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[534] To Parke, Meade said: ‘Leaving one division to guard Petersburg and the railroad, move with the rest of your command up the Cox road.’ At the same time Grant dispatched an officer to Sheridan, announcing the fall of the city, and ordering him to push to the Danville road with all speed, with Humphreys and Griffin, as well as the cavalry.

Before the troops were in motion, the generalin-chief telegraphed to City Point for the President: ‘Petersburg was evacuated last night. Pursuit will be made immediately.’ He had already said to Ord: ‘Efforts will be made to intercept the enemy, who are evidently pushing towards Danville. Push southwest with your command by the Cox road. The army of the Potomac will push up the River road.’

Thus Grant's first orders were—not to follow Lee through Petersburg, but to intercept him, moving his whole command by the south side of the Appomattox towards the Danville railroad, while Lee was hastening on the northern bank to cross, as he had said, at Goode or Bevil's bridge. It was characteristic of the national general that he was not satisfied with pursuit. One division was left in Petersburg, and the army, without even entering the town it had besieged for nearly a year, was hurried westward to get in front of its retreating enemy.

To Weitzel, Grant now telegraphed: ‘I do not doubt but you will march into Richmond unopposed. Take possession of the city. Establish guards, and preserve order until I get there. Permit no man to leave town after you get possession. The army here will endeavor to cut off the retreat of the enemy.’

At nine o'clock, the general-in-chief rode into

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