hment, and the 9th corps was raled to drive the foe out–Hartranft's ivision making the counter-assault —the Rebels were too few to hold heir perilous position; while the round over which they had reached was so swept by our guns from ther side, that 2,000 preferred to irrender rather than follow their being comrades through that terrile fire. Aside from this, the loss of ther army was some 2,500. Nor was this the extent of the nemy's mishap. Gen. Meade, connced that their lines generally must ave been depleted to strengthen this sault, ordered an advance along the ont of the 6th and 2d corps, holdg our works before Petersburg to le left of Fort Steedman; and this as made with such spirit that the inned line of the enemy recoiled bere it, and their strongly intrenched cket-line was wrested from them ld permanently held by their angonists. Thus, instead of shaking mself free from Grant's gripe, Lee ld only tightened it by this bold roke; rendering his withdrawal to orth Carolina even more difficult ld hazardous than before. Grant had already” prepared, if it issued, his order for a general, de‘mined advance by his left on the th. To the obvious reasons which d formerly impelled a movement flank the enemy's right was now ded the necessity of intercepting d precluding Lee's withdrawal to rth Carolina. Hence, the strategy a nearly simultaneous attack on th flanks of the Rebel position was w abandoned: three divisions of Army of the James, now cominded by Ord, being withdrawn"

from the banks of the James, where it had so long menaced Richmond, and brought over to the left of our lines facing Petersburg; when the 5th (Warren's) and 2d (Humphreys's) corps moved quietly out" southwestward till they had crossed Hatch. er's run; when, facing northward, they advanced, feeling for the enemy's right. Sheridan was on our extreme left, at the head of nearly 10,000 cavalry, acting under orders directly from Gen. Grant. The 9th (Parke's) and one of Ord's divisions were left to hold our extended lines under the command of Gen. Parke: all dismounted troopers being order. ed to report to Gen. Benham, who guarded our immense accumulation of supplies at City Point. Humphreys crossed Hatcher's run at the Waughan road; while Warren, moving farther to the left, crossed four miles below, where the stream, since its junction with Gravelly run, has become Rowanty creek; thence moving up by the Quaker road to strike the Boydton plank-road. Sheridan moved nearly south to Dinwid: die C. H.; where, at 5 P.M., he halted for the night. Warren's corps alone encountered any serious resistance this day. Approaching the Confederate lines, Griffin's division, leading, was sharply assailed; but held its ground and repulsed the enemy, taking 100 pris: oners. Our loss here was 370 killed and wounded. Warren rested for the night in front of the Rebel intrenchments covering the White Oak road. Humphreys—moving in an extended line, over a densely wooded and difficult country, repelling skirmishers only—had not struck the enemy's intrenched line when night arrested his advance. Rain fell heavily all that night and next day: our infantry doing little beyond perfecting their formation and their connections; while Sheridan, pressing back the enemy, without much fighting, behind his intrenchments, pushed forward part of his cavalry on their right flank to Five Forks, where they found the enemy too strong to be ridden over or driven off; and returned, through the rain and mud, to Dinwiddie C. II. Grant, who was on the field, directing the general movement, ordered Warren to support the cavalry; placing him under Sheridan's command. Next morning,” the rain had ceased; but the earth was so soaked and flooded that Grant proposed in the main to stand still. But Lee had other views. Alive to his peril, he had left his works immediately covering Richmond to be held by some 8,000 men, under Longstreet, while he hurried all the rest of his infantry, through rain and mire, to the support of his endangered right; his cavalry, which had been posted at Stony creek, far on his right, and which Sheridan's advance had isolated, making a long detour around Dinwiddie C. II. to regain its lost COmmunications. Warren had pushed forward skirmishers on his left to seize the White Oak road beyond the Rebel right, and had ordered Ayres to advance Winthrop's brigade through the Woods to support the effort; when, * 104 A. M., Lee dealt him an un$opected and staggering blow; striking Ayres heavily in flank and rear;

* Dated March 24.

* March 27.

