« PreviousContinue »
to Goldsboro'. If you reach Lynchburg, you will have to be guided in your after-movements by the information you obtain. Before you could possibly reach Sherman, I think you would find him moving from Goldsboro' toward Raleigh, or engaging the enemy strongly posted at one or the other of these places, with railroad communications opened from his army to Wilmington or Newbern.
"U. S. GRANT, "Major-General P. H. SHERIDAN."
General Sheridan moved from Winchester on the twenty-seventh of February, with two divisions of cavalry, numbering about five thousand each. On the first of March he secured the bridge which the enemy attempted to destroy, across the middle fork of the Shenandoah, at Mount Crawford, and entered Staunton on the second, the enemy having retreated on Waynesboro'. Thence he pushed on to Waynesboro', where he found the enemy in force in an intrenched position, under General Early. Without stopping to make are connoissance, an immediate attack was made, the position was carried, and sixteen hundred prisoners, eleven pieces of artillery, with horses and caissons complete, two hundred wagons and teams loaded with subsistence, and seventeen battle-flags, were captured. The prisoners, under an escort of fifteen hundred men, were sent back to Winchester. Thence he marched on Charlotteville, destroying effectually the railroad and bridges as he went, which place he reached on the third. Here he remained two days, destroying the railroad toward Richmond and Lynchburg, including the large iron bridges over the north and south forks of the Rivanna river, and awaiting the arrival of his trains. This necessary delay caused him to abandon the idea of capturing Lynchburg. On the morning of the sixth, dividing his force into two columns, he sent one to Scottsville, whence it marched up the James River canal to New Market, destroying every lock, and in many places the bank of the canal. From here a force was pushed out from this column to Duiguidsville, to obtain possession of the bridge across the James river at that place, but failed. The enemy burned it on our approach. The enemy also burned the bridge across the river at Hardwicksville. The other column moved down the railroad toward Lynchburg, destroying it as far as Amherst Court-house, sixteen miles from Lynchburg; thence across the country, uniting with the column at New Market. The river being very high, his pontoons would not reach across it; and the enemy having destroyed the bridges by which he had hoped to cross the river and get on the Southside railroad about Farmville, and destroy it to Appomattox Court-house, the only thing left for him was to return to Winchester or strike a base at the White House. Fortunately, he chose the latter. From New Market
he took up his line of march, following the canal toward Richmond, destroying every lock upon it and cutting the banks wherever practicable, to a point eight miles east of Goochland, concentrating the whole force at Columbia on the tenth. Here he rested one day, and sent through by scouts information of his whereabouts and purposes, and a request for supplies to meet him at White House, which reached me on the night of the twelfth. An infantry force was immediately sent to get possession of White House, and supplies were forwarded. Moving from Columbia in a direction to threaten Richmond, to near Ashland station, he crossed the Annas, and after having destroyed all the bridges and many miles of the railroad, proceeded down the north bank of the Pamunkey to White House, which place he reached on the nineteenth. Previous to this the following communication was sent to General Thomas:
"CITY POINT, VA., March 7, 1865-9:30 A. M. "GENERAL: I think it will be advisable now for you to repair the railroad in East Tennessee, and throw a good force up to Bull's Gap and fortify there. Supplies at Knoxville could always be got forward as required. With Bull's Gap fortified, you can occupy as outposts about all of East Tennessee, and be prepared, if it should be required of you in the spring, to make a campaign toward Lynchburg, or into North Carolina. I do not think Stoneman should break the road until he gets into Virginia, unless it should be to cut off rolling stock that may be caught west of that.
"U. S. GRANT, "Lieutenant-General.
" Major-General G. H. THOMAS."
Thus it will be seen that in March, 1865, General Canby was moving an adequate force against Mobile and the army defending it under General Dick Taylor; Thomas was pushing out two large and well-appointed cavalry expeditions-one from Middle Tennessee under Brevet Major-General Wilson against the enemy's vital points in Alabama, the other from East Tennessee under Major-General Stoneman toward Lynchburg and assembling the remainder of his available forces, preparatory to offensive operations from East Tennessee; General Sheridan's cavalry was at White House; the armies of the Potomac and James were confronting the enemy, under Lee, in his defences of Richmond and Petersburg; General Sherman with his armies, reinforced by that of General Schofield, was at Goldsboro'; General Pope was making preparations for a spring campaign against the enemy under Kirby Smith and Price, west of the Mississippi; and General Hancock was concentrating a force in the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, to guard against invasion or to operate offensively, as might prove necessary.
After the long march by General Sheridan's cavalry over winter roads, it was necessary to