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[415] to tear up the railroad to within sixteen miles of Lynchburg. All flour mills, woollen factories, and manufacturing establishments were now demolished, and every bridge was burned between Richmond and Lynchburg.

But Sheridan's eight pontoons would not reach half way across the James, and his scouts reported the enemy concentrating at Lynchburg from the west, while Pickett's infantry and Fitz Lee's cavalry were moving upon the same point from Richmond. The bridges over the James were destroyed, and Sheridan must either return to Winchester or attempt to rejoin Grant. Fortunately, he chose the latter course.

But first he determined to effect a more absolute demolition of the railroads and canal. By hurrying quickly down the canal, and destroying it as far as Goochland, and then moving along the railroad towards Richmond, and tearing that up as close to the city as possible, he felt convinced that he could not only strike a heavy blow at the supplies of the rebel capital and army, but render useless the concentration of troops at Lynchburg. This conception was no sooner formed than acted on, and the entire command moved down the canal. The rain and mud again impeded the advance; the troops were now much worn, and the animals fatigued; but Sheridan replaced his mules with those captured from Early's train; and two thousand negroes who attached themselves to the force rendered effectual aid in the work of destruction. On the 10th of March, he reached Columbia, where he rested a day, and sent a communication to Grant, announcing his success, and requesting that supplies

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