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Battles

Sheridan's Raid (Cavalry), May 9-24, 1864

Finding that the task of dislodging Lee from Spottsylvania was not likely to be a short one, and lacking forage for his cavalry, general Grant directed Sheridan to collect his corps, clear Stuart's cavalry from his way, and proceed to Haxall's Landing on the James river, south of Richmond, where he was to be supplied from General Butler's stores, and then to return to the army, wherever it might be. Starting next morning, the 9th, with Merritt's and Gregg's divisions, Sheridan moved to the east by the plank road, to get well clear of the enemy's infantry. At the point where the Telegraph road crosses Massaponax Run, he was joined by Wilson's division. Turning then to the south down the Telegraph road, he moved cautiously pas the right of Lee's army. The corps moved in a single column, thirteen miles long; Merritt leading, Wilson in the centre, and Gregg in the rear. Stuart pursued with Wickham's, Lomax's and Gordon's brigades (number between 4,000 and 5,000 men), and harassed Davies's brigade, which was the rear guard all the way from the Ta to Chilesburg, but did not hinder the march of the column. The weather was hot and a number of men were sunstruck.*1*

Wilson's division bivouacked that night on the north bank of the North Anna at Anderson's Ford. Custer was sent to cut the Virginia Central railroad at Beaver Dam, where he recaptured 375 officers and men taken prisoners in the Wilderness, and destroyed the depot buildings, with three locomotives, 100 cars, 90 wagons, ten miles of railroad, over 1,500,000 rations and nearly all the medical stores of Lee's army.

Next morning a shell which fell in the camp of the Vermont cavalry announced Stuart's presence, and the regiment mounted and moved into position, but was not called in action, Gregg doing the fighting, while Wilson crossed the river, and then with dismounted men in rifle-pits and artillery, protected Gregg's crossing. During the remainder of this day, the 10th, the column pressed steadily forward, crossed the South Anna at Ground Squirrel Bridge, and bivouacked at night on the south bank, the Fi9rst Vermont camping in a large field just across the bridge. Throughout the day, Gordon's brigade hung on the rear, while Stuart with Fitzhugh Lee's division turned to the left and pushed on, hot foot, to get between Sheridan and Richmond. That night Davies's brigade was detached and sent to Ashland Station, where it destroyed the depot buildings, a locomotive and train of cars, a considerable quantity of military stores, six miles of the railroad and two bridges.

In the morning of the 11th some of Gordon's men charged into the field where the Vermont regiment was lying; but were easily repulsed.

Notes:

1. Joseph Benoit of company D was among these. He was captured, and died in Andersonville prison.


Source George G. Benedict, "Vermont in the Civil War, 1861-5," (Free Press Association, Burlington, 1888), pp. 635-6.