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[647] Ford's depot, meeting no opposition, and the Fifth corps marched rapidly toward Sutherland's depot, in flank and rear of the enemy opposing Miles. As he approached that point the force of the enemy fled before the Fifth corps could reach them, retreating along the main road by the Appomattox river, the cavalry and Crawford's division of the Fifth corps engaging them slightly about dusk. On the morning of the third our cavalry took up the pursuit, routing the enemy's cavalry, and capturing many prisoners. The enemy's infantry was encountered at Deep creek, where a severe fight took place. The Fifth corps followed up the cavalry rapidly, picking up many prisoners and five pieces of abandoned artillery, and a number of wagons. The Fifth corps, with Crook's division of cavalry, encamped that night (the fourth) at Deep creek, on the Namozine road, neither of these commands having been engaged during the day. On the morning of the fourth General Crook was ordered to strike the Danville railroad between Jetersville and Burke's station, and then move up toward Jetersville. The Fifth corps moved rapidly to that point, as I had learned from my scouts that the enemy was at Amelia Court-house, and everything indicated that they were collecting at that point. On arriving at Jetersville, about five o'clock P. M., I learned without doubt that Lee and his army were at Amelia Court-house.

The Fifth corps was at once ordered to intrench, with a view to holding Jetersville until the main army could come up. It seems to me that this was the only chance the Army of Northern Virginia had to save itself, which might have been done had General Lee promptly attacked and driven back the comparatively small force opposed to him and pursued his march to Burksville Junction. A despatch from General Lee's chief commissary to the commissary at Danville and Lynchburg, requiring two hundred thousand rations to be sent to meet the Army at Burksville, was here intercepted. So soon as I found that the entire army of the enemy was concentrated at Amelia Court-house, I forwarded promptly all the information I had obtained to General Meade and the Lieutenant-General. On the morning of April five General Crook was directed to send General Davies' brigade to make a reconnoissance to Paine's cross-roads on our left and front, and ascertain if the enemy was making any movement toward that flank to escape. General Davies struck a train of one hundred and eighty wagons, escorted by a considerable force of the enemy's cavalry, which he defeated, capturing five pieces of artillery.He destroyed the wagons and brought in a large number of prisoners. Gregg's and Smith's brigades of the Second division were sent out to support Davies, and some heavy fighting ensued, the enemy having sent a strong force of infantry to attack and cut off Davies' brigade, which attempt was unsuccessful. During the afternoon, and after the arrival of the Second corps at Jetersville, which General Meade requested me to put in position,he being ill, the enemy demonstrated strongly in front of Jetersville against Smith's and Gregg's brigades of Crook's division of cavalry, but no serious attack was made. Early on the morning of April sixth General Crook was ordered to move to the left to Deatonsville, followed by Custer's and Devin's divisions of General Merritt's command. The Fifth corps had been returned to the command of General Meade at his request. I afterward regretted giving up the corps.

When near Deatonsville the enemy's trains were discovered moving in the direction of Burksville or Farmville, escorted by heavy masses of infantry and cavalry, and it soon became evident that the whole of Lee's army was attempting to make its escape. Crook was at once ordered to attack the trains, and, if the enemy was too strong, one of the divisions would pass him while he held fast and pressed the enemy, and attack at a point further on, and this division was ordered to do the same, and so on, alternating, and this system of attack would enable us finally to strike some weak point. This result was obtained just south of Sailor's creek and on the high ground over that stream. Custer took the road, and Crook and Devin coming up to his support, sixteen pieces of artillery were captured and about four hundred wagons destroyed, and many prisoners were taken, and three divisions of the enemy's infantry were cut off from the line of retreat. Meantime Colonel Stagg, commanding the Michigan brigade of the First division, was held at a point about two and a half miles south of Deatonsville, and with this force and a section of Miller's battery, which shelled the trains with excellent effect while Colonel Stagg demonstrated to attack them, thus keeping a large force of the enemy from moving against the rest of the cavalry and holding them until the arrival of the Sixth corps, which was marching to report to me. I felt so strongly the necessity of holding this large force of the enemy that I gave permission to General Merritt to order Colonel Stagg's brigade to make a mounted charge against their lines, which was most gallantly done, the men leaving many of their horses dead almost up to the enemy's works.

On the arrival of the head of the Sixth corps the enemy commenced withdrawing. Major-General Wright was ordered to put Seymour's division into position at once, and advance and carry the road, which was done at a point about two miles or two miles and a half from Deatonsville. As soon as the road was in our possession, Wright was directed to push General Seymour on, the enemy falling back, skirmishing briskly. Their resistance growing stubborn, a halt was called to get up Wheaton's division of the Sixth corps, which went into position on the left of the road, Seymour being on the right. Wheaton was ordered to guide right, with his right connecting with Seymour's left and resting on the road. I still felt the great importance of pushing the enemy, and was unwilling to wait


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