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[495] army. Merritt went into camp west and south of the Forks, and Mackenzie remained on the Ford road at the crossing of Hatcher's run.1

Thus, the daring but desperate manoeuvre of Lee had failed, and, in fact, recoiled on himself. The troops that he had dispatched to crush Sheridan were necessarily separated, as we have seen, from the main rebel line, and although at first they threatened the national cavalry, the prompt action of Grant in forwarding reinforcements gave Sheridan the chance to fall upon this detached force. Sheridan caught eagerly at the opportunity, and, though disappointed and detained at first by Warren's obstructiveness and delays, when he finally found his troops in hand, he planned and fought a battle which, for intelligence in conception and brilliancy of execution and completeness of result, both immediate and far-reaching, has few rivals in any war. The troops, cavalry and infantry, fought as if inspired. They seemed to divine the object of their commander as soldiers seldom can, and to be filled with his energy, and only rivals to each other in gallantry. The generals were as heroic as the men, and the men as intelligent as their officers. The

1 No complete return was made of the absolute numbers or losses of the cavalry at the battle of Five Forks. Crook's division, 3,000 strong, was south of Dinwiddie on the 1st of April, and as far from the battle-field as the left of the army of the Potomac. Excluding Crook, the cavalry strength was probably 8,000; at Sheridan's headquarters the loss was estimated at 700. General Warren reported his numbers at 12,000, and the losses in the Fifth corps were 634. The former adjutant-general of the army of Northern Virginia estimates the rebel losses at 7,000. See ‘Four Years with General Lee.’ See also Appendix for ‘Official Statement of the Effective Force of the Cavalry under Command of Major-General Sheridan, in the Operations of Dinwiddie Court-House, Va., March 31, 1865, and Five Forks, Va., April, 1865,’ with remarks.

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