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tary operations would be greatly promoted by placing them under the direction of a single mind, which should not be that of Henry Wager Halleck.
Gen. Grant's qualifications for this most momentous trust were not universally conceded. Though over 40 years of age,' he had been a quiet civilian most of his adult life. There were many military men who estsemed Gen. Meade, Gen. Buell, Gen. McClellan, or some other of our commanders, his superior as a strategist; and several of his battles—especially those of Belmont and Shiloh —had not escaped the unfavorable judgment of military critics. There was one point, however, wherein his fitness for chief command was decided if not preeminent: and that was an utter disbelief in the efiicacy of any rosewater treatment of the Rebellion. Tie regarded the South as practically bound and helpless in the hands of a haughty, strong-willed oligarchy,who had not spent thirty years in preparation for this supreme effort in order to be bribed, or beguiled, or palavered, or bullied, into its abandonment after the gage had been thrown down and accepted. No love-taps, in his view, would ever persuade the Rebel chiefs to return to loyalty, so long as their military power should remain essentially unbroken; and he had no conception of any mode of breaking that power save by strong armies in bloody battles. His comprehensive, final report tersely says:
"From an early period in the. Rebellion, I liad been impressed with the idea that active and continuous operations of all the troops that could be brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary to a speedy termination of the War. The resources of the enemy, and his numeri
• Born April 27, 1822.
eal strength, wore far inferior to ours: but, as an offset to this, we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the Government, to garrison, and long lines of river and railroad communications to protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies.
"The armies in the East and West acted independently and without concert, like a balky team: no two ever pulling together: enabling the enemy to use to great advantage his interior lines of communication for transporting troops from east to west, reenforcing the army most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of producing, for the support of their armies. It was a question, whether our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.
"From the first, I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both North and South, until the military power of the Rebellion was entirely broken.
"I, therefore, determined, first, to use the greatest nuniberof troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy; preventing him from using the same force at different seasons against first one and then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance. Second, to hammer continuously against the. armed force ofcthe enemy and his resources, until, by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him hut an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the Constitution and laws of the land.
"Theso views have been kept constantly in mind; and orders given and campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country."
Such were the views wherewith Gen. Grant, summoned from the West by telegraph, repaired to Washington" to receive his commission and instructions as LieutenantGeneral commanding all the forces of the Union. He was formally in• March 8, 1864.
troduced, next day, to the President and Cabinet; when he was addressed by the former as follows:
"general Grant: The Nation's appreciation of what you have already done, and its reliance upon you for what .still remains to be done in the existing great struggle, are now presented witli this commission, constituting you Lieutenant-General of the armies of the United States. With this high honor, devolves upon you, also, a corresponding responsibility.
"As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add, that, with what I here speak for the Nation, goes my own hearty personal concurrence."
Gen. Grant replied, in perhaps the longest speech he ever made, a3 follows:
"Mu. President: I accept the commission with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on so many battle-fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me; and I know that, if they are properly met, it will be due to those armies; and, ahovo all, to the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men."
The President's order,in vesting him with the chief command*of all the armies of the United States, appeared the day following; on which day, he paid a flying visit to the Army of the Potomac, and started next morning on his return to arrange matters in the West, preparatory to movements inaugurating the general campaign. Gen. Halleck was announced as relieved from command at his own request, and assigned to duty in Washington as ' Chief of Staff to the Army.' Gen. Grant, in a brief and modest order, assumed command, announcing that his headquarters would be in the field, and, until further orders, with the Army of the Potomac. Gen. W. T. Sherman was assigned to the command of the military di
vision of the Mississippi, comprising the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Arkansas; Gen. J. B. McPherson, commanding, under him, the Department and Army of the Tennessee.