* March 29.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


hurling his division back in disorder on Crawford's, which likewise broke; so that there was, for a moment, a prospect of another Chancellorsville. But behind these two stood Griffin's division, well posted in more open ground, whence it refused to be driven; stopping the Rebel advance, while the routed divisions rallied behind it, enabling Warren to assume the offensive; IIumphreys supporting his counter-charge by sending in Miles's division on Warren's right to strike the enemy's left flank. Before these well-timed charges, the enemy recoiled; taking refuge behind his intrenchments along the White Oak road; having lost heavily by his assault, mainly in prisoners. Still, his position was so strong that repeated and vigorous attempts by Miles, Mott, and IIays, under IIumphreys's orders, to penetrate it at different points, were repelled—the abatis which covered its front being even more formidable than the Rebels behind it. Sheridan, meantime, had renewed his once foiled effort to turn the Rebel right by a resolute advance from Dinwiddie C. H. to Five Forks; and, while Lee's infantry was in conflict with Warren, he had advanced to and carried the coveted position. But now—the attack on Warren having failed—Lee impelled Pickett's and Bushrod Johnson's divisions of infantry westward along the White Oak road to Five Forks, where they fell upon Devin's division and Davies's brigade of cavalry there posted, drove them out in disorder, and followed them nearly to Dinwiddie C. H.; at length interposing between Devin and Sheridan's main line, and comDevin to make a long detour Boydton plank-road to rejoin ef. The Rebels, mistaking

* March 31.

a farther retreat, attempted

; thereby presenting their Ind rear to Sheridan, who with the brigades of Gregg obs; compelling the enemy to of Devin, and permit him to his chief without farther And, though they now ashe latter in superior force, olved to drive him, they were o make any headway. Sherimounted his troopers, posted Yehind a slight breastwork, eived his assailants with so a fire that they recoiled; and s fell before they were ready gain. When morning came, d been withdrawn by Lee; ubtless saw that Pickett was to be struck in flank by War. ile assailed in front by Sheril thus disastrously routed. time, there was very natural ind anxiety at headquarters, was only known that Sheribeen driven back from Five o Dinwiddie, and there atby the enemy in force, with ospect of routing him. Wareived order after order to o Sheridan's rescue, and had Wres's division through the d darkness; but Ayres, movhe Boydton plank-road, had pped at Gravelly run, where ge was gone; and it was 2 ore he had rebuilt and got ; hurrying on to Dinwiddie; e arrived at daybreak;" just ast of the Rebels—a picket y—were hurrying off to join barted comrades.

Sheridan, who had ascertained by midnight that the enemy were leaving, had been perfectly at ease while all beside his command had passed a night of apprehension on his account; So at daybreak he advanced, supported by Ayres, on the track of his late assailants; being, at 7 A.M., joined midway by Warren with his two other divisions.

Advancing steadily and boldly, Sheridan had, with his cavalry alone, by 2 P. M., pressed back the Rebels into their works at Five Forks, leaving Warren's corps entirely disposable: and now, while directing Gen. Merritt, with his division of cavalry, to threaten to turn the Rebel right, at the same time that they were sharply pressed in front, Sheridan ordered Warren—hitherto passive in his rear—to advance the 5th corps on our right to the White Oak road, so as to be fully on the enemy's left flank, and then, by a left-wheel movement, fall upon that flank in full force, striking the enemy well toward the rear, and rolling his force up on itself, in utter rout and confusion. Meanwhile, McKenzie, with the inconsiderable cavalry of the Army of the James, just arrived, was to cover Warren's right flank against attack from the direction of Petersburg. This order was promptly and thoroughly obeyed; McKenzie vigorously attacking and driving the only Rebel force discoverable in that quarter. This done, he promptly countermarched, and was back in the vicinity of Five Forks, ready to partici. pate in the combined attack, before Warren was prepared to charge.

Sheridan was profoundly dissatisfied with the slowness of Warren's

* April 1.


movements, and suspected him of not wishing to make a decisive charge that day. It was now 4 P.M.–darkness, in that wooded region, would quickly follow sunset—when all of fensive operations, over ground to which our men were strangers, must utterly cease. As yet, many more of our men than of the enemy had fallen this day; and the morrow would doubtless show the Rebels either strongly rêenforced or missing. Sheridan—a raging lion on the battle-field—sought to hurry Warren's movements, using some language more energetic than courteous; and at length—the whole corps having reached the position assigned it and faced westward—the charge was made; McKenzie's horsemen having been thrown out on Warren's right, so as completely to outflank the Rebels and bar their retreat northward. Ayres's division advanced nearest to the White Oak road and the Rebel defenses, with Crawford's on its right, or farther north; Griffin's being in reserve behind it. But Crawford's left, advancing across open ground under fire of the enemy—whose left had been refused and formed at right angles with its main line to meet this attack—swerved to the right to gain the shelter of the woods, opening a gap between it and Ayres's right, on which the Rebels now directed their fire, causing it to waver and crumble; a portion of it going to the right-about in haste and disorder. Sheridan was watching this turning movement and charge in no amiable temper, and now saw its success imperiled by what he considered

