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On the 17th of March, he said to Sheridan: ‘The evening of the 15th, I sent all the cavalry of the army of the James, except necessary pickets, to the Chickahominy, to threaten in that direction, and hold the enemy's cavalry as far as possible. I have ordered them now to move up between the White Oak swamp and the Chickahominy, to attract as much attention as they can, and go as far as they can.’ This, we have seen, was to cover the national cavalry in its passage between the Pamunkey and the James; for Grant was watching and protecting and supplying Sheridan as closely and carefully and constantly as his great compeers, Sherman and Schofield, on a different field.

He gave the cavalry little rest, however. On the 19th, the day on which Sheridan arrived at White House, Grant sent him further orders: ‘Start for this place as soon as you conveniently can; but let me know as early as possible when you will start. I will send cavalry and infantry to the Chickahominy to meet you when you do start. . . . Your problem will be to destroy the Southside and Danville roads, and then either return to this army or go to Sherman, as you deem most practicable.’ On the 21st, he continued: ‘I do not want to hurry you, and besides fully appreciate the necessity of having your horses well shod and well rested before starting again on another long march. But there is now such a possibility, if not probability, of Lee and Johnston attempting to unite, that I feel extremely desirous not only of cutting the lines of communication between them, but of having a large and properly commanded cavalry force ready to act in case such an attempt is made. I think that by Saturday ’

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