Today in History:

53 Series I Volume XLVI-I Serial 95 - Appomattox Campaign Part I


On the morning of the 29th the movement commenced. At night the cavalry was at Dinwiddie Court-House and the left of our infantry line extended to the Quaker road, near its intersection with the Boydton plank road. The position of the troops, from left to right, was as follows: Sheridan, Warren, Humphreys, Ord, Wright, Parke. Everything looked favorable to the defeat of the enemy and the capture of Petersburg and Richmond. if the proper effort was made. I therefore addressed the following communication ot General Sheridan, having previously informed him verbally not to cut loose for the raid comtemplaited in his orders until he received notice from me to do so:

GRAVELLY CREEK, March 29, 1862.

Major General P. H. SHERIDAN:

GENERAL: Our line is now unbroken from the Appomattox to Dinwiddie. We are all ready, however, to give up all from the Jerusalem plank road to Hatcher's Run, whenever the forces can be used advantageously. After getting into line was attacked near where the Quaker road intersects the Boydton road, but repulsed it easily, capturing about 100 men. Humphreys reached Dadney's Mills and was pushing on when last heard from. I now feel like ending the matter, if it is possible to do so, before going back. I do not want you, therefore, to cut loose and go after the enemy's roads at present. In the morning push around the enemy, if you can, and get on to his right rear. The movements of the enemy's cavalry may, of course, modify your action. We will act all together as one army here until it is seen what can be done with the enemy. The signal officer at Cobb's Hill reported, at 11.30 a. m., that a cavalry column had passed that point from Richmond toward Petersburg, taking forty minutes to pass.



From the night of the 29th to the morning of the 31st the rain fell in such torrents as to make it impossible to move a wheeled vehicle, except as corduroy roads were laid in front of them. During the 30th Sheridan advanced from Dinwiddie Court-House toward Five Forks, where he found the enemy in force. General Warren advanced and extended his line across the Boydton plank road to near the White Oak road, with a view of getting across the latter; but finding the enemy strong in his front and extending beyond his left, was directed to hold on where he was and fortify. General Humphreys drove the enemy from his front into his main line on the Hatcher, near Burgess' Mills. General Ord, Wright, and Parke made examinations in their fronts to determine the feasibility of an assault on the enemy's lines. The two latter reported favorably. The enemy confronting us, as he did, at every point from Richmond to our extreme left, I conceived his lines must be weakly held, and could be penetrated if my estimate of his forces was correct. I determined, therefore, to extend our line no and thus enable him to cut loose and turn the enemy's right flank, and with the other corps assault the enemy's lines. The result of the offensive effort of the enemy the week before, when he assaulted Fort Stedman, particularly favored this. The enemy's entrenched picket-line captured by us at that time threw the lines occupied by the beligerents one to the other. Preparations were at once made to relieve General Humphreys' corps to report to General Sheridan, but the condition of the roads prevented immediate movement. On the morning of the 31st General Warren reported favorably to getting possession of the White Oak road, and was directed to do so. To accomplish this, he