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[552] in and around Amelia. If he had promptly attacked and driven back Sheridan's inferior force, he might have pursued his way to Burksville junction, and gained that point before Ord arrived. From there the road was open to Danville and Johnston's army.

But at Amelia, Lee found himself entirely out of rations, and learned that Sheridan was in possession of the only road by which he could now obtain supplies.1 His army had started with one day's rations from Petersburg, and thirty-six hours were past. The men were fatigued and hungry, and depressed by the influence of defeat; and the commander himself, disappointed and pursued, shared their depression. He ordered no attack nor advance, but entrenched himself, and sent out his troops in fragments in every direction to gather up what they could for food. The foraging parties had to go far, for the country was a wide tract of pine barren and straggling woods, and large numbers were taken prisoner by Merritt's cavalry. The grass had not yet begun to sprout, and the sufferings of the animals were keener even than those of the men. On the morning of the 4th of April, Lee sent off half of his artillery, to relieve the famished horses. The foragers brought little or nothing back. Some found a few ears of Indian corn, and the men who were fortunate were allowed two ears, uncooked, apiece; while others plucked the buds and twigs just swelling

1 There is a story that Lee had ordered rations sent to Amelia, and that they went on by mistake to Richmond and were there destroyed. But I can find no authority for the statement. None of the accounts of eye-witnesses mention the arrival of the rations in Richmond. The supplies were probably those intercepted on their way from Burksville by the appearance of the national army.

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