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[354] the enemy as soon as you can. It is not the intention to attack the enemy in his intrenched position, but to force him out, if possible. Should he come out and attack us, or get himself where he can be attacked, move in with your entire force in your own way, and with the full reliance that the army will engage or follow, as circumstances will dictate. I shall be on the field, and will probably be able to communicate with you. Should I not do so, and you find that the enemy keeps within his main intrenched line, you may cut loose and push for the Danville road. If you find it practicable, I would like you to cross the Southside road, between Petersburg and Burkesville, and destroy it to some extent. I would not advise much detention, however, until you reach the Danville road, which I would like you to strike as near to the Appomattox as possible. Make your destruction on that road as complete as possible. You can then pass on to the Southside road, west of Burkesville, and destroy that in like manner.

After having accomplished the destruction of the two railroads, which are now the only avenues of supply to Lee's army, you may return to this army, selecting your road further south. or you may go into North Carolina and join General Sherman. Should you select the letter course, get the information to me as early as possible, so that I may send orders to meet you at Goldsboroa.

On the morning of the twenty-ninth the movement commenced. At night the cavalry was at Dinwiddie Court-house, and the left of our infantry line extended to the Quaker road, near its intersection with the Boydton plank-road. The position of the troops, from left to right, was as follows: Sheridan, Warren, Humphreys, Ord, Wright, Parke.

Everything looked favorable to the defeat of the enemy, and the capture of Petersburg and Richmond, if the proper effort was made. I therefore addressed the following communication to General Sheridan, having previously informed him verbally not to cut loose for the raid contemplated in his orders until he received notice from me to do so:

Gravely Creek, March 29, 1865.
General: Our line is now unbroken from the Appomattox to Dinwiddie. We are all ready, however, to give up all, from the Jerusalem plank-road to Hatcher's run, whenever the forces can be used advantageously. After getting into line south of Hatcher's, we pushed forward to find the enemy's position. General Griffin was attacked near where the Quaker road intersects the Boydton road, but repulsed it easily, capturing about one hundred men. Humphreys reached Dabney's mill, and was pushing on when last heard from.

I now feel like ending the matter, if it is possible to do so, before.going back. I do not want you, therefore, to cut loose and go after the enemy's roads at present. In the morning push around the enemy, if you can; and get on to his right rear. The movements of the enemy's cavalry, may, of course, modify your action. We will act all together as one army here until it is seen what can be done with the enemy. The signal officer at Cobb's Hill reported, at eleven-thirty A. M., that a column had passed that point from Richmond toward Petersburg, taking forty minutes to pass.

From the night of the twenty-ninth to the morning of the thirty-first, the rain fell in such torrents as to make it impossible to move a wheeled vehicle, except as corduroy roads were laid in front of them. During the thirtieth, Sheridan advanced from Dinwiddie Court-house toward Five Forks, where he found the enemy in force. General Warren advanced and extended his line across the Boydtown plank-road to near the White Oak road, with a view of getting across the latter; but, finding the enemy strong in his front and extending beyond his left, was directed to hold on where he was and fortify. General Humphreys drove the enemy from his front into his main line on the Hatcher, near Burgess' Mills. Generals Ord, Wright and Parke made examinations in their fronts to determine the feasibility of an assault on the enemy's lines. The two latter reported favorably. The enemy confronting us, as he did, at every point from Richmond to our extreme left, I conceived his lines must be weakly held, and could be penetrated, if my estimate of his forces was correct. I determined, therefore, to extend my line no further, but to reinforce General Sheridan with a corps of infantry, and thus enable him to cut loose and turn the enemy's right flank, and with the other corps assault the enemy's lines. The result of the offensive effort of the enemy the week before, when he assaulted Fort Steadman, particularly favored this. The enemy's intrenched picket line captured by us at that time threw the lines occupied by the belligerents so close together at some points that it was but a moment's run from one to the other. Preparations were at once made to relieve General Humphreys' corps, to report to General Sheridan, but the condition of the roads prevented immediate movement. On the morning of the thirty-first General Warren reported favorably to getting possession of the White Oak road, and was directed to do so. To accomplish this he moved with one division, instead of his whole corps, which was attacked by the enemy in superior force, and driven back on the second division before it had time to form, and it, in turn, forced back upon the third division, when the enemy was checked. A division of the Second corps was immediately sent to his support, the enemy driven back with heavy loss,

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P. H. Sheridan (7)
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Jonathan G. Parke (2)
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