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[471] from the complications in which they were involved by the difficult nature of the country and the superior strength of the enemy; he had occupied the attention of a formidable force, which might have caused prodigious annoyance if turned against Warren's disorganized flank; and had retained his hold of the strategic position which threatened the communications of Lee and the objective point indicated by Grant. The promptness and audacity with which, when his line was broken, he conceived and executed a new design, and compelled the pursuing rebels to turn and look to their own defence—not only to reverse their ranks, but to change the direction of their march and the whole character of the battle—constituted one of the most brilliant strokes of military genius displayed during the war; while the determination with which he held out against odds and dangers on every side was worthy of the most famous commanders. Nevertheless, Sheridan had been driven back from the White Oak road a distance of five miles, and he dispatched at once to the general-in-chief that the force in his front was too strong for him.

Lee had certainly shown more than his wonted audacity at this crisis; but it was the desperate daring of the gambler who risks all on his last throw. When he discovered that Grant was again moving to the left, he quickly, in spite of mud and rains and heavy roads, transferred nearly one-third1 of his army to the threatened point, and throwing a heavy force

1 The forces of Pickett, Anderson, Heth, Wilcox, W. H. F. and Fitz Hugh Lee, and Rosser were all in front of Warren or Sheridan on the 30th of March. These amounted to 27,500 men. See Lee's return of February 20th. But Pickett's Report, published in ‘Pickett's Men,’ puts them at 8,000!

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