fracturing establishments, tearing up and demolishing all the locks on the James River Canal from Scottsville to New Market. I had directed him to try and obtain possession of the bridge across the James River at Duguidsville, intending to hold it and strike the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Depot and follow up its destruction to Farmville, where the High Bridge crosses the Appomattox. A bold dash was made to secure this bridge, but without avail, as the enemy had covered it with inflammable material and set it on fire the instant their scouts signalled the approach of our forces. They also, and by the same means, burned the bridge across the James River at Hardwicksville, leaving me master of all the country north of the James River.
My eight pontoons would not reach half way across the river, and my scouts from Lynchburg reported the enemy concentrating at that point from the west, together with a portion of General Pickett's division from Richmond and Fitz Lee's cavalry. It was here that I fully determined to join the armies of the lieutenant-general in front of Petersburg, instead of going back to Winchester, and also make a more complete destruction of the James River Canal and the Virginia Central and Fredericksburg railroads, connecting Richmond with Lynchburg and Gordonsville.
I now had all the advantage, and by hurrying quickly down the canal, and destroying it as near Richmond as Goochland, or beyond, and then moving up to the railroad and destroying it as close up to the city as possible, in the same manner I did toward Lynchburg, I felt convinced I was striking a hard blow by destroying the means of supply to the rebel capital, and, to a certain extent, the Army of Northern Virginia, besides leaving the troops now concentrating at Lynchburg without anything to oppose them, and forcing them to return to Richmond. This conception was at once decided upon, and Colonel Fitzhugh's brigade was ordered to proceed to Goochland and beyond immediately, destroying every lock upon the canal, and cutting the banks wherever practicable.
The next morning the entire command moved from New Market down the canal leisurely, completely destroying the locks and the banks about the aqueducts, and in some places cutting the banks.
The rain and mud still impeded us, and the command, particularly the transportation, was much worn and fatigued; however, by replacing our worn-out mules with those captured from General Ealy's trains, and with the assistance of nearly 2,000 negroes who attached themselves to the command, we managed to get along in very good shape, reaching Columbia on the evening of the 10th instant, at which place we were rejoined by Colonel Fitzhugh's brigade. Colonel Fitzhugh had destroyed the canal about eight miles east of Goochland, thereby reducing it to a very small length.
At Columbia we took one day's rest, and I here sent a communication to the lieutenant-general commanding the armies, notifying him of our success, position, and condition, and requesting supplies to be sent to White House.
My anxiety now was to be able to cross the Pamunkey. I felt confident that the enemy would march out a heavy force, and try to destroy my command, and prevent me from crossing the river. The railroad from Richmond to Gordonsville was still intact, and to go south of the Pamunkey River, and between it and Richmond, I regarded as too hazardous, and I was fearful that the enemy might use it to get on my flank and rear; General Custer was therefore directed to strike the railroad at Frederick's Hall, and General Merritt at Louisa Court-House. General