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opposition made to the movement by Lee was ascribed to the want of stout artillery horses necessary for field service. Of the whole movement, a dispatch from head-quarters to the War Department says: “Our forces drew out from within fifty yards of the enemy's intrenchments at Cold Harbor, made a flank movement of about fiftyfive miles march, crossing the Chickahominy and James Rivers, the latter two thousand feet wide and eighty-four feet deep at the point of crossing, and surprised the enemy's rear at Petersburg.”
Grant was now exactly on the opposite side of Richmond from that at which he began his campaign. The Federal gunboats and transports planted Butler at Bermuda Hundred, at the very outset of the campaign, with the express purpose of effecting a diversion on the south of Richmond, while Grant made the main attack from the north. It is obvions, therefore, that while the army maintained the character it had already acquired for indomitable perseverance, Grant only resorted to this maneuvre because his original plan had not fulfilled expectations. He began from this moment, to all intents and purposes, a fresh campaign. Few generals and few troops would have persisted in this dogged and determined struggle.
Advance on Petersburg.-Position of the City.--Assault and Capture of Earthworks
and Guns.--Assault of Saturday, June 18th. ---Repulse.--Aspect of the Campaign.
On the morning of Wednesday, June 15th, the Eighteenth Corps, which arrived at Bermuda Hundred on the evening of the 14th, from Fortress Monroe, started for Petersburg. A pontoon bridge had been thrown across the Appomatox, at Point of Rocks, over which Kautz's Cavalry crossed, followed by Brooks's and Martindale's Infantry Divisions. The skirmishers of the enemy were encountered on the City Point road, along which the advance was made. At Harrison's Creek, the enemy held a line of rifle-trenches with two field-pieces, from which the head of the column suffered a good deal. Brooks's Division coming up, however, they hastily retired behind a temporary line of earthworks, about two miles from Petersburg, leaving their guns in the hands of the Union troops. In front of this new line, the latter were now drawn up in line of battle, Martindale holding the right, Brooks the centre, and Hinks the left. Towards sunset, the line charged with great determination and vigor, in the face of a hot artillery fire, carrying the earthworks with sixteen guns and three hundred prisoners. The Federal loss was about five hundred. After the battle, the Second Corps arrived, too late, however, to render the success decisive, and by the next morning the Ninth Corps was on the ground. Meantime, Kautz had moved to the left and attacked the enemy's works on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, but, finding them too strong, he retired after a smart skirmish. The Federal attack upon Petersburg bad been sustained by the local forces, the main rebel army having not yet arrived. On Thursday morning, the 16th, General Butler conceived the idea of advancing in his front, to intercept the movement of Lee towards Petersburg. He accordingly sent out a portion of the Tenth Corps, which, after destroying a portion of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, was compelled, by the approach of overwhelming forces, to retire within the lines.
The city of Petersburg lies chiefly on the southerly bank of the Appomattox, which thence runs nearly northeast to the James. It was defended by several lines of earthworks, consisting not only of square redoubts, but also of well-established rifle-trenches. It was the outer line of these that had been carried on the 15th, and was now held by Birney's Corps. The abandonment of the north side of the James by Grant had not been fully credited by the enemy, who left a force under A. P. Hill to guard against any sudden movement in that direction. Now, however, Beauregard's men again filled up so rapidly the trenches in front that it was necessary to hurry up Burnside to hold the ground won. That corps at length coming up, after a forced march from Charles City Court-House, a line of battle was immediately formed, Smith on the right, Hancock in the centre, Burnside on the left. The ground in front was rather open, though rugged, with here and there fields of grain. At six A. M. on the 16th, the attack was made. Barlow's Division and Griffin's Brigade, of Potter's Division, made a handsome charge under destructive artillery fire, and succeeded in gaining a foothold in the rifle-pits outside of the stronger works. Here our troops were annoyed by the enemy's fire, and Barlow, in connection with Burnside, determined to try an assault on the main works. But meanwhile the enemy opened so severely on Burnside as to show there was no hope of surprise. The enemy also cut off the skirmish line in Barlow's front, amounting to three hundred men, with their officers. After a three bours' fight, therefore, the assault was suspended till morning. The right had not taken an important part in the contest, and had lost but a few men. Birney's loss was about five hundred, and Potter's, in his gallant charge, not less. The entire loss was probably from fifteen hundred to two thousand. The enemy's loss was probably much less, from their advantage of position.
On Friday the attack was renewed, and some rifle-pits were carried by Burnside's Corps. About nine o'clock on Friday night, the enemy showed himself in force upon Birney's front, but did not advance. À little later, he made a desperate and successful effort to retake from Burnside the works captured during the day. He moved in two columns, one in front, the other in flank. A very sharp fight followed. The enemy succeeded in leaping the works under cover of the darkness, and drove our men out. In the early part of the attack, about two hundred of the enemy were captured by us, and in yielding up the works, a like loss was suffered by us. The enemy's batteries cova od the attack by vigorous shelling.
Early in the morning of this same day, part of Pickett's and Field's Division of the enemy attacked our lines near the James. Foster's Division, of Brooks's Tenth Corps (from which General Gillmore had been relieved), held a line extending across from near Ware Bottom
Church towards the Appomattox. The enemy were posted near Howlett's House, in his front. Our line was pushed back a little.
It was now determined to make a new and more vigorous assault on Saturday morning, the 18th, and the line was formed as follows, from right to left: Martindale's and Hinks's Divisions of the Eighteenth Corps, Wright's Sixth, Hancock's Second (under Birney), Burnside's Ninth, Warren's Fifth. At four o'clock A. M. the assault was to be made. But, upon sending out skirmishers, the enemy was found to have abandoned the works in