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[3] easterly barrier between Butler and his base; that our right wing should simultaneously with its skirmishers and afterwards in force as soon as the left became fully engaged, advance and occupy the enemy to prevent his reinforcing his right, and thus check him in front, without, however, prematurely seeking to force him far back, before our left could completely out-flank, and our Petersburg column close upon his rear; and finally that the Petersburg column, marching to the sound of heaviest firing, should interpose a southern barrier to his retreat.

Butler thus environed by three lines of fire, could have, with his defeated troops, no resource against capture or destruction, except in an attempt at partial and hazardous escape westward, away from his base, trains or supplies.

Two difficulties, alone, might impede or defeat the success of my plan. One was a possible and effective resistance by the enemy, in virtue of his superior numbers. Another, probably a graver one, existed as to the efficient, rapid handling of a fragmentary army like ours, hastily assembled and organized, half the brigades without general officers, some of the troops unacquainted with their commanders and neighbors, staff-officers unknown to each other, &c. The moral force, which, derived from the unity which springs from old association, was entirely wanting, and from this cause, generally so productive of confusion and entanglement, great inconvenience arose.

On the other hand, I reckoned on the advantages of being all in readiness at day-break, with short distances over which to operate, a long day before me to manoeuvre in; plain, direct routes, and simplicity in the movements to be executed.

Accordingly, at 10.45 A. M. on the 15th of May, preparatory information and orders were forwarded to Major-General Whiting, then at Petersburg, twelve miles from me, to move with his force to Swift creek, three miles nearer, during the night, and at day-break next morning to proceed to Port Walthall Junction, about three miles nearer. These instructions were duly received by that officer and were as follows:

I shall attack enemy in my front, at day-break, by River road, to cut him off from his Bermuda base. You will take up your position, to-night, at Swift creek, with Wise's, Martin's, Dearing's, and two regiments of Colquitt's brigades, with about twenty field pieces, under Colonel Jones. At day-break, you will march to Port Walthall Junction, and when you hear an engagement in your front, you will advance boldly and rapidly, by the shortest road, in the direction



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