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but was repaired in about three hours, under a heavy artillery fire from a rebel battery. Gen. Merritt made the crossing, attacked the enemy, and drove him oft* handsomely, the pursuit continuing as far as Gaines's Mills. On the afternoon of the 12th, the corps encamped at Walnut Grove and Gaines's Mills. On the morning of the 13th, the march was renewed, and our forces encamped
at Bottom's Bridge The
Virginia Central Bailroad bridges over the Chickahominy, and other trestlebridges, one sixty feet in length, one thirty feet, one twenty feet, and the railroad, for a long distance south of the Chickahominy, were destroyed. Great praise was given to the division commanders, Gene. Gregg, Wilson and Merritt, and Gens. Custer and Davis, Cols. Gregg, Divine, Chapman, Mcintosh and Gibbs, brigade commanders; and all the officers and men behaved splendidly." The losses, all told, were estimated at about 350. The rebel loss was not ascertained, except that, as was soon after made known, their chief cavalry commander, J. E. B. Stuart, was shot in battle at Yellow Tavern.
Sheridan next moved to Haxall's Landing, on the James River, where he was in immediate communication with Butler and his forces. This raid of Sheridan's had the effect of drawing off the whole of the enemy's cavalry force, and of making it comparatively easy to guard our large and important army trains. Being conducted, also, with rare address and skill, it produced upon the rebels moral effects not to be ignored, and was one of the steps in the progress towards that brilliant reputation which Sheridan attained before the close of the war.*
* Coppee thus speaks of Sheridan: "With his usual sagacity, Grant had made an admirable choice of a commander. A young man, then only thirty-three years of ago, Sheridan had already become the most distinguished cavalry officer in the service. He was a graduate of West Point, and devoted to the profession of arms. To great and untiring energy, dashing bravery, and enthusiasm in fighting, he added the natural gift of being able to control, in an electric manner, the affections and wills of his men; and he was now to show that he had strategic intuitions of the first order, and tactical intelligence of the most clear and rapid kind. To no better man in the whole army could the difficult task have been assigned of utilizing all the troops, and grasping the strategy of this extensive and important division. He at once brought order out of chaos," etc.—" Orant and his Campaign*;' p. 381.
GRANT'S ONWARD MOVEMENTS TOWARDS RICHMOND.
Position of army affairs at this time — Meade's congratulatory order—Reinforcements —Grant orders a tnoTement to the North Anna — How executed — Strength of the rebel position — Severe fighting — Cold Harbor secured — Sigel's co-operation expected — Movements of Gens. Crook and Averill — Sigel's ill success— Superseded by Gen. Hunter — Butler's co-operation'also looked for — Attack on Fort Darling, Drury's Bluff—Grant not satisfied — Rebel attack on Butler, who gets shut up in his entrenchments — Kautz's cavalry expedition against the Danville Road — Attack by the army, June 1st — General attack against the enemy's lines, June 3d — Gallant fighting and heavy losses — Grant's views as to change or modification of plan — Preparation, severe skirmishing, etc. — Effort to gain possession of Petersburg — Gillmore and Kautz — Failure — Determination of Grant — The movement from Cold Harbor to the south of the James River — Hunter's active operations and partial success — Sheridan's important cavalry raid against the Virginia Central Railroad — Some remarks of Grant quoted — His views on several points of
The position of the Army of the Potomac, after the fiercely-contested battle of May 12th (p. 431), was, on the whole, satisfactory. Our losses, it is true, had been heavy, fearfully heavy, and the rebels, under Lee, had resisted Grant's advance with an energy and courage worthy of a better cause; but Grant was gathering in large reinforcements, and was certain of being able to push the enemy's ablest general further and further backward, and either shut him up in Richmond or compel him to surrender. Gen. Meade sought to encourage the troops under his command by a congratulatory order, May 13th, in which he spoke in the highest terms of their gallantry, steady endurance and success in the battles already fought, and which was concluded in the following terms: "Soldiers! your heroic deeds, and noble endurance of fatigue and privation, will ever be memorable. Let us
return thanks to God for the mercy thus shown us, and ask earnestly for its continuance. Soldiers! your work is not yet over. The enemy must be pursued, and, if possible, overcome. The courage and fortitude you have displayed, renders your commanding-general confident that your future efforts will result in success. Let us determine, then, to continue vigorously the work so well begun, and, under God's blessing, in a short time the object of our labors will soon be acomplished."
During the week following, heavy rains and the bad state of the roads necessitated a suspension of active operations in the army. The time was spent in resting and refreshing the troops; in getting reinforcements from Washington of some 30,000 volunteers for 100 days service, at the call of the president; and in various manoeuvres and occasional sharp skirmishes at and before Spottsylvania Court House. The
sick and wouuded, in number about 20,000, were seut by way of Fredericksburg to Washington; the cavalry was strengthened by adding several thousand fresh horses; and every preparation was made for a vigorous continuance of the struggle.
