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[461] cover as much of his front line as possible, putting both Crawford and Griffin in front, with a portion of each in reserve, and keeping Ayres to cover his left flank;1 but at 9.55 P. M., he said to Grant: ‘I sent Warren Sheridan's dispatch, told him to put Ayres on his guard, as he might be attacked at daylight, directed he should move Crawford up at once to his support, if not already there, and move Griffin into supporting distance.’ Warren, however, in direct violation of his orders, stretched out his three divisions in echelon; placing Ayres on the left, then Crawford, and Griffin in the rear.

On the morning of the 31st, as Grant had anticipated, the Fifth corps was heavily attacked from the north and west. The assault had been prepared, but was precipitated by an advance made by Warren to drive the enemy from the White Oak road, or develop with what force the road was held.2 One brigade of Ayres's division, sent forward for this purpose,

1 ‘He [General Meade] is very anxious to have you cover as much of the front line as possible, and his idea was that you would put both Griffin and Crawford in front, keeping a portion of each as a reserve, and keeping Ayres to cover your left flank.’—Webb to Warren, March 30, 9.30 A. M.

2 ‘I have just received a report from General Ayres that the enemy have their pickets still this side of the White Oak road, so that their communication is continuous along it. I have sent out word to him to try and drive them off, or develop with what force the road is held by them.’—Warren to Webb, Meade's Chief of Staff, March 31, 9.40 A. M. ‘Your dispatch giving General Ayres's position is received. General Meade directs that, should you determine by your reconnaissance that you can get possession of the White Oak road, you are to do so, notwithstanding the orders to suspend operations.’—Webb to Warren, 10.30 A. M.

‘On the morning of the 31st, General Warren reported favorably to getting possession of the White Oak road, and was directed to do so.’—Grant's Official Report.

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