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[460] and sent to the right, to Jericho ford, a few miles above the crossing of the Telegraph road, where it succeeded, late in the day, in making a crossing and falling upon Lee's left. Forcing back the Third corps for some distance, the Federals advanced and established a line, to the southwest, across the Virginia Central railroad, about a mile northwest from Anderson's station, and, with its right returned, covering the roads leading to the rear. This bold and well-executed, aggressive movement not only cut Lee's line of communication westward and threatened the turning of his left, but gave great confidence to the Federal arms and an eager anticipation of victory. At 6 p. m., Hill sent Wilcox's division to drive the Federals back, but without success; for they had not only seized, but had at once fairly well fortified the line they had secured. The opposing forces spent the night in throwing up lines of defensive works. Early the next morning, Lee rode to his left and sharply rebuked his lieutenant for having allowed Warren to cross the South Anna and secure a position that cut his line of communication with the great storehouse of the Valley, saying to him: ‘Why did you not do as Jackson would have done—thrown your whole force upon these people and driven them back?’

His left having been forced back, Lee shortened his line by retiring his center, until it was nearly in the form of a right-angled triangle, with the right angle opposite Quarles' mill, or the Ox ford. The left, under Hill, was extended northeast and southwest, from the North Anna, across the Virginia Central railroad to Little river, facing the Fifth and Sixth Federal corps. The First and Second corps were extended southeast to near Hanover Junction, and thence eastward and southward in a salient.

Lee's new disposition of his army cut Grant's army into two parts. Finding himself in this predicament, after several unsuccessful attempts to break Lee's lines, Grant dispatched to Halleck, from Quarles' mills, on May 26th:

To make a direct attack from either wing would cause a slaughter of our men that even success would not justify. To turn the enemy by his right, between the two Annas, is impossible, on account of the swamp upon which his right rests. To turn him by his left, leaves Little river, New Found river and South Anna river, all of them streams presenting considerable obstacles to the movement of an army, to be crossed. I have determined, therefore, to turn the enemy's right, by crossing at or near Hanovertown, thus crossing all these streams at once, and leave us still where we can draw supplies.

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