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[725] with directions to burn all forage and drive off all stock, &c., as they moved to the rear, fully coinciding in the views and instructions of the Lieutenant-General that the valley should be made a barren waste. The most positive orders were given, however, not to burn dwellings.

In this movement the enemy's cavalry followed at a respectful distance until in the vicinity of Woodstock, when they attacked Custer's division and harassed it as far as Louis brook, a short distance south of Fisher's Hill.

On the night of the eighth, I ordered General Torbert to engage the enemy's cavalry at daylight, and notified him that I would halt the army until he had defeated it.

In compliance with these instructions, Torbert advanced at daylight on the ninth of October, with Custer's division on the back road, and Merritt's division on the Valley pike.

At Louis brook the heads of the opposing columns came in contact and deployed, and after a short but decisive engagement the enemy was defeated, with the loss of all his artillery excepting one piece, and everything else which was carried on wheels. The rout was complete, and was followed up to Mount Jackson, a distance of some twenty-six miles.

On October tenth the enemy crossed to the north side of Cedar creek, the Sixth corps continuing its march to Front Royal; this was the first day's march of this corps to rejoin Lieutenant-General Grant at Petersburg. It was the intention that it should proceed through Manassas gap to Piedmont east of the Blue Ridge — to which point the Manassas Gap railroad had been completed, and from thence to Alexandria by rail; but on my recommendation that it would be much better to march it, as it was in fine condition, through Ashby's gap, and thence to Washington, the former route was abandoned, and on the twelfth the corps moved to the Ashby gap crossing of the Shenandoah river; but, on the same day, in consequence of the advance of the enemy to Fisher's Hill, it was recalled to await the development of the enemy's new intentions.

The question now again arose in reference to the advance on Gordonsville, as suggested in the following despatch:


Washington, October 12, 1864, 12 M.
Major-General Sheridan:
Lieutenant-General Grant wishes a position taken far enough south to serve as a base for further operations upon Gordonsville and Charlottesville. It must be strongly fortified and provisioned.

Some point in the vicinity of Manassas gap would seem best suited for all purposes.

Colonel Alexander, of the engineers, will be sent to consult with you as soon as you connect with General Augur.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

This plan I would not endorse, but, in order to settle it definitely, I was called to Washington by the following telegram:

Washington, October 13, 1864.
Major-General Sheridan: through General Augur.
If you can come here, a consultation on several points is extremely desirable. I propose to visit General Grant, and would like to see you first.

E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

On the evening of the fifteenth I determined to go, believing that the enemy at Fisher's Hill could not accomplish much; and as I had concluded not to attack him at present, I ordered the whole of the cavalry force under General Torbert to accompany me to Front Royal, from whence I intended to push it through Chester gap to the Virginia Central railroad at Charlottesville, while I passed through Manassas gap to Piedmont, thence by rail to Washington. Upon my arrival with the cavalry at Front Royal, on the night of the sixteenth, I received the following despatch from General Wright, who was left at Cedar Creek in command of the army:

headquarters,Middle military division, October 16, 1864.
Major-General P. H. Sheridan, commanding Middle Military Division.
General — I enclose you despatch which explains itself (see copy following):

If the enemy should be strongly reinforced in cavalry, he might, by turning our right, give us a great deal of trouble. I shall hold on here until the enemy's movements are developed, and shall only fear an attack on my right, which I shall make every preparation for guarding against and resisting.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. G. Wright, Major-General Commanding.

Be ready to move as soon as my forces join you, and we will crush Sheridan.

Longstreet, Lieutenant-General.

This message was taken off the rebel signal flag, on Three Top mountain. My first thought was that it was a ruse, but, on reflection, deemed it best to abandon the cavalry raid, and give to General Wright the entire strength of the army. 1 therefore ordered the cavalry to return and report to him, and addressed the following note on the subject:

Front Royal, October 16, 1864.
Major-General H. G. Wright, commanding Sixth Army Corps:
General — The cavalry is all ordered back to you; make your position strong. If Longstreet's

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