Grant, deeming it impracticable to make any further attack upon the rebels at Spottsylvania Court House, issued orders, on the 18th of May, with .a view to a movement to the North Anna, to commence at midnight of the 19th. On the 18th, an attack on the right of the enemy's works had been' made, but to no advantage; and late in the afternoon of the 19th, Ewell came out of his works against our extreme right flank; but the attack was promptly repulsed, with heavy loss.
Although the movement just ordered was delayed somewhat by Ewell's attack, yet it was begun on the night of the 21st of May. The cavalry was sent forward, and occupied the line of the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad at Guinney's Station and Bowling Green, followed immediately by Hancock's corps, and the next day by Warren's and the remainder of the army. Lee, also, at the same time, evacuated Spottsylvania, and began his march southward, moving on a direct interior line to the North Anna, where it was expected he would make a stand. There was but little opposition encountered by our troops on the route they had taken, as the several corps pushed on to the North Anna River. Hancock effected a crossing near Taylor's Bridge, after a spirited assault. Warren got his corps over
higher up, at Jericho Ford, and although violently attacked on the south branch of the stream, repulsed the enemy with heavy loss. The next day was spent in getting over the remainder of the army, in the face of considerable opposition. Grant now took up a position south of the river, and prepared to open communication with Port Royal on the Rappahannock, whither his Wounded were sent. The enemy in front held a very strong position between the North and South Anna, and covering the crossing of the Fredericksburg and the Virginia Central Railroads at Sexton's Junction.*
Grant, finding that the position of the rebels on the North Anna was stronger than either of their previous ones, withdrew, on the night of the 26th of May, to the north bank of the North Anna, and moved by way of Hanovertown, to turn the enemy's position by his right. Torbert's and Merritt's divisions of cavalry, under Sheridan, and the 6th corps, led the advance; and the Pamunkey River was crossed on the 28th, at Hanovertown, after some sharp fighting. On the same day there was a severely contested engagement between our cavalry, under Torbert and Gregg, and a body of the enemy's horse. The engagement took place at Haw's Shop or Store, and the rebels were defeated and driven about a. mile. On the 29th and 30th of May, the army advanced, with heavy skirmishing, to
* On the 24th of May, the 9th corps, commanded by Burnside, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and, from this date, was a portion of Gen. Meade's command. On the 25th, Sheridan, of whoso raid we have spoken on a previous page (p. 432), rejoined the Army of the Potomac.
the Hanover Court House and Cold Harbor road, and developed the position of the rebels north of the Chickahominy. Late on the evening of the 30th of May, to use Grant's language, "the enemy came out and attacked our left, but was repulsed with very considerable loss. An attack was immediately ordered by Gen. Meade along his whole line, which resulted in driving the enemy from a part of his entrenched skirmish line. On the 31st of May, Gen. Wilson's division of cavalry destroyed the railroad bridges over the South Anna River, after defeating the enemy's cavalry. Gen. Sheridan, on the same day, reached Cold Harbor, * and held it until relieved by the 6th corps, and Gen. Smith's command, which had just arrived, via White House, from Gen. Butler's army."
It will be recollected (see p. 424) that one of the co-operating movements on which Grant relied in carrying forward the present campaign, was that under Sigel, who was in command in the department of Western Virginia. Grant's idea was, that Sigel's force should act in such wise as to compel the rebels to detach largely for the protection of their supplies and lines of communication, or lose them; and he, accordingly, gave orders to Sigel to organize or form his available force into two columns, one under Gen. Crook, on
* The great importance of this point, with reference to Grant's plan, was evident, since it was the point of concurrence of all the roads, radiating to Richmond, or to White House, our hase of supplies. The rebels were aware of the need of securing this position, and they attacked Sheridan with all possible force and energy, in order to drive him out; but that gallant officer successfully resisted the assault —See Coppee's "Orant and Jut Campaign!," pp. 336-339
the Kanawha, numbering about 10,000 men, and one on the Shenandoah, numbering about 7,000 men. The latter was to move to Cedar Creek, and threaten the enemy in the Shenandoah Valley, advancing as far as possible; while Crook was to take possession of Lewisburg, with part of his force, and move down the Tennessee Railroad, doing as much damage as he could, destroying the New River bridge and salt works, at Saltville, Virginia.
The movement thus directed by the commander in chief to be made in the Kanawha and Shenandoah Valleys, was begun on the 1st of May. Crook, who had the immediate command of the Kanawha expedition, divided his forces into two columns, giving one, composed of cavalry, to Gen. Averill. They crossed the mountains by separate routes. Averill succeeded in distracting the attention of the noted rebel leaders, A. G. Jenkins and John Morgan, and preventing a junctiou of their forces against Crook and his movement. On the 7th of May, Averill came up with a portion of Morgan's men, and finding him in force, after a skirmish, he passed by a circuitous route over Walker Mountain, a weary march to Cove Mountain Gap, in the immediate vicinity of Wytheville, on the railroad, his proposed destination. Morgan, anticipating the movement, was met at the Gap, strongly posted with a greatly superior body of cavalry and infantry, with four pieces of cannon. Averill held his ground during the day, May 10th, against repeated assaults, and at night extricated himself from the perilous situation, with a loss in killed and