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[572] Wright had previously been instructed to continue the direct pursuit as long as it promised success; but at 4.20 P. M., he was ordered: ‘Unless you are in the immediate presence of the enemy, you will, on receipt of this, move by the nearest road to Farmville.’1 At the same time Grant said to Ord: ‘Send Gibbon with his two divisions to Farmville to hold that crossing. The Sixth corps is also ordered . . . . Indications are that the enemy are almost in a rout. They are burning wagons, caissons, etc.’

Having issued these instructions, the generalin-chief set out for Burksville, to direct in person the advance of Ord. He left the three columns of the army of the Potomac all in motion: Griffin nearest the Appomattox, and almost on the right of the enemy; Humphreys moving south on the Deatonsville road, in the rebel rear; and the Sixth corps advancing to the support of Sheridan, against the left of Lee.

The condition of the rebel command was now one of appalling and unmitigated misery. The men were exhausted by incessant labors, by sleepless nights, by protracted marches, by defeat, by famine, and despair. Many were wounded, all were hopeless. They were burying their own artillery, and burning their own wagons, and time and again the horses and men lay on the ground together, ceasing to struggle, till they were roused by the shells of the enemy or their own exploding trains. But, surrounded by an indefatigable and adventurous foe, they escaped from one precarious position only to fall into another still more forlorn.

1 This dispatch found Wright absolutely engaged, so that the movement it directed was not made.

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