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‘ [551] movements of the enemy, push on with all dispatch to Farmville, and try to intercept the enemy there.’

But before receiving this dispatch Sheridan had come up with Lee. At five o'clock the head of the Fifth corps column arrived at Jetersville, after a march of sixteen miles. Here the national advance captured in the telegraph office a message from Lee, ordering two hundred thousand rations immediately from Danville, to feed his army—doubtless the supplies of which Grant had been informed. The dispatch had not yet gone over the wires, but Sheridan gave it to a scout to take to Burksville, and have it telegraphed from there, in the hope that the rations might be forwarded within the national lines. The scout succeeded in sending the message, but other news travelled quite as fast, and the rations went on to Farmville.

The dispatch, however, is evidence that Lee had at this time no expectation of meeting opposition on the Danville road. It has been seen that he expected to be followed, not intercepted, and hoped by interposing strong rear-guards to check any fierce pursuit; and his plans must have been sadly disarranged when he learned that the national forces, foot and horse, were entering Jetersville.

But here, in Sheridan's opinion, the rebel commander had one last chance to save his army. As yet only a small force confronted his advance. Merritt and Mackenzie were miles away on the right, fighting the flank of the rebel command; only Crook's cavalry and the head of the Fifth corps had arrived at Jetersville—together not ten thousand men; while Lee had more than forty thousand soldiers

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Fitz Hugh Lee (4)
Warren Sheridan (3)
Wesley Merritt (1)
Mackenzie (1)
U. S. Grant (1)
George Crook (1)
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