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[74] for Grant could leave as strong a force as Lee had, in Grant's works, which were stronger than Lee's, and thus hold or contain Lee within his own lines, and be free to use twice Lee's numbers in the unfortified country upon his flank. To meet such a disposition of Grant's troops, which was sure to be made, Lee's only resource was to strip his already threadbare lines, leaving them to be held by thin skirmish line, and form a column with the remainder of his troops with which to strike at the enemy's flanking columns. Grant, indeed, had already issued preparatory orders for a general movement upon Lee's right the day before the attack upon Fort Steadman.

At this time General Hill held the right of Lee's line from Hatcher's Run to Battery Gregg. The Second corps, Gordon's troops, held from Battery Gregg to the Appomattox river, while Longstreet occupied the trenches north of the Appomattox to the extreme left on White Oak swamp. From right to left the Confederate line of works was about thirty-seven miles in length.1

On the 28th March Sheridan was ordered to move next day with his 13,000 cavalry towards Dinwiddie Court House, attack the rear and right of Lee, if practicable, while the Second and Fifth corps, 35,000 strong together, guarded the interval between Sheridan and left of Grant's line. After this, Sheridan was instructed to cut loose and push for the Danville road, and act as circumstances might require. The Second and Fifth corps, Humphreys' and Warren's, were at the same time instructed to press close up to the Confederate lines, so as to keep the defending force with them and also to reach around and attack its flank if possible. General Ord, commanding the Army of the James, taking half of his army from the north side of the river, in all about 19,000 men, made a secret march on the night of the 27th and took position in the rear of the Second corps, relieving it from its position in the trenches. The Sixth corps, under General Wright, numbering over 19,000 men, and the Ninth corps, under General Parke, of about the same strength, remained

1 Humphreys says, page 310: ‘In the spring of 1865, when these works were completed, the Confederate entrenchments were thirty-seven miles in length from the White Oak swamp on their left to the Claiborne road crossing of Hatcher's Run on their right. This length is not measured along the irregularities of the general line of intrenchments, much less those of the parapet lines.’

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