It is impossible to overestimate the value of this day's work. The enemy's supplies were taken, as it were, out of their mouths. A strong force, they knew not how strong, was posted along their line of retreat at a point where they did not expect opposition. Night was upon them; tired, dispirited, and starving they lay at our feet. Their bravest soldiers, their hardiest men, gave way when they heard the noise of battle far in the rear, and the night of despair fell with the night of the 8th of April darkly and terribly on the Army of Northern Virginia.
April 9, at daylight the command was in readiness to move. General Crook relieved the First Division in the position which it had occupied during the night. This division was ordered to move to the right. The enemy advanced against General Crook's front in heavy force. The cavalry was forced back by overwhelming numbers. General Custer was immediately ordered to move up with his division. The cavalry retired slowly, but of necessity. Soon the Twenty-fourth corps took up Crook's line on the left of the First Division, and the Fifth Corps deployed in rear of General Devin. So soon as the heavy columns of the enemy discovered we had infantry in position he abandoned his evidently formed idea of forcing the road of his retreat, and retired precipitately toward the valley, where his wagon train was parked. The cavalry, now disengaged, was thrown rapidly to the right, taking possession of the high ground on the enemy's left within a short half mile of his camp. There every disposition was made for an attack. The rebel army was at our mercy. The artillery played rapidly for a few moments, when a flag of truce sent from the enemy's line silenced forever the noise of battle between the Union and rebel armies of Virginia.
April 10, the command marched at 8 a.m. for Burke's Station, under the immediate command of General Custer. The undersigned, having been appointed one of the Union commissioners to arrange the details of surrender, remained at Appomattox Court-House until the 12th instant.
Thus were concluded the labors of the campaign-a campaign, so far as cavalry in concerned, which has scarcely a parallel in history Never did men behave better; never endure more uncomplainingly the severest of hardships. No task was too severe; no danger too imminent for the cavalry to encounter or overcome. The gallant, daring, and rapid execution of the brave commander of the Third Division, united with the sure, steady, and unchangeable courage and bearing of the commander of the First Division, have accomplished a work which must shed glory on the Union cavalry for all time to come.
In making up this record it was impossible to enter into details with reference to the different commands or officers without extending it to a very great length. The attention of the major-general commanding is respectfully invited to the reports of division commanders transmitted herewith; they will necessarily enter more largely into particulars. The exceptions to those throughout the command who have given the most complete satisfactory are very few. It is enough glory to be associated with such men-a double glory to have commanded them.
To my staff I owe especial thanks; one and all, they performed their duties at all times with judgment, energy, and indefatigable zeal. I commend them to the attention of the major-general commanding.
Brevet Major-General, Commanding Cavalry.
Chief of Staff, Headquarters Cavalry.
71 R R-VOL XLVI, PT I