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‘ [404] to enable it to leave in a body? . . . If the army can be maintained in an efficient condition, I do not regard the abandonment of our present position as necessarily fatal to our success. . . . Everything, in my opinion, has depended and still depends upon the disposition and feeling of the people. Their representatives can best decide how they will bear the difficulties and suffering of their condition, and how they will respond to the demand which the public safety requires.’

On the day on which this letter was read, Grant had advices from Sheridan, and telegraphed to Stanton: ‘Last Tuesday Sheridan met Early between Staunton and Charlottesville, and defeated him, capturing nearly his entire command. . . . I think there is no doubt Sheridan will at least succeed in destroying the James river canal.’ On the 12th, he received further intelligence. Sheridan had been extremely successful, but had turned east instead of south, and was now moving to join the army before Richmond, by the familiar route along the Pamunkey river to White House; and Grant reported to Stanton: ‘The scouts who brought General Sheridan's dispatch represent having found forage and provisions in great abundance. He also found plenty of horses to remount his men when their horses failed. They say the command is better mounted now than when they left. I shall start supplies and forage for Sheridan to-night. I have also ordered the command that is now on the Potomac to run up to White House and remain there to meet Sheridan.’1

1 Grant had sent a small force along the west bank of the Potomac to break up a contraband trade existing there. It was these troops that were now ordered to White House to meet Sheridan.

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