The residue of March and nearly the whole of April were devoted to careful preparation for the campaign. The Army of the Potomac, still commanded immediately by Gen. Meade, was completely reorganized; its five corps being reduced to three, commanded respectively by Gens. Hancock (2d), Warren (5th), and Sedgwick (6th). Maj.-Gens. Sykes, French, and Xewton, with Brig.Gens. Kenly, Spinola, and Sol. Meredith, were " relieved," and sent to Washington for orders. Gen. Burnside, who had been reorganizing and receiving large accessions to his (9th) corps in Maryland, crossed' the Potomac and joined Meade's army; though the formal incoq)oration therewith was postponed till after the passage of the Bapidan. This junction again raised the positive or fighting strength of that Army to considerably more than 100,000 men.
Earlier in the Spring, Gen. Cnster, with 1,500 cavalry, had crossed " the Rapidan, flanking the Rebel Army on the west, and moved from Culpepper C. II. by Madison C. H. to within four miles of Charlottesville, where he found his road blocked by a far superior Rebel force, and was turned back; being again waylaid near Stannardsville by a force of cavalry only, which he pushed aside with little loss, and returned'to his old camp, followed by some hnndreds of refugees from slavery to Rebels, but
having otherwise inflicted little loss and incurred still less.
This raid, though directed against tha enemy's depots, railroads, &c, was designed to distract attention from another, far more formidahle, led by Gen. Kilpatrick; who, starting10 from Stevensburg, crossed the Rapidan at Ely's ford, and moved rapidly down the opposite flank of Lee's army, by Spottsylvania C. H., to the Virginia Central Railroad at Beaverdam station, where he had his first collision and drove the enemy; thence across the South Anna to Kilby Station, on the Fredericksburg road; cutting both roads as he passed, and pushing on to within 3.V mile3 of Richmond;" passing its first and second lines of defenses, and fighting several hours before the third, which he was of course unable to carry, and compelled to fall back.
Kilpatrick camped for the night six miles from Richmond and two from the Chickahominy; where a twogun battery opened upon him, at 10i p. M., just as his weary men were dropping asleep. The charge which quickly followed was as quickly repulsed; but it was so manifest that the position was not adapted to quiet slumber.?, that Kilpatrick moved on forthwith to the Pamunkey, which he could not find boats to pass; so he was obliged to move across the "White House railroad and thence down the Peninsula; soon striking the track of a cavalry force sent up to his aid from Fortress Monroe by Gen. Butler, and encountering, when near New Kent C. II., a brigade of Black infantry, which had been likewise sent by Butler on the same errand. Pursuit by the enemy was of course at
an end. Kilpatrick had lost 150 men on this raid, had taken 500 prisoners, a good many horses, and inflicted on the Rebels serious losses in burned bridges, stations, and stores.
But Col. Ulric Dahlgren, who led a subordinate command of about 400 cavalry, had been far less fortunate. Crossing also at Ely's ferry, Dahlgren, after leaving Spottsylvania C. II., had gone farther to the right, through Louisa and Goochland counties, intending to cross the James and enter Richmond from the south when Kilpatrick assailed it from the north; but he found the river (at Dover mills) far too deep to be forded, and hanged his negro guide in the belief that he had purposely misled him away from Richmond rather than toward that city. Dahlgren now pushed down the north bank of the James to the fortifications of Richmond, which he charged at dark,'1 passing the outer works; but was repulsed with loss —of course, by far superior numbers— at the inner lines. He then, with the remnant of his forces, made a circuit around the city by Hungary to Hanovertown ferry; and, finding that Kilpatrick had been driven off east- ward, struck thence for King and Queen C. H.; but was stopped, just after crossing the Mattapony at Dabney's ferry, by a body of local militia, at whose first fire he fell dead, pierced by five balls.. His command was here scattered, each seeking to reach our lines as he best might; and some of them made their way to Kilpatrick; but at least 100 of them were picked up as prisoners.
Col. Dahlgren's body was treated with ignominy ; it being asserted that papers were found on it evidencing "March 2.
11 March 1.
a plot to liberate our prisoners on Belle Isle, near Richmond, and, by their aid, bum that city, taking the lives of Davis and his Cabinet! That these papers were Rebel forgeries, and the meditated arson and murder a Rebel invention, intended to 'fire the Southern heart,' and justify murder by a pretense of retaliation, seems no longer doubtful; while that the Confederate authorities authorized the placing of several barrels of gunpowder under Libby prison, so as to blow some thousands of Union captives into fragments in case of a successful attack, is entirely beyond dispute.
