War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 1300 N. AND SE.VA.,N.C.,W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

advance toward the railroad made. It was repulsed by Rosser. Pickett was driven rapidly toward the prolongation of the right of his line of battle by the combined attack of this infantry corps and Sheridan's cavalry, making a total of over 26,000 men, to which he was opposed with 7,000 men of all arms. Our forces were driven back some miles, the retreat degenerating into a rout, being followed up principally by the cavalry, whilst the infantry corps held the position our troops were first driven from threatening an advance upon the railroad, and paralyzing the force of reserve cavalry by necessitating its being stationary in an interposing position to check or retard such an advance. The disastrous halt was made at Five Forks upon the day of our retrograde movement from Dinwiddie Court-House, on account of the importance of the location as a point of observation to watch and develop movements then evidently in contemplation, the importance of preserving which intact could not be overestimated. It was thought Pickett's infantry and my cavalry could successfully contend against the superior numbers of the enemy's cavalry [and which the fighting the day before amply verified], and should their infantry be withdrawn from the position of their lines contiguous to our operations, a corresponding force of our own would have thus been made available and could be used to restore the status, the distance from Burgess' Mills [the terminus, respectively, of the right and left of the two lines of battle] being short from Five Forks, with a plain road joining the two. I remained in position on Hatcher's Run, near Five Forks, during the night, and was joined by the cavalry which was driven back the previous afternoon and by Lieutenant-General Anderson, with Wise's and Gracie's brigades, who, leaving the position at Burgess' Mills, had marched by a circuitous route to our relief. Had he advanced up the direct road it would have brought him on the flank and rear of the infantry forming the enemy's right, which attacked our left at Five Forks, and probably changed the result of the unequal contest. Whilst Anderson was marching, the Fifth Corps was marching back, and was enabled to participate in the attack upon our lines the next day, whilst the services of the three infantry brigades which General Anderson re-enforced us by too late for use and the contending forces upon the next day for the possession of the lines circumvallating Petersburg.

On April 3 General Anderson, learning that the enemy had been successful in penetrating our lines, and that our army was withdrawing from the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg, commenced moving back on the Namozine and Tabernacle road toward Amelia Court-House. I followed, protecting his rear and skirmishing with the enemy's advance until Amelia Court-House was reached, on the 5th instant. At Deep Creek, en route, the command was placed in line of battle to take advantage of the defensive position offered and to give a check to the enemy's rapid advance. Wise's and Hunton's brigades constituted a part of the rear guard at that time. The attack was not made upon us until after dark, and was principally sustained by Munford's command, of my old division, with a steadiness reflecting high credit upon the valor and discipline of his men. Owing to the fact that General Heth's troops were expected to arrive by the road by which the enemy advanced, they were permitted to approach very close to our lines, and it was not until Lieutenant-Colonel Strother, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, was sent to reconnoiter that it was ascertained who they were, he having walked into their line of skirmishers,