White Oak road, opposite the left flank of the enemy, and about a mile from the Forks
was ordered to place two divisions in the front line, and leave the third in reserve, in rear of the right.
The object of this formation was to enable him to strike the enemy with his left division, and then to make a left wheel, and envelop the entire rebel flank with the remainder of his corps.
Having issued these instructions, Sheridan
next directed Merritt
to demonstrate as though he was attempting to turn the rebel right, and notified him that the Fifth corps would strike the enemy's left.
The cavalry was ordered to assault the rebel works as soon as the Fifth corps became engaged, and this would be known by the report of volleys of musketry.
He then rode over to the Fifth corps, not yet in position, and coming up slowly.
He was exceedingly anxious to attack at once, for the sun was getting low, and he had to fight or go back.
‘It was no place to entrench; and it would have been shameful,’ he said, ‘to have gone back with no results to compensate for the loss of the brave men who had fallen that day.’1
was acting with his usual deliberation.
It took him three hours to bring up his troops a distance of less than two miles.2
's eager eye he did not seem to exert himself as earnestly as he ought.
The ammunition of the cavalry would soon be exhausted;