to and at a point but a short distance from the White Oak Road, and about one mile from the Five Forks. Two divisions of the corps were to form the front line, and one division was to be held in reserve, in columns of regiments, opposite the centre. I then directed General Merritt to demonstrate as though he was attempting to turn the enemy's right flank, and notified that the Fifth corps would strike the enemy's left flank, and ordered that the cavalry should assault the enemy's works as soon as the Fifth corps became engaged, and that would be determined by the volleys of musketry. I then rode over to where the Fifth corps was going into position, and found them coming up very slowly. I was exceedingly anxious to attack at once, for the sun was getting low, and we had to fight or go back. It was no place to intrench, and it would have been shameful to have gone back with no results to compensate for the loss of the brave men who had fallen during the day. In this connection, I will say that General Warren did not exert himself to get up. his corps as rapidly as he might have done; and his manner gave me the impression that he wished the sun to go down before dispositions for the attack could be completed. As soon as the corps was in position, I ordered an advance in the following formation: Ayres' division on the left, in double lines; Crawford's division on right, in double lines; and Griffin's division in reserve, behind Crawford's; and the White Oak Road was reached without opposition. While General Warren was getting into position, I learned that the left of the Second corps of the Army of the Potomac, on my right, had been swung around from the direction of its line of battle until it fronted on the Boydton Road, and parallel to it, which offered an opportunity to the enemy to march down the White Oak Road and attack me in right and rear. General McKenzie was therefore sent up the Camp Road, with directions to gain the White Oak Road, if possible; but to attack at all hazards any enemy