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, Va., 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 rest and refit at White House. At this time the greatest source of uneasiness to me was the fear that the enemy would leave his strong lines about Petersburg and Richmond for the purpose of uniting with Johnston, before he was driven from them by battle or I was prepared to make an effectual pursuit. On the 24th of March General Sheridan moved from White House, crossed the James River at Jones' Landing, and formed a junction with the Army of the Potomac in front of Petersburg on the 27th. During this move General Ord sent forces to cover the crossings of the Chickahominy. On the 24th of March the following instructions for a general movement of the armies operating against Richmond were issued:
CITY POINT, VA., March 24, 1865.
Major-General MEADE, ORD, and SHERIDAN:
GENERAL: On the 29th instant the armies operating against Richmond will be moved by our left, for the double purpose of turning the enemy out of his present position around Petersburg and to insure the success of the cavalry under General Sheridan, which will start at the same time, in its efforts to reach and destroy the South Side and Danville railroads. Two corps of the Army of the Potomac will be moved at first in two columns, taking the two rods crossing Hatcher's Run nearest where the present line held by us strikes that steam, both moving toward Dinwiddie Court-House.
The cavalry under General Sheridan, joined by the division now under General Davies, will move at the same time by the Wilton road and the Jerusalem plank road, turning west from the latter before crossing the Nottoway, and west with the whole column before reaching Stony Creek. General Sheridan will then move independently, under other instructions which will be given him. All dismounted cavalry belonging to the Army of the Potomac, and the dismounted cavalry from the Middle Military Division not required for guarding property belonging to their arm of service, will report to Brigadier-General Parke will be left in command of all the army left for holding the lines about Petersburg and city Point, subject, of course, to orders from the commander of the Army of the Potomac. The ninth Army corps will be left intact to hold the present line of works so long as the whole line now occupied by us is held. If, however, the troops to the left of the Ninth Corps are withdrawn then the left of the corps may be thrown back so as to occupy the position held by the army rio to the capture of the Wilton road. All troops to the left of the Ninth Corps will be held in readiness to move at the shortest notice by such route as may be designated when the order is given.
General Ord will detach three divisions, two white and one colored, or so much of them as he can, and hold his resent lines and march for the present left of the Army of the Potomac. In the absence of further orders, or until further orders are given, the white divisions will follow the left column of the Army of the Potomac, and the colored division the right column. During the movement Major-General Weitzel will be left in command of all the forces remaining behind from the Army of the James.
The movement of troops from the Army of the James will commence on the right of the 27th instant. General Ord will leave behind the minimum number of cavalry necessary for picket duty, in the absence of the amain army. A cavalry expedition from General Ord's command will also be started from Suffolk, to leave there on Saturday, the 1st of April, under colonel Sumner, of the purpose of cutting the railroad about Hicksford. This, if accomplished, will have to be a turnprise, and therefore from 300 to 500 men will be sufficient. They should, however, be supported by all the infantry that can be spared from norfolk and Portsmouth, as far out as to where the cavalry crosses the blackwater. The crossing should probably be at United. Should Colonel Sumner succeed in reaching the Wilton road he will be instructed to do al the damage possible to the triangle of roads between Hicksford, Wilton, and Gaston. The railroad bridge at Wilton being fitted up for the passage of carriage, it might practicable to destroy any accumulation of supplies the