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[435]

During the night of the 4th, Lee sent orders to Ewell to march upon the enemy at daylight of the 5th, desiring ‘to bring him to battle now as soon as possible.’ He ordered Hill forward at the same hour, and himself promptly rode to the front, along the plank road, and was with the pickets when the skirmish opened, at Parker's store, on that road, at the head of the Wilderness run, three miles south of the old Wilderness tavern, where Grant and Meade, accompanied by Assistant Secretary of War Dana, had established their headquarters. Stuart's cavalry were already skirmishing with those of Gregg, on the Brock road, in front of and far to Lee's right, toward Todd's tavern, while Ewell's skirmishers were in lively engagement with those of Warren, advanced to protect his flank on the Germanna road. Now and then a field piece opened from either side.

Lee sent word to Ewell to regulate his advance by that of Hill in the center, and his engineers reconnoitered the front, and the skirmish lines along the whole were soon made continuous. Lee reluctantly held back his two columns, unwilling to bring on general battle until his strong right, under Longstreet, was in position. He impatiently awaited the arrival of Longstreet until 8 in the morning (5th), maintaining, in the meantime, a vigorous skirmish, which held the Federals in check as Meade developed his lines of battle, along the fields bordering Wilderness run and fronting its wooded western watershed, which covered the deployment of Ewell and Hill.

Lee, Stuart and Hill, riding to near the pickets in advance of Parker's store, had halted to look down the open valley of Wilderness run, at the long lines of Federals drawn up in battle array, when Meade's skirmishers suddenly advanced from the pine thickets to the eastward. Hill's line sprang forward to meet these; he then reinforced that with Heth's division, and a general battle appeared to have begun on Lee's right Near the same time, about 11 of the morning, Ewell advanced Johnson's division, with Jones' brigade in skirmish front, pressed back Warren's skirmishers, and came in full view of his column, marching southward across the turnpike but ready to face to line of battle; which they promptly did and so forced an engagement before Lee was ready for it. Jones met the attack with a vigorous fire of musketry and

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