as soon as he discovered our movements. I also deployed my escort to retire toward the plank road to take back any men or supplies which might be coming to that point through ignorance of the change that had been made in the night. General Griffin's march having bee unmolested I did not reach him until he had met our cavalry. I then ascertained that General Ayres' division was massed about half a mile south of us, near J. M. Brook's. It will be remembered that General Ayres began to move back from the White Oak road by an order from me, sent at 9.35 p. m., and which was the first intimation of sending troops to General Sheridan. No orders stopped him, nor did anything delay him but physical obstacles, such as the darkness, bad roads, and broken bridge. I will now quote (from his report) the result:
The division was ordered to move down the Boydton pike during the night of March 31, and report to General Sheridan at Dinwiddie Court-House. Before arriving there it was met by a staff officer of General Sheridan's, with instructions to turn off on a road leading west into a road leading from Dinwiddie Court-House to the White Oak road (i. e., from R. boisseau's to J. M. Brooks') and come upon the left and rear of the enemy, who was facing General Sheridan's command, near Dinwiddie Court-House. As we approached just after daylight the enemy hastily decamped.
This actual trial disposes of the question of the ability of my troops to reach General Sheridan by midnight. It took General Ayres till daybreak. It may be said in support of the "expectations" that the state of this brigade and stream were not known when the expectations were formed, but they should have been, as the route was used for communications between General Grant and General Sheridan the two preceding days. But let us suppose the two divisions that General Grant directed to be moved by J. Boisseau's were expected to reach General Sheridan by midnight. The order which I received was written by General Meade 10.15 p. m., five minutes after General Grant's to General Sheridan. It reached me 10.50 p. m., thirty-five minutes after being written. Supposing all possible dispatch use,d twenty minutes at least would be required for me to make the necessary arrangements; twenty more minutes would be required to carry my order to the divisions; twenty more minutes for them to transmit them to the brigades, and forty minutes at least for the bugles nor drums could be sided to sound calls or arouse the men. No general could make plans based on greater rapidity of execution than here allowed, and our experience rarely realized it on the most favorable occasions, while this was one of the least so. Summing up these intervals of time we have two hours to add to the time of General Grant's writing to General Sheridan. Adding these two hours would make it at least 12 o'clock before my two divisions could move. They then had four miles to traverse, taking the White Oak road, before reaching the crossing of Gravelly Run, which would occupy till 2 a. m. I had then to cross the stream and strike the rear of the enemy attacking General Sheridan, enumerated by him as follows:
The opposing force was Pickett's division. Wise's independent brigade of infantry, and Fitzhugh Lee's, Rosser's, and W. H. Lee's cavalry commands. This force is too strong for us.
To join General Sheridan by midnight on this route I then had to capture or destroy whatever of this force was between me and General Sheridan. Any expectation more unreasonable could not have been formed, nor would I attribute them to any one not wholly ignorant of the true state of the case.