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Sheridan had scaled them up within their main works and had drawn across their front his mask of cavalry skirmishers, behind which he now proceeded to the second part of his plan -the secret moving of the infantry.

General Warren had been directed, until the cavalry movement should be consummated, to halt at the point where he joined Sheridan, in order to refresh his men. At one o'clock, he received orders from Sheridan to march the Fifth Corps to Gravelly Run Church, about three miles distant, forming with two divisions in front and one in reserve. This formation was at once begun. Meanwhile, Merritt was demonstrating strongly against the Confederate right at Five Forks to deceive the enemy. Lynx-eyed, and attent to every quarter of the field, Sheridan now prepared to guard against any sally from the main Petersburg works upon what, after his line should be formed, would become his right and rear. This task was entrusted to McKenzie. The precaution was timely, for McKenzie, marching along the White Oak road towards the angle of the Confederate works at the Claybourn road, met a hostile force thence issuing, and attacking it boldly and skilfully drove it towards Petersburg.

The Fifth Corps was now formed, and eager to advance and strike. Crawford was on the right, Ayres on the left, and Griffin massed in column of regiments behind Crawford; Ayres and Crawford were each formed with two brigades in front and the third in rear, each brigade being in two lines. Then Warren pushed straight on to the White Oak road, which was speedily reached, being about half a mile distant, and changed front forward so that in place of being parallel to the road his line crossed it at right angles, and faced westward. This manœuvre was a left wheel, in which Ayres was the pivot and Crawford with Griffin behind the wheeling flank. The Fifth Corps was now directly upon the left of the Confederate position, overlapping it for a long distance, and McKenzie, having countermarched and returned on the White

Oak road, as Warren advanced to attack, was sent by Sheridan round to the latter's right.

The breastworks at Five Forks were of the usual character -a strong parapet of logs and earth, with redoubts at intervals, and heavy slashings thrown down in front: a thick pine undergrowth covered its approaches. The main line ran along the White Oak road upwards of a mile on each side of the road from Dinwiddie; and the breastwork was retired northerly on its left flank about one hundred yards, in a crochet; the interval thence to Hatcher's Run was guarded only by a skirmish line.

It happened therefore, that, when the Fifth Corps wheeled into position across the White Oak road, close upon the Confederate left, Ayres's division covered the ground fronting the refused line of breastworks, while Crawford and Griffin overlapped it. Before the two latter divisions had completed their change of front, Ayres became sharply engaged with the Confederate skirmishers, and driving them back, worked his men well up to the breastworks. There, however, the enemy opened a hot fire, which reached not only Ayres but the left of Crawford. The latter officer, in order to get by the enemy's flank, as he had been directed, in order to seize the Ford road, obliqued to the right, so as to draw his other flank from the severe fire it was receiving across open ground. But this manœuvre uncovered the right of Ayres, which staggered and finally broke under a flank fire. In this crisis, Warren promptly repaired the line by throwing Griffin into the interval between Ayres and Crawford, and this disposition had a second good effect in allowing Crawford to swing out with confidence upon the enemy's rear.

Ayres now charged the intrenchments with his whole division, Gwin's brigade on the right, the Marylanders in the centre, and Winthrop's brigade on the left. The troops dashed in with splendid impetuosity and captured the works, over a thousand prisoners, and several flags. Griffin, on the

right of Ayres, falling upon the enemy's left and rear, carried the works there and fifteen hundred prisoners. Meanwhile, Crawford had struck and crossed the all-important Ford road, in the enemy's rear. This latter success rendered of course the whole position of the enemy untenable, and, to make assurance doubly sure, Warren directed Crawford to change front, and move briskly down the Ford road. Coul-. ter's brigade led, with Kellogg's on its right and rear and Baxter's beyond, and, encountering a four-gun battery posted to command the road, charged and captured it, Coulter suffering severely in the gallant exploit.

At this juncture, the Confederate position was almost entirely surrounded; for, while Warren was attacking from the east, Merritt, who took the cue for assault from the roll of the infantry fire, was charging from the south. But one avenue of escape remained open, that to the west, along the White Oak road. But before this could be gained, the exultant Union columns had broken in upon all sides, and most of the Confederates were forced to surrender.

