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‘ [89] be of vast importance to us.’ This despatch he directed should be sent to Sheridan; but Halleck added to the order and otherwise modified it in transmission. ‘Lieutenant-General Grant wishes a position taken far enough south to serve as a base for further operations upon Gordonsville and Charlottesville. It must be strongly fortified and provisioned. Some point in the vicinity of Manassas Gap would seem best suited for all purposes. Colonel Alexander, of the engineers, will be sent to consult with you.’ Grant had said nothing about fortifying, or provisioning, or about Manassas Gap, or consulting with engineers. He left all these details entirely to Sheridan, in whose independent judgment Halleck even yet appeared to have but little confidence.

Sheridan still objected to the plan as it was proposed to him; and on the 14th, Grant telegraphed: ‘What I want is for you to threaten the Virginia Central railroad and canal in the manner your judgment tells you is best, holding yourself ready to advance, if the enemy draw off their forces. If you make the enemy hold a force equal to your own for the protection of those thoroughfares, it will accomplish nearly as much as their destruction. If you cannot do this, then the next best thing to do is to send here all the force you can. I deem a good cavalry force necessary for your offensive, as well as defensive operations. You need not therefore send here more than one division of cavalry.’ On the 13th of October, Sheridan was summoned to Washington by the Secretary of War, who telegraphed direct: ‘If you can come here, a consultation on several points is extremely desirable. ’

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