Failing to find the expected rations at Amelia Court House on April 3, Robert E Lee issued an appeal for supplies to the local populace and spent the next day at Amelia surveying the disappointing response. With much of his command remaining stationary during the day he'd lost his critical one day marching lead on the Federal army.
On the 5th the rebel columns resumed their trek amid scattered fighting taking place all through the day. Tired, underfed and with the end clearly approaching morale was plummeting in the Confederate ranks. And worse was to come. Lee's intended line of march was southwest into North Carolina but he found himself blocked by a strong Union force at Jetersville (undoubtedly named in anticipation of the later fame of the Yankee baseball player) forcing him to change his route and send his weary troops straight west hoping to find another place where he could get ahead of the Union army and resume his southwest heading.
Late in the day, one of Sheridan's scouts sent him a captured letter, written earlier in the day, by a Southern soldier:
Dear Mama,(Sketch of Confederate soldiers drawing water from well while on retreat from Richmond; from nps. gov)
Our army is ruined, I fear. We are all safe as yet. Shyron left us sick. John Taylor is well; saw him yesterday. We are in line of battle this evening. General Robert Lee is in the field near us. My trust is still in the justice of our cause and that of God. General [A.P.] Hill is killed. I saw Murray a few moment since. Bernard Terry [he] said was taken prisoner, but may get out. I send this by a negro I see passing up railroad to Mecklenburg. Love to all.
Your devoted son,
WM. B. Taylor
(Capture of Confederate supply train by Union cavalry; from nps. gov)
That night Grant meets with Sheridan and Meade and stresses "it is not the aim only to follow the enemy, but to get ahead of him".