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[487] the fighting was severe. The rebels availed themselves of every favorable piece of ground to hold the national column in check, and when Merritt's line was formed and ready to attack, they generally moved off again, their infantry gliding through the woods with ease, while the national troopers labored hard in pursuit, through the thick undergrowth and miry soil. By noon, however, the last of the enemy had retired behind their works along the White Oak road, and Merritt had pressed so close that the rebel skirmishers were called in. They evidently evaded a general battle outside.

In the meantime, Crawford had at last come up with Griffin, and at eleven A. M., Warren reported in person to Sheridan. Mackenzie also had arrived, with the cavalry of Ord's command, and was directed to remain in front of Dinwiddie, and rest his men, until further orders.

Early on this morning Lee directed Pickett to hold Five Forks,1 and the rebels had accordingly fortified a line running along the White Oak road for at least two miles, with its left refused at a point about half a mile east of the Forks. They thus covered not only the Forks themselves, but the Ford road, which runs north to the Southside railway, and was the route by which Pickett communicated with Lee. As soon as it was evident that the enemy had retired behind these works, Sheridan ordered Warren to advance on the Five Forks road, in the rear of the cavalry. Then turning to the right, the Fifth corps was to take position obliquely to and a short distance from the

1Pickett's Men,’ page 145.

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