army, in co-operation with our forces in front of Richmond and Petersburg. General Sherman proposed in this movement to threaten Relight, and then, by turning suddenly to the right, reach the Roanoke at Gaston or thereabouts, whence he could move on to the Richmond and Danville Railroad, striking it in the vicinity of Burkeville, or join the armies operating against Richmond, as might be deemed best. This plan he was directed to carry into execution, if he received no further directions in the meantime. I explained to him the movement I had ordered to commence on the 29th of March; that if it should not prove as entirely successful as I hoped I would cut the cavalry loose to destroy the Danville and South Side railroads, and thus deprive the enemy of further supplies, and also prevent the rapid concentration of Lee's and Johnston's armies.
I had spent days of anxiety lest each morning should bring the report that the enemy had retreated the night before. I was firmly convinced that Sherman's crossing the Roanoke would be the signal for Lee to leave. With Johnston and him combined, a long, tedious, and expensive campaign, consuming most of the summer, might become necessary. By moving out I would put the army in better condition for pursuit, and would at least, by the destruction of the Danville road, retard the concentration of the two armies of Lee and Johnston and cause the enemy to abandon much material that he might otherwise save. I therefore determined not to delay the movement ordered. On the night of the 27th Major-General Ord, with two divisions of the Twenty-fourth Corps, Major-General Gibbon commanding, and one division of the Twenty-fifth Corps, Brigadier-General Birney commanding, and Mackenzie's cavalry, took up his line of march, in pursuance of the foregoing instructions, and reached the position assigned him near Hatcher's Run on the morning of the 29th. On the 28th the following instructions were given to General Sheridan;
CITY POINT, VA., March 28, 1862.
Major General P. H. SHERIDAN:
GENERAL: The Fifth Army Corps will move by the Vaughan road at 3 a. m. to-morrow morning. The Second moves at about 9 a. m., having but about three miles to march to reach the point designated for it to take on the right of the Fifth Corps, after the latter reaching Dinwiddie Court-House. Move your cavalry at as early an hour as you can, and without being confined to any particular road or rounds. You may go out by the nearest roads inter rear of the Fifth Corps, pass by its left and passing near to or through Dinwiddie, reach the right and rear of the enemy as soon as you can. It is not the intention to attack the enemy in his entrenched position, but to force him out if possible. Should he come out and attack us, or get himself where he can be attacked, move in with your entire force in your own way, and with the full reliance that the army will engage or follow, as circumstances will dictate. I shall be on the field and will probably he able to communicate with you. Should I not do so, and you find that the enemy keeps within his main entrenched line, you may cut loose and push for the Danville road. If you find it practicable, I would like you to cross the South Side road between Petersburg and Burkeville, and destroy it to some extent. I would not advise much detention, however, until you reach the Danville road, which I would like you to strike as near to the Appomattox as possible. Make your destruction on that road as complete as possible. You can then pass on to the South Side road, west of Burkeville, and destroy that in like manner.
After having accomplished the destruction of the two railroads, which are now the only avenues of supply to Lee's army, you may return to this army, selecting your road further south, or you may go on into North Carolina and going General Sherman. Should you select the latter course, get the information to one as early as possible, so that I may send orders to meet you at Goldsborough.
U. S. GRANT,