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[405] To Sheridan himself he sent a message of encouragement: ‘Your scouts from Columbia, giving the gratifying intelligence of your success up to that time, have just arrived. . . . I congratulate you and the command upon the skill and endurance displayed. . . . I send, without delay, one hundred thousand rations and ten days forage for ten thousand horses. Remain with your command on the Pamunkey until further orders. I shall not, probably, keep you there many days.’

Both Sheridan's movement and that of Stoneman were designed to detain Lee in Richmond, and away from Sherman; and Sheridan undoubtedly prevented the evacuation of the rebel capital, rendering it impossible for Lee to move to Lynchburg at the time proposed. For Grant's object now, as we have seen, was not to obtain possession of the place he had been besieging for a year, but to hem his antagonist in, and postpone as long as possible the national occupation of Richmond. As early as the 3rd of March, he had said to Meade: ‘For the present, it is better for us to hold the enemy where he is than to force him south. . . . Sheridan is now on his way to Lynchburg, and Sherman to join Schofield. After the junction of the two latter is formed, they will push for Raleigh, North Carolina, and build up the railroad to their rear. To drive the enemy from Richmond now would endanger the success of these two columns. . . . It is well to have it understood when and where to attack suddenly, if it should be found at any future time that the enemy are detaching heavily. My notion is that Petersburg will be evacuated simultaneously with any such detaching as would justify an attack.’

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