GRANT, Ulysses S., President. Autograph letter signed ("U.S. Grant") to Major Gen. E.O. C. Ord, Head Quarters Armies of the United States, City Point [Va.], 24 March 1865. 1¼ pages, 4to, on Grant's Headquarters stationery, blank page with recipient's pencilled docket. Fine.
GRANT'S INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE RETURN OF PHILIP SHERIDAN FROM HIS SHENANDOAH CAMPAIGN
During the long stalemate on the Richmond-Petersburgh lines, General Sheridan and his command had been employed by Grant in highly mobile offensive operations. Grant was convinced that the Confederate forces under Jubal A. Early in the Shenandoah were weak, and ordered Sheridan, with some 10,000 cavalry, to move south from Winchester against Lynchburg. At Waynesboro on 2 March Sheridan defeated Early, taking some 1,600 prisoners, then crossed the mountains to Charlottesville, but decided that Lynchburg was too strongly held to attack. On the 10th he learned that all the bridges across the James River had been destroyed by the Confederates, and informed Grant by messenger that he would march north to rejoin the main army via White House. He reached Ashland Station on the 12th "only to find that Longstreet was moving against him with the divisions of Fitz Lee and Pickett from Richmond" (Boatner, 749). But he managed to elude the pursuing Confederate forces and safely reached White House, where he was protected by Union gunboats. Here, Grant gives instructions to one of his commanders to prepare for Sheridan's arrival: "A dispatch from Gen. Sheridan of Tuesday said that he would be able to start from 'White House' on Saturday and that he would come by Jones Bridge if practicable. He had sent an officer to examine the route and would report to me. If he came by that route he thought he would require no cooperation from your troops. I have not heard from him since and have deferred giving you orders in consequence. In the absence of further instructions you may move out to-morrow and open the route by Long Bridge in the manner proposed in your note of this date. As there is no intention of using Bolthams[?] Bridge there is no necessity of risking detachments of troops there."
Sheridan, who had caused considerable damage and tied up many rebel troops while suffering very light casualties, rested his exhausted command at White House, waited for resupply, and by 28 March, three days after this letter, was in bivouac with Grant at Petersburg in time for the important battle of Five Forks, April 1.