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[459] on the 9th of May, with orders to engage the enemy's cavalry, and after destroying the Fredericksburg and Central railroads, to threaten Richmond and eventually communicate with and draw supplies from Butler's force on the James River.1

To mask the march the first move was towards Fredericksburg, near which, turning southward to the right, the column thrust itself inside the enemy's lines. The clouds of tell-tale dust, miles in length, soon informed Stuart, however, of its presence, and he dispatched a force in pursuit. But the rear being skilfully covered, the blows directed thereat did not retard Sheridan's progress. Reaching the crossing of the North Anna on the following day, he captured Beaver Dam Station on the Central Railroad, destroying ten miles of the track, two locomotives, three trains of cars, and a million and a half of rations. Here also he recaptured four hundred Union prisoners on their way to captivity in Richmond. At this point he was attacked by the enemy in flank and rear, but his loss was inconsiderable, and this affair did not serve to impede his progress. The South Anna was crossed at Groundsquirrel Bridge; Ashland Station was captured at daylight of the 11th, and the depot, six miles of the road, a train, and a large quantity of stores were destroyed. After this, Sheridan resumed the march towards Richmond.

To meet this advance, Stuart had succeeded by a detour in interposing himself between the assailants and the Confederate capital, and had massed all his available cavalry at Yellen Tavern, a few miles north of Richmond. Here Sheridan immediately attacked him on the 11th, and after an obstinate contest gained possession of the turnpike, driving the Confederate force back towards Ashland and across the North Fork of the Chickahominy. In this passage at arms between the two ablest cavalry leaders of the rival armies, General J. E. B. Stuart, whose dashing exploits fill a brilliant page in the history of the war, was killed.

Pursuing his advantage gained at Yellow Tavern, Sheridan

1 Meade: Report of the Rapidan Campaign.

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