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stantly pouring into the Army of the Potomac. The notes of military preparation all over the country indicated the near approach of a most vigorous campaign. Now the Lieutenant-General is on a tour of inspection, then he is closeted with the authorities at Washington, until the close of April, 1864, when all the preliminaries seem to have been settled. Civilians and sutlers are ordered out of the lines and no more passes are granted to applicants for admission. Meantime Lee was not idle. He busied himself in the erection of additional fortifications along the south bank of the Rapidan, in anticipation of the coming contest. General Grant was not disposed to wait on the development of Lee's plans.
He had well digested plans of his own, which he prepared to put into execution, and until the early part of May, 1864, he labored incessantly, concentrating his valiant troops preliminary to the grand onward movement.
THE GRAND CAMPAIGN. With the genial month of May, 1864, opened one of the greatest military campaigns on record. Not only was the Lieutenant-General directing the movements of the Army of the Potomac, but he had taken the reins well in hand, and with the initiation of the new movement upon Richmond, SHERMAN commenced operations in Northern Georgia against JOHNSTON; BANKS had been ordered to protect our gunboats on the Red River ; General STEELE in Arkansas was punishing STERLING PRICE, and BUTLER was safely lodged on the right bank of the James at Bermuda Hundred, thus threatening the rebel Capital from a point where they least expected danger. General GRANT'S combinations were of a magnitude hitherto unknown in war. They extended over a vast territory; from the. Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, thence northward through the Indian territory to the
upper boundary of Missouri, and striking eastward, included Tennessee and all the States in rebellion. To a man of ordinary nerve and ability the prospect was appalling ; but General GRANT was fully equal to the Herculean task. With a mind of wonderful strength, an equanimity which is never disturbed in the most perilous moment, and an ability to comprehend the situation of bis enemy as well as his own, he formed his plans for the spring and summer campaigns, and having forwarded bis orders to his Lieutenants in the different portions of the vast field over which he was master, he advanced on the 3d of May, 1864, to the Rapidan. This river was crossed on the 4th, at two fords, toward the right flank of the enemy, the Union army thus placing itself on a line nearly parallel with the stream, between Orange Court House and Chancellorsville.
The order to march was issued from General MEADE'S headquarters, on the morning of the 3d, and was disseminated through the army by 2 P. M. General GREGG'S cavalry division, accompanied by a portion of the canvas pontoon train, moved in the afternoon toward Richardsville, and were engaged until late at night repairing the roads to Ely's Ford. Soon after midnight that division moved to the ford named, to establish a crossing About midnight the Third Cavalry Division, with another portion of the canvas pontoon train, left for Germania Ford, five or six miles above, there to establish another crossing; both efforts were successful.
The advance of the Second Corps, Major-General HANCOCK, commanding, broke camp at midnight, and moved down the Stevensburg and Richardsville road toward Ely's Ford. The entire Corps were on the march before three o'clock in the morning, in the same direction, and effected a crossing soon after daylight.
The Fifth Corps, under Major-General WARREN, com
menced moving at midnight. The advance, consisting of two divisions of infantry and a portion of the artillery, passed through Stevensburg at midnight, closely followed by the remainder of the Corps—all marching toward Germania Ford.
The Fifth Corps was closely succeeded by the Sixth, under General SEDGWICK, which quitted its camp at four o'clock, A. M. Both the Fifth and Sixth Corps crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford.
General SHERIDAN, commanding the cavalry, encountered STUART's rebel cavalry, and after heavy fighting drove the enemy back on Orange Court House.
General LEE prepared during the night of the fourth for battle on the ensuing day.
BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS. On Thursday, May 5th, 1864, the Fifth and Sixth Corps were early in motion, and at about eight o'clock, A. M., the centre of the Fifth Corps had reached the intersection of the pike and plank road leading from Fredericksburg to Orange Court House, marked on the maps as “ Wilderness." And here it is necessary to pause a moment and say a word as to the topography of the surrounding country.
The word wilderness conveys generally the impression of a deserted waste, and the term, applied to the region in which the great battle was fought, is no misnomer. It is an exceedingly broken table land, irregular in its conformation, and so densely covered with dwarf timber and uudergrowth as to render progress through it very difficult and laborious off of the few roads and paths that penetrate it. This timber was so effectually an ally of the Rebels, for they had taken care to take position near its edge, leaving us an open country at our back, that a whole division drawn up in line of battle might be invisible a few hundred feet off. The knolly character of the
ground, in conjunction with this timber, also prevented us almost entirely from using our artillery, depriving us of our undoubted superiority in that arm. At the Wilderness, is the crossing or intersection of the pike and plank roads from Fredericksburg to Orange Court House, in a general southwest direction. These roads are here reached by the roads from Culpepper and Brandy Station, via Germania Ford ; and at Chancellorsville, four miles and a half eastward of the Wilderness, the pike is crossed exactly at a right angle by the road from Ely's Ford to Spottsylvania Court House.
On Thursday morning, the army lay on the Germania Ford road and the pike. The army was in column; the trains of the various headquarters were drawn up by the roadside, and men, teamsters and subordinate officers were expecting the order to move on and wondering why it did not come.
The Second Corps was beyond the Wilderness at this moment, and thus occupying our left; the Fifth and Sixth Corps occupying our centre and right respectively. The morning wore slowly away, and still our splendid legions lay in the road whiling the time away by the various devices that only idle men can invent. At last the headquarters' standard of the Army of the Potomac was struck into the earth near the old Wilderness Tavern, and the Generals began gathering around it. MEADE was there, his grey beard seeming to bristle a little in expectation of the coming fight. HANCOCK, WARREN, SEDGWICK, and various other general officers, gathered into little knots and engaged in earnest consultation. Maps were drawn out and being spread upon the ground, and lines were traced and points indicated. It looked ominous. Still, not a single sign of battle reached the main body of the army. No rumors of cavalry engagements nor sound of desultory shots gave it warning,
and it lay in the sunshine expecting the preliminary command and the sonorous “ Forward !"
At last WARREN galloped off, and the head of his column began filing over the point of a hill a little to the left of Wilderness Tavern, and to the summit of the same hill the headquarters of the army were removed. In an incredibly short space of time, an army on the march was changed into an army in line of battle. At about this time, dropping shot were heard to the right and south of Wilderness Tavern, and a gallop of two miles and a half down the pike, in the direction of Orange Court House, revealed a brigade of GRIFFIN's Division in line of battle, far to the front. Gradually the contest grew from picketfiring to skirmish, from skirmish to battle, and by twelve o'clock, meridian, the action fairly commenced. A small disaster marked its opening. The brigade had scarcely formed for action, when it was met by a terrible yolley of musketry, and the Rebels, taking advantage of the momentary confusion, came rushing up to the charge. We had not yet learned the character of the ground thoroughly, and were attempting to use artillery, having two guns of Battery D, First New York, in position, and these the Rebels captured, but they were all the trophies in that line they secured during the entire action.
From WARREN's lines the battle spread to SEDGWICK'S early in the afternoon, and that veteran and accomplished soldier met it grandly. Steadily and firmly he met the Rebel attack, and finally, and almost inch by inch, be pressed the Rebels back from his front until they began to tire of the sport-and, earlier in the day than on other points of the lines, the action dwindled into a skirmish.
On our left, HANCOCK took the initiative, and gave LONGSTREET a lesson in the art of war that will be long remembered. The conflict on that part of our lines was terrific. It seemed that muskets had become endowed