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Forced the battle.

No fighting of any consequence occurred until the 6th of April, when Sheridan, by rapid marching on a parallel line, got ahead of our division, struck the road on which we were moving, captured a portion of our wagon train, and forced the battle of Sailor's Creek. We had been on the march most of the night, and our men were weary and hungry, having been subsisting for two days or more on parched corn. At the time the battle began we (our brigade) were resting on a hill, awaiting developments, as the enemy were pressing our rear guard. It was here that my brother John and Thompson Furr, of my company, who had gone foraging the night before, rejoined us, bringing with them a bucket of boiled eggs and some fried chicken and corn bread. They found an old darkie some distance from the road, who, in exchange for two good army blankets, gave them a good breakfast and also something for their comrades. It was timely relief, for we had not more than finished our breakfast when we were startled by the sound of pistol shots in our front. Looking up, we saw some ambulances and stragglers rushing down the opposite hill towards us, hotly pursued by Federal cavalry. The hill seemed to be covered with timber, and only a narrow valley lay between. Our men took in the situation at once, and sprang to their feet, eager for a tussle with Sheridan. I speak here of Hunton's Brigade, which was not in the battle of Five Forks. They felt that they were a match for the cavalry, and all along on the retreat they were hoping for a chance to wipe out the reproach of April 1st. The opportunity now presented itself, and without waiting for orders from General Hunton, who was in the rear, the head of the column (8th Virginia) started down the hill at a quickstep to meet the enemy, [85] and the enemy turned back to report. General Hunton soon rode up, and placing himself at the head of his brigade, led them down the hill, across a small stream, and up the opposite hill until we struck the woods. There we filed to the right, and formed in line of battle in the edge of the woods. Just in front of us was a narrow strip of cleared land covered with broom-sedge, and beyond that the woods began again and extended around to our right. Our left rested on the road on which we had been marching. We had scarcely gotten into position, with a line of skirmishers thrown out, before the cavalry appeared in heavy force in the woods opposite, and bore down upon us. They had gotten into the habit of riding over our infantry, and they evidently expected to ride over us. Our skirmishers emptied their muskets at them, and then dropped down into the thick broom sedge to reload, while our main line fired over their heads at the advancing cavalry. The fire was too hot for them, and very few emerged from the woods.


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