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[566] that his soldiers afterwards endured must be laid at his door.

What that suffering was eye-witnesses have described. From the moment when the men received the news of the evacuation of Richmond and its partial destruction by fire, they became despondent. So many of them had their homes and families in that city, with what little property remained to them in the world, that they looked upon the loss of the rebel capital as the last hope of success destroyed. Desertions began at once, especially among the Virginia troops, who were nearest their homes and could reach them with little difficulty. But when the army arrived at Amelia and found no supplies, demoralization became disintegration. Many sank by the wayside exhausted, while others wandered from the line of march in search of a piece of bread only, to satisfy the cravings of actual starvation. For forty-eight hours the man or officer who had a handful of parched corn in his pocket was fortunate. The want of ordinary subsistence, the fighting by day and marching by night, became at last to many unendurable, and the bravest deserted and threw away their useless arms. Thousands, however, pressed on in sullen determination, obeying the orders of their commanders, and following blindly but resolutely the will of Lee.

On the morning of April 6th, Sailor's creek was reached, but Sheridan, the inevitable,1 was in front with the cavalry, and three corps of the army of the Potomac were in flank and rear. The head of the retreating force was halted here in line of battle for

1Sheridan, the inevitable, was in front of us.’—Pickett's Men, p.155.

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