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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 46, Part 1 (Appomattox Campaign)
Page 1162 N. AND SE. VA., N.C., W.VA.,MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

staff, and the most gallant and reliable officer I had at hand, to conduct the party, cautioning him to reconnoiter the country well before he moved up to the Farmville bridge; and after I received General Sheridan's dispatch I sent the next best staff officer I had to caution Read that Lee's army was in his rear, and he must return by pressing on, crossing the Appomattox and going around by Prince Edward Court-House. The last officer was driven back by Lee's cavalry. Read overtook Washburn's small party, took the cavalry into Farmville and examined the country, returned to the infantry, and was pushing for the bridge when the advance cavalry of Lee's whole army overtook them within two miles of the bridge. Here, about noon, the gallant Read drew up his little band of 80 cavalry and 500 infantry, rode along the front of his ranks, inspired them with all his own daring, and began the battle with an army in his front. Charge after charge was made by the handful of cavalry, led by the chivalrous Washburn, who captured more rebels than he had men; but Read fell mortally wounded, then Washburn, and at last not an officer of that cavalry party remained alive or unwounded to lead the men, and not until then did they surrender. But, as I learned afterward, this stubborn fight in his front led General Lee to believe that a heavy force had struck the head of his column; he halted his whole army, began entrenching, issued what was called a stampeding order, so that not long afterward Sheridan's cavalry and the Sixth Corps did overtake and strike him, and swept his lines for some two miles.

I left Burkeville for Farmville with my forces as soon as I found the direction which the rebels were taking, orders to that effect having been sent me, but I had done it when they reached me, with the intention of intercepting them in front or striking them on their flank. Found them heavily entrenched near Rice's Station. My column was developed, skirmishers moving up when night came on. That night they again broke for Lynchburg. Here the colored division overtook the main column, and we pushed after in three columns-Birney's, Foster's, and Turner's-to strike them at Farmville, my command still being the left wing and held ready to cut off all retreat toward Danville. At Farmville the rebels had some seven trains of supplies which had come down from Lynchburg to meet them, but we were upon their flank and rear as they marched into Farmville. The railroad here passed to the south of the Appomattox, the main road to Lynchburg to the north of it, the two roads coming nearly together again at Appomattox Court-House, so that General Lee, not being able to hold Farmville long enough to get the food and clothing off the trains, sent them up to Appomattox by rail, while he took the Lynchburg road around to the north, so as to strike the supplies at Appomattox; but General Grant was too quick for him, dispatching Sheridan with his cavalry to go around and head them at Appomattox at once (the trains of provisions were all captured or driven back), and dispatch my command on the rebels of Sheridan, with directions to me to pick up Griffin's corps, then pushing from Prince Edward toward Appomattox, and with both corps to attack Lee on the head and front.

I marched my men from daylight on the 8th until 10 a.m. on the 9th of April, except three hours, and deployed my two corps across the head of the valley just as Lee's advance was pushing out of it, for, in spite of Sheridan's attempts to hold him, our cavalry were falling back in confusion before Lee's infantry. We were barely in time. General Lee would not believe General Gordon when the latter told him Ord's army was in his front, so General Gordon told me after the surrender; but we


Page 1162 N. AND SE. VA., N.C., W.VA.,MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 46, Part 1 (Appomattox Campaign)
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