[ocr errors]

Warren's indifference or inefficiency; for he believed this chasm in our charging lines could never have been opened if our troops had been handled with energy and resolution. He therefore deprived" Warren of his command, giving it to Griffin, whose division he ordered thrown forward to fill the gap in our line, which was now impelled forward with irresistible momentum; while Merritt, with the cavalry, charged the enemy's front. The Confederates, facing their foes in each direction, stood bravely to their arms; but they were two divisions—Pickett's and Bushrod Johnson's—against at least double their number, and their case was manifestly hopeless. In a few minutes, Ayres's division burst over their flank intrenchments, taking 1,000 prisoners; while Griffin struck their refused flank in the rear, capturing 1,500 more; and Crawford—resisted only by skirmishers—pressed forward rapidly to the Ford road, running northward from their center, precluding their retreat toward Lee; and then, turning southward on that road, came rapidly down upon their rear, taking 4 guns —our cavalry all the time sharply assailing their front and right, and at length charging over their intrenchments, as Ayres and Griffin, having turned their left out of its works, bore down upon its renewed front, hurling all that remained of the enemy in disorderly flight westward; charged and pursued for miles by our cavalry until long after dark, and until our prisoners exceeded 5,000; while our total loss this day was but about 1,000. At this cost,

* Swinton says that “After the close of the action, Sheridan relieved Gen. Warren from duty.” Sheridan's official report does not sustain this averment.

Warren, however, in his defense, asserts positively that Sheridan's order did not reach him till after the fighting was over.

ee's right wing had been substanally demolished. Among our killed as Brig.-Gen. Fred'k Winthrop (Col. th N. York), cousin to Maj. Theo. Winthrop, killed at Big Bethel. Sheridan now directed Griffin to love eastward with two divisions f his infantry to Gravelly church, me miles toward Petersburg, thus $opening his communications with he rest of our army, while Griffin's wn division (now Bartlett's) supportl McKenzie's cavalry, which had ushed northward up the Ford road Hatcher's run. And now, as darkness fell, by rant's order, our guns in position efore Petersburg opened from right left, making the night lurid with bombardment that proclaimed the gnal victory just achieved on our ft, and predicted more decisive trimphs at hand. Wright, Parke, and rd, still holding our intrenchments cing Petersburg and thence eastard to the Appomattox, were or•red to assault, and did assault, at lybreak next morning." Parke, in ont of Petersburg, carried, with s (9th) corps, the outer line of ebel works confronting him, capring some guns; but found an inir line behind them which he could it force, and desisted; Wright, his left, with the 6th corps, suprted by two divisions of Ord's, arging at dawn, drove every thing fore him up to the Boydton road; which, wheeling to the left, toird Hatcher's run, he swept down 2 rear of the Rebel intrenchments, pturing many guns and several Susand prisoners: meantime, Ord’s her division had forced the ener’s lines at the run ; and now

Wright and Ord swung to the right, pressing on Petersburg from the west; while Humphreys, farther to our left, with Hays's and Mott's divisions of the 2d corps, having stormed a redoubt in his front, came up with two divisions, closing in on their left. Thereupon, the Rebellines defending Petersburg on the south were assaulted by Gibbon's division of Ord’s corps, which carried by storm two strong and important works—Forts Gregg and Alexander —shortening our besieging lines, and weakening the defenses of that city. Fort Gregg was held by Harris's Mississippi brigade, now reduced to 250; of whom but 30 remained when it fell. Gibbon's loss in this assault was about 500. Miles's division of the 2d corps had been sent to réenforce Sheridan, reaching him at daybreak, and had been directed to follow the White Oak road eastward toward Petersburg, and attack the enemy at the intersection of the Claiborne road, where they were reported in force; Sheridan following immediately, with Griffin's and Crawford's divisions of the 5th. Miles assailed and carried the designated position; forcing the enemy northward across Hatcher's run, and pursuing them to Suther. land's dépôt; where he was about to attack when Gen. Humphreys came up and reclaimed Miles's division: when Sheridan desisted, returned to Five Forks, and took the Ford road out to Hatcher's run, where he crossed the 5th corps and moved rapidly to: ward Sutherland's dépôt, to strike in flank and rear the enemy who had confronted Miles. But Miles, ere this, under Humphreys's order, had dis.

* Sunday, April 2.

« 上一頁繼續 »