and manufacturing establishments, tearing up and demolishing all the locks on the James river canal from Scottsville to Newmarket. I had directed him to try and obtain possession of the bridge across the James river at Duiguidsville, intending to hold it and strike the South-side railroad at Appomattox depot, and follow up its destruction to Farmville, where the High bridge crosses the Appomattox. A bold dash was made to secure this bridge, but without avail, as the enemy had covered it with inflammable materials and set it on fire the instant their scouts signalled the approach of our forces; they also and by the same means burned the bridge across the James river at Hard wicksville, leaving me master of all the country north of the James river. My eight pontoons would not reach half way across the river, and my scouts from Lynchburg reported the enemy concentrating at that point from the west, together with a portion of General Pickett's division from Richmond and Fitz Lee's cavalry. It was here that I fully determined to join the armies of the Lieutenant-General in front of Petersburg, instead of going back to Winchester, and also make a more complete destruction of the James river canal and the Virginia Central and Fredericksburg railroads, connecting Richmond with Lynchburg and Gordonsville. I now had all the advantage, and by hurrying quickly down the canal and destroying it as near Richmond as Goochland or beyond, and then moving up to the railroad and destroying it as close up to the city as possible in the same manner I did toward Lynchburg, I felt convinced I was striking a hard blow by destroying the means of supply to the rebel capital, and, to a certain extent, the Army of Northern Virginia, besides leaving the troops now concentrating at Lynchburg without anything to oppose them, and forcing them to return to Richmond. This conception was at once decided upon and Colonel Fitzhugh's brigade was ordered to proceed to Goochland and beyond, immediately, destroying every lock upon the canal and cutting the banks wherever practicable. The next morning the entire command moved from Newmarket down the canal leisurely, and completely destroying the locks and banks about the aqueducts, and in some places cutting the banks; the rain and mud still impeded us, and the command, particularly the transportation, was much worn and fatigued; however, by replacing our worn-out mules with those captured from General Early's trains, and with the assistance of nearly two thousand negroes who attached themselves to the command, we managed to get along in very good shape, reaching Columbia on the evening of the tenth instant, at which place we were rejoined by Colonel Fitzhugh's brigade. Colonel Fitzhugh had destroyed the canal about eight miles east of Goochland, thereby reducing it to a very small length. At Columbia we took one day's rest, and I here sent a communication to the Lieutenant-General commanding the armies, notifying him of our success, position, and condition, and requesting supplies to be sent to White House. My anxiety now was to be able to cross the Pamunkey. I felt confident that the enemy would march out a heavy force and try to destroy my command and prevent me from crossing the river. The railroad from Richmond to Gordonsville was still intact, and to go south of the Pamunkey river, and between it and Richmond, I regarded as too hazardous, and I was fearful that the enemy might use it to get on my flank and rear. General Custer was therefore directed to strike the railroad at Frederick's Hall and General Merritt at Louisa Court-house. General Custer was ordered to thoroughly destroy the track toward Richmond as far as Beaver Dam, while General Merritt did the same thing from Louisa. Court-house to Frederick's Hall. While at this latter place Major Young's scouts from Richmond notified me of preparations being made to prevent me from getting to the James river, and that Pickett's division of infantry was coming back from Lynchburg via the Southside railroad, as was also the cavalry, but that no advance from Richmond had yet taken place. I at once determined that there was no way to stop me unless General Longstreet marched directly for the White House, and that he would be unable to do so if I pushed boldly on toward Richmond, as he would be forced to come out and meet me near Ashland; then I could with-draw, cross South and North Anna and march to White House on north side of the Pamunkey. It proved true. But, to divert from the narrative; when General Custer struck Frederick's Hall Station he entered it so suddenly that he captured the telegraph office with all the despatches. Among them was one from Lieutenant-General Early to General Lee, stating that he had been informed that Sheridan's forces were approaching Goochland, and that be intended to move up with two hundred cavalry which he had, and attack them in the flank at daylight. General Custer immediately ordered a regiment of cavalry in pursuit of this bold party, which in about two hours it overtook, attacked, and captured or dispersed in every direction, Lieutenant-General Early escaping on a side road with five or six orderlies and two staff officers; he was, however, closely followed by a small detachment, and his staff officers captured, he barely escaping over the South Anna with a single orderly, and the next day he made his way to Richmond, after a campaign in the Shenandoah valley in which he lost nearly the whole of his army, together with his battle-flags, and nearly every piece of artillery which his troops opened upon us, and also a large part of his transportation. But to resume: General Custer in the morning of the fourteenth instant was directed to push down the Negro-foot road and cross the South Anna. He sent his scouting parties up to within eleven miles of Richmond, where they burned a hospital train. The object of this move was to divert the attention of the enemy from the North and South Anna
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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