where the Fifth Corps was going into position, and found them coming up very slowly. I was exceedingly anxious to attack at once, for the sun was getting low, and we had to fight or go back. It was no place to intrench, and it would have been shameful to have gone back with no results to compensate for the loss of the brave men who had fallen during the day.
In this connection I will say that General Warren did not exert himself to get up his corps as rapidly as he might have done, and his manner gave me the impression that he wished the sun to go down before dispositions for the attack could be completed. As soon as the corps was in position I ordered an advance in the following formation: Ayres' division on the left, in double lines; Crawford's division on the right, in double lines; and Griffin's division in reserve, behind Crawford; and the White Oak road was reached without opposition.
While General Warren was getting into position I learned that the left of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac, on my right, had been swung around from the direction of its line of battle until it fronted on the Boydton road and parallel to it, which afforded an opportunity to the enemy to march down the White Oak road and attack me in right and rear. General Mackenzie was therefore sent up the Crump road with directions to gain the White Oak road if possible, but to attack at all hazards any enemy found, and if successful then march down that road and join me. General Mackenzie executed this with courage and skill, attacking a force of the enemy on the White Oak road and driving it toward Petersburg. He then countermarched and joined me on the White Oak road just as the Fifth Corps advanced to the attack, and I directed him to swing round with the right of the infantry and gain possession of the Ford road at the crossing of Hatcher's Run. The Fifth Corps on reaching the White Oak road made a left wheel and burst on the enemy's left flank and rear like a tornade, and pushed rapidly on, orders having been given that if the enemy's was routed there should be no halt to reform broken lines. As stated before, the firing of the Fifth Corps was the signal to General Merritt to assault, which was promptly responded to, and the works of the enemy were soon carried at several points by our brave cavalrymen. The enemy were driven from their strong line of works and completely routed, the Fifth Corps doubling up their left flank in confusion, and the cavalry of General Merritt dashing on to the White Oak road, capturing their artillery, and turning it upon them and riding into their broken ranks so demoralized them that the made no serious stand after their line was carried, but took to flight in disorder. Between 5,000 and 6,000 prisoners fell into our hands, and the fugitives were driven westward, and were pursued until long after dark by Merritt's and Mackenzie's cavalry for a distance of six miles.
During this attack I again became dissatisfied with General Warren. During the engagement portions of his line gave way when not exposed to a heavy fire, and simply from want of confidence on the part of the troops, which General Warren did not exert himself to inspire. I therefore relieved him from the command of the Fifth Corps, authority for this action having been sent to me before the battle, unsolicited.
When the pursuit was given up I directed General Griffin, who had been ordered to assume command of the Fifth Corps, to collect his corps at once, march two divisions back to Gravelly Church, and put them into position at right angles to the White Oak road, facing toward Petersburg, while Bartlett's divisions (Griffin's old) covered the Ford road to Hatcher's Run. General Merritt's cavalry went into camp on
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