It is not impossible that Richmond might have been taken at this time, had Kilpatrick kept his men together, and taken the hazards of a sudden, sanguinary, persistent assault; but it could not have been held two days; so that its capture would have been of small importance. Had he been directed simply to destroy the railroads as thoroughly as he could, while Butler, moving by steam, had rushed on Richmond with 20,000 men, well provided with artillery, the chances of durable success would have "been far better. Butler had, in fact, attempted " to surprise Richmond by a forced march, some weeks earlier; but the design had miscarried, through the escape by bribery of a culprit from prison, who gave the alarm to the enemy, and enabled them to obstruct the roads beyond Bottom's bridge. Butler's infantry, on this expedition, marched 80 miles within 56 hours; his cavalry 150 miles in 50 hours.
All being at length in readiness, Gen. Meade's army, masking its intention by a feint on Lee's left, crossed"
the Rapidan on his right, at Germania and Ely's fords: Warren leading at Germania, followed by Sedgwick, and pushing straight into ' The WilDerness;' Hancock crossing at Ely's ford, and moving on Chancellorsville, followed by the trains of the whole army. Burnside followed next day.
The Wilderness is a considerable tract of broken table-land, stretching southward from the Rapidan nearly to Spottsylvania Court House,seamed with ravines and densely covered with dwarfish timber and bushes, diversified by very few clearings, but crossed by three cr four good roads, the best of them centering on Fredericksburg, and by a multiplicity of narrow cart-tracks, used in peace only by wood-cutters. (It is a mineral region, and its timber has been repeatedly swept off as fuel for miners.) In this tangled labyrinth, numbers, artillery and cavalry, are of small account; local knowledge, advantage of position, and command of roads, everything.
Lee's army, alert and vigilant, was just west of it; the roads diverged, fan-like, on that side: it was Grant's obvious interest to get through this chapparal as quickly and with as little fighting as possible: it was Lee's business not to let him. Hence, the moment our movement was developed, the Rebel army, which had been looking north across the Rapidan, was faced to the right and moved rapidly down parallel with our advance, forming lino of battle some six miles east of its strong defenses on Mine run, which proffered a safe refuge iu case of disaster. Lee, like Meade, had reorganized his army in three corps;
whereof Ewell's (late the right), on its change of front, held the left, next the Rapidan; A. P. Hill coming into line on the right; while LongBtreet (recently returned from his East Tennessee campaign) was posted near Charlottesville, two marches off, but was rapidly brought up, and came into action the second day. The ground was as unfavorable for us as could be; j^et Grant, being unexpectedly assailed—for he had confidently expected to get through unmolested —had no choice but to fight: neither Burnside nor our trains being yet fairly over the river; so that any attempt to evade Lee's unlooked-for blow would have compromised, not merely the campaign, but the army.
Hardly a shot had been fired on the first day of our movement; the Rebel pickets retreating precipitately before our imposing advance, to speed the great news to their leaders. Gen. Warren, with his corps, forming our
infantry advance, rested for the night at the ' Old Wilderness tavern,' five miles from the ford, where Grant and Meade crossed and made their headquarters next morning; Gen. Sedgwick's corps was between them and the ford; Gen. Hancock, with his corps, halted at or near Chancellorsvilie, in the rear of Warren. Our cavalry, under Sheridan and his lieutenants, Wilson and Gregg, covered the front and flanks of the infantry.
Warren had orders to move, supported by Sedgwick, early next morning," to Parker's store, five miles S. W. of his camping-ground; following the road leading to Orange Court House: Hancock was to press southward, at considerable distance on his left, making for Shady Grove church; while Sheridan's cavalry swept still farther south-west, making a reconnoissance in force. But these movements were met in their inception by an unlooked-for advance of the Rebel
'Thursday, May 5.