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[458] The picket line captured from Lee, after the attack on Fort Steadman, on the 25th, especially favored this design, for it threw the belligerents, at some points, so close to each other that it was but a moment's run between the lines. Preparations were accordingly made for an assault.

To Sheridan he said at the same time: ‘If your situation is such as to justify the belief that you can turn the enemy's right with the assistance of a corps of infantry entirely detached from the balance of the army, I will so detach the Fifth corps, and place the whole under your command for the operation. Let me know, as early in the morning as you can, your judgment in the matter, and I will make the necessary orders. Orders have been given Ord, Wright, and Parke to be ready to assault at daylight tomor-row morning. They will not make the assault, however, without further directions. . . . If the assault is not ordered in the morning, then it can be directed at such time as to come in co-operation with you on the left.’ Thus Grant with his usual policy was preparing, not only to take advantage of the most favorable opportunity, but to make the opportunity that he desired; to move the cavalry and an entire corps of infantry against the enemy's right, on the Southside road, and when Lee should withdraw troops from Petersburg in order to reinforce the exposed flank, to penetrate the weakened lines in front of Parke, or Wright, or Ord.

The rebel general, however, was alive to the emergency. He, of course, perceived the extension of Grant's left, and understood its significance, as well as the object of the cavalry reconnoissance on the White Oak road. Five Forks was a position

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