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[229] Wilmington, when Weitzel's expedition should start.

It was at this time reported that Lee's cavalry had been sent to Georgia, to aid in the resistance against Sherman, and on the 30th of November, Grant said to Meade: ‘Try to ascertain how much force Hampton has taken from here with him. He has gone himself, beyond doubt.’ Then with his usual policy, he continued: ‘If the enemy has reduced his cavalry much, we must endeavor to make a raid upon the Danville road. Bragg has taken most of the troops from Wilmington to Georgia, which will aid an expedition I have ordered to cut the Weldon road south of the Roanoke.’ At the same time, as Hampton had been sent to Georgia, and Lee's infantry would be occupied in watching Meade's movement southward, Grant reverted to his constant idea of destroying the connection between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley. On the 4th of December, he telegraphed to Sheridan: ‘Do you think it possible now to send cavalry through to the Virginia Central road? It is highly desirable this should be done, if it is possible.’ On the 5th, he gave Meade instructions to move down the Weldon road as far south as Hicksford; and on the 6th, he said to Butler: ‘A movement will be commenced on the left to-morrow morning. Make immediate preparations so that your forces can be used north of the river, if the enemy withdraw; or south, if they should be required. . During to-morrow night, withdraw to the left of your line at Bermuda Hundred the troops you propose to send south [under Weitzel], unless otherwise directed.’

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