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[560] to Sheridan's mortification, he decided not to attack until the arrival of the Sixth corps.

The country around Jetersville is open, and Griffin's line extended along a ridge which effectually commanded the wide valley that it overlooked. The ground occupied by the Second corps was not so favorable for defence, and in fact invited attack, for the land sloped upward in front of Humphreys, and the rebels could command the position of the corps. Meade feared that if he drew on battle now, Lee would fall on this exposed position of Humphreys, and he therefore decided to await the arrival of the Sixth corps, which would cover the right and prevent any movement of the enemy in that direction. But Sheridan wanted to tempt Lee to attack Humphreys, and when the rebels were all engaged, he meant to repeat his favorite manoeuvre and dash in upon them on the other flank with Griffin and Merritt's troops, now hidden behind the ridge. He moreover believed that if an attack were not made at once, Lee would escape in the night by the rebel right flank, and necessitate further pursuit. Meade, however, was the senior, and his opinion prevailed. Attack was delayed, and Merritt was transferred to the right of the army.

At this juncture Sheridan sent another dispatch to Grant, urging his immediate presence, and enclosing a captured letter which had just been brought to his Headquarters by a negro. The letter was from a rebel officer to his mother, and in these words: ‘Amelia court-house, April 5th. Dear Mamma,--Our army is ruined, I fear. We are all safe as yet. Byron left us sick. John Taylor is well; saw him yesterday. We are in line of battle this morning. ’

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