The Forks having been carried, Warren directed Crawford. to change front again to the right, and to pursue south-westerly so as to take the enemy a second time in flank and rear; and thither also he sent a mounted cavalry brigade, which had approached on the Ford road. About a mile west of the Forks, and two miles west of the intrenchments which he had first carried, Warren found a similar line, designed to protect the left flank of what remained of the enemy, while the latter held the western extremity of his intrenched front against the Union cavalry on the south. Sheridan's orders had been that, if the enemy was routed, there should be no halt to reform broken lines; but the infantry, although full of spirit and enthusiasm, had become disorganized somewhat by their own victory, and by marching and fighting in the woods; and pausing before the enemy's new line, they were losing the momentum of pursuit in a straggling skirmish fire. At that

moment Warren rode through to the front, and called those near him to follow. The officers and color-bearers sprang out, the straggling fire ceased, and in an enthusiastic charge the last position was captured, with such of the enemy as had remained to defend it. In this charge Warren's horse was shot within a few paces of the enemy's line, an orderly killed by his side, and Colonel Richardson of the 7th Wisconsin, who had heroically sprung forward to shield Warren, was grievously wounded.

The day was now done and the battle ended. But for a distance of six miles along the White Oak road, Merritt and McKenzie chased the fugitives, until night protected them. What loss Pickett, who commanded at Five Forks, suffered in killed and wounded, is not recorded, but he left over five thousand prisoners, with four guns, and many colors, in the hands of the impetuous Sheridan. The lightness of the Union loss formed a novel sensation to the Army of the Potomac, compared to the inestimable value of the victory; for it was not above one thousand in all, of which six hundred and thirty-four fell upon Warren's corps.

So ended Five Forks-a battle which may be pronounced the finest in point of tactical execution, on the Union side, of any ever delivered in Virginia, and in which, nevertheless, brilliancy of execution is eclipsed by the magnificence of its issue.

It was a fit climax to that Shenandoah career which had already made illustrious the name of Sheridan.

III.

RESULTS OF FIVE FORKS.

Now at length the Army of the Potomac - glorious array of soldiery!-immortal alike in its gallantry and its fortitude, much-enduring, ofttimes in disaster but never in despair, the pattern of loyalty, the bright exemplar of citizen soldiery after so many toils was nearing its goal. Through

four years these and a greater host of fallen comrades, who died bequeathing them the unfinished task, had sought the prize set before them. The pangs of Tantalus had been theirs, always to touch the guerdon but never to clutch it, to see the shining spires of Richmond but not to reach them, to graze the battlements of Petersburg, not to surmount them; and to receive grievous wounds from each vain struggle. They had come across a sea of troubles, and vivid in memory were its Fredericksburgs and Cold Harbors, grim vortex-pools whose greedy maws had sucked up thousands of brave soldiers, till the waters rolled over them and they were gone. But the hour had come to fight the last fight, and to run the last race.

The joyful news from Sheridan quickly reached the headquarters of General Grant, and ran electrically along, the Union trenches. A general assault was ordered for dawn of the 2d, and, meanwhile, a terrific cannonade was opened from every available gun along the vast line, until the moment of advance. A forecast of victory seemed to impress the troops, who took thence unusual confidence and alertness. The fate of the insurrection seemed as clear as if it had been writ up in flaming letters on the sky. All the formations were speedily made, and the troops waited for the signal-gun.

The news of Pickett's disaster had reached Lee, too, and he felt its weight of meaning. His right flank was turned, a powerful column of horsemen, sustained by a corps of foot, was already moving unchecked towards the rear of his position. His main lines would be assaulted on the morrow. He resolved at once to abandon Petersburg and Richmond.

But time was needed to provide for orderly withdrawal; it was needful, too, to strike some last staggering blow at the Union columns, to paralyze as far as might be their immediate pursuit. For that purpose nothing was fitter than the net of intrenchments, parapet behind parapet, whence he had so often bloodily repulsed the Union columns. He would make

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