previous next

[352] rest and refit at White House. At this time the greatest source of uneasiness to me was the fear that the enemy would leave his strong lines about Petersburg and Richmond for the purpose of uniting with Johnston, before he was driven from them by battle, or I was prepared to make an effectual pursuit. On the twenty-fourth of March General Sheridan moved from White House, crossed the James river at Jones' landing, and formed a junction with the Army of the Potomac in front of Petersburg on the twenty-seventh. During this move, General Ord sent forces to cover the crossings of the Chickahominy.

On the twenty-fourth of March the following instructions for a general movement of the armies operating against Richmond were issued:

City Point Va., March 24, 1865.
General: On the twenty-ninth instant the armies operating against Richmond will be moved by our left, for the double purpose of turning the enemy out of his present position around Petersburg, and to ensure the success of the cavalry under General Sheridan, which will start at the same time, in its efforts to reach and destroy the Southside and Danville railroads. Two corps of the Army of the Potomac will be moved at first in two columns, taking the two roads crossing Hatcher's run, nearest where the present line held by us strikes that stream, both moving toward Dinwiddie Court-house.

The cavalry under General Sheridan, joined by the division now under Goneral Davies, will move at the same time by the Weldon road and the Jerusalem plank-road, turning west from the latter before crossing the Nottaway, and west with the whole column before reaching Stony creek. General Sheridan will then move independently, under other instructions, which will be given him. All dismounted cavalry belonging to the Army of the Potomac, and the dismounted cavalry from the Middle Military Division not required for guarding property belonging to their arm of the service, will report to Brigadier-General Benham, to be added to the defences of City Point. Major-General Parke will be left in command of all the army left for holding the lines about Petersburg and City Point, subject, of course, to orders from the commander of the Army of the Potomac. The Ninth Army Corps will be left intact to hold the present line of works so long as the whole line now occupied by us is held. If, however, the troops to the left of the Ninth corps are withdrawn, then the left of the corps may be thrown back so as to occupy the position held by the army prior to the capture of the Weldon road. All troops to the left of the Ninth corps will be held in readiness to move at the shortest notice by such route as may be designated when the order is given.

General Ord will detach three divisions, two white and one colored, or so much of them as he can and hold his present lines, and march for the present left of the Army of the Potomac. In the absence of further orders, or until further orders are given, the white divisions will follow the left column of the Army of the Potomac, and the colored division the right column. During the movement Major-General Weitzel will be left in command of all the forces remaining behind from the Army of the James.

The movement of troops from the Army of the James will commence on the night of the twenty-seventh instant. General Ord will leave behind the minimum number of cavalry necessary for picket duty, in the absence of the main army. A cavalry expedition from General Ord's command will also be started from Suffolk, to leave there on Saturday, the first of April, under Colonel Sumner, for the purpose of cutting the railroad about Hicks' ford. This, if accomplished, will have to be a surprise, and therefore from three to five hundred men will be sufficient. They should, however, be supported by all the infantry that can be spared from Norfolk and Portsmouth, as far out as to where the cavalry cross the Blackwater. The crossing should probably be at Uniten. Should Colonel Sumner succeed in reaching the Weldon road, he will be instructed to do all the damage possible to the triangle of roads between Hicks' ford, Weldon, and Gaston. The railroad bridge at Weldon being fitted up for the passage of carriages, it might be practicable to destroy any accumulation of supplies the enemy may have collected south of the Roanoke. All the troops will move with four days rations in haversacks, and eight days in wagons. To avoid as much hauling as possible, and to give the Army of the James the same number of days' supply with the Army of the Potomac, General Ord will direct his commissary and quartermaster to have sufficient supplies delivered at the terminus of the road to fill up in passing. Sixty rounds of ammunition per man will be taken in wagons, and as much grain as the transportation on hand will carry, after taking the specified amount of other supplies. The densely-wooded country in which the army has to operate making the use of much artillery impracticable, the amount taken with the army will be reduced to six or eight guns to each division, at the option of the army commanders.

All necessary preparations for carrying these directions into operation may be commenced at once. The reserves of the Ninth corps should be massed as much as possible. While I would not now order an unconditional attack on the enemy's line by them, they should be ready, and should make the attack if the enemy weakens his line in their front, without waiting for orders. In case they carry the line, then the whole of the Ninth corps could follow up so as to join or cooperate with the balance of the army. To prepare for this the Ninth corps will have rations issued to them, same as the balance of the army. General Weitzel will keep vigilant watch upon his front, and if found at all practicable to break through at any point, he will do so. A success north of the James should be followed



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
E. O. C. Ord (5)
P. H. Sheridan (4)
Weitzel (2)
E. V. Sumner (2)
Jonathan G. Parke (1)
William E. Jones (1)
Joe Johnston (1)
Hatcher (1)
Gaston (1)
Goneral Davies (1)
Benham (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 24th (2)
27th (2)
March 24th, 1865 AD (1)
April 1st (1)
29th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: