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[507] the White Oak road, by which Lee must move, but the furious bombardment begun before midnight was kept up till morning.

But Lee made no attempt whatever to escape, nor indeed to prepare for the assault which he must have seen was inevitable. On the contrary, he ordered Pickett to return towards Petersburg,1 and left Longstreet with ten thousand men north of the James,2 at the very moment when Grant was massing his forces to deal his heaviest blow. The bombardment presaged the coming storm, and Lee had received intelligence of the disaster at Five Forks. He still had in front of Grant, between the Appomattox and the Claiborne road, as many as forty thousand effective men,3 and a line of works as strong and as skilfully constructed as ever defended an army. The force before him was not more than sixty thousand in number, including the entire effective strength of Parke, Wright, Ord, and Humphreys, as they stood in line of battle. It would seem as if the gallant soldiers who had so long withstood the national armies might even yet have resisted an advance; or that the ingenuity and skill which had contrived so many manoeuvres might still have devised a plan by which those soldiers should have eluded their foe, and made one more effort to escape destruction.

1 Pickett's Report.

2 Lee's last return, February 20th, puts Longstreet's effective strength at 7,403, exclusive of Pickett. In emergencies the rebels habitually put their extra-duty men into battle, and these in Longstreet's command were 2,100 in number on the 20th of February. Besides these, the local reserves in Richmond were sent to Longstreet on the 2nd of April. See Rebel War Clerk's Diary, Vol. II, p. 465.

3 The numbers were 38,258, besides 4,207 on extra duty.

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