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[485] were followed fast by Merritt's two divisions, Devin on the right and Custer on the left, while Crook remained at the rear to hold Dinwiddie and the roads connecting with Meade. The national skirmishers soon overtook the rebel rear guard, and firing began at once in the tangled woods on the right and left, while the main column advanced on the Five Forks road. At the junction with the road leading to the Boydton plank, where Gibbes had attacked the rebels in rear the day before, the head of Ayres's division came in sight, about two and a half miles north of Dinwiddie, having arrived at this point at daylight;1 and between seven and eight o'clock a squadron sent out to the right came up with Griffin's command, in front of the J. Boisseau house, on the Crump road. Warren himself was still with Crawford's division, engaged in making a skilful tactical retreat from his old position on the White Oak road, in front of Lee.2

The enemy had thus slipped completely back between the forces of Merritt and Warren, and Sheridan was now obliged to abandon all hope of using the Fifth corps against the rebel rear, and to form entirely different plans. Any immediate cooperation

1 Sheridan had sent a staff officer to bring Ayres by this route direct from the Boydton plank road.

2 ‘1st of April, early in the morning, while still in camp near the White Oak road, it was announced to me by the major-general commanding [Warren] he was about to move, with his entire command, Towards Dinwiddie court-house, to operate in connection with the cavalry, then in the neighborhood of a place called Five Forks. My division was the last to retire. . . .. We marched in retreat in a southwest direction until we approached a road leading south to Boisseau's cross-roads, and followed the other two divisions. The enemy did not follow us from his entrenchments upon the withdrawal of our skirmish line, as was expected.’—Crawford's Report.

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