and from which I was expected to make a cavalry raid on the South Side Railroad, and thence join General Sherman or return to Petersburg, as circumstances might dictate. However, during the night the lieutenant-general sent me instructions to abandon the contemplated raid and act in concert with the infantry, under his immediate command, and turn the right flank of Lee's army if possible.
Early on the morning of the 30th of March I directed General Merritt to send the First Division, Brigadier-General Devin commanding, to gain possession of the Five Forks, on the White Oak road, and directed General Crook to send General Davies' brigade of his division to the support of General Devin. Gregg's brigade, of Crook's division, was held on the Boydton plank road, and guarded the crossing of Stony Creek, forcing the enemy's cavalry, that was moving from Stony Creek Depot to form a connection with the right of their army, to make a wide detour, as I had anticipated, on the roads south of Stony Creek and west of Chamberlain's Bed-a very fatiguing march in the bad condition of the roads. A very heavy rain fell during this day, aggravating the swampy nature of the ground, and rendering the movements of troops almost impossible. General Merritt's reconnaissance developed the enemy in strong force on the White Oak road, in the vicinity of the Five Forks, and there was some heavy skirmishing throughout the day.
Next morning, March 31, General Merritt advanced toward the Five Forks with the First Division, and, meeting with considerable opposition, General Davies' brigade, of Crook's division, was ordered to join him, while General Crook, advancing on the left with the two other brigades of his division, encountered the enemy's cavalry, at Chamberlain's Creek, at a point a little north and west of Dinwiddie, making demonstrations to cross. Smith's brigade was ordered to hold them in check, and Gregg's brigade to a position on his right. The advance of the First Division got possession of the Five Forks, but in the meantime the Fifth Army Corps, which had advanced toward the White Oak road from the Vaughan road, was attacked and driven back, and withdrawing from that point, this force of the enemy marched rapidly from the front of the Fifth Corps to the Five Forks, driving in our cavalry advanced, and moving down on roads west of Chamberlan's Creek, attacked General Smith's brigade, but were unable to force his position. Abandoning the attempt to cross in his front, this force of the enemy's infantry succeeded in effecting a crossing higher up the creek, striking General Davies' brigade, of the Second Division, which, after a gallant fight, was forced back upon the left flank of the First Division, thus partially isolating all this force from my main line covering Dinwiddie Court-House. Orders were at once given to General Merritt to cross this detached force over to the Boydton plank road and march down to Dinwiddie Court-House and come into the line of battle. The enemy, deceived by this movement, followed it up rapidly, making a left wheel and presenting his rear to my line of battle. When his line was nearly parallel to mine, General Gibbs' brigade, of the First Division, and General Irvin Gregg's brigade, of the Second Division, were ordered to attack at once, and General Custer was directed to bring up two of his brigades rapidly, leaving one brigade of his division with the trains, that had not yet reached Dinwiddie Court-House. In the gallant attack made by Gibbs and Gregg the enemy's wounded fell into our hands, and he was forced to face by the rear rank and give up his movement, which, if continued would have taken in flank and rear the infantry line of the Army of the Potomac. When the enemy had faced to meet