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[43]

Nearer still at the river's brink This view brings us to the very edge of the water, where Sheridan's troopers were getting their mounts into shape for the arduous duties of the summer and fall. They are sitting at ease on the barebacked horses which have walked out into the cool river to slake their thirst. The wagon with the four-mule team bears the insignia of the Sixth Army Corps, commanded by Sedgwick. The canvas top is somewhat wrinkled, so it is impossible to see the entire device, which was in the shape of a Greek cross. It was during the campaign which followed these preparations that Sheridan had his famous interview with Meade, in which the former told his senior that he could whip Stuart if allowed to do so. General Grant determined to give Sheridan the opportunity that he sought, and on the very day of the interview Meade directed that the cavalry be immediately concentrated and that Sheridan proceed against the Confederate cavalry. On May 9th the expedition started with a column thirteen miles long. Stuart, however, was nothing loth to try conclusions with the Federal cavalry once more. He finally overtook it on May 11th at Yellow Tavern. The Confederate horse, depleted in numbers and equipment alike, was no longer its former brilliant self, and in this engagement the Confederacy lost James B. Gordon and Stuart, the leader without a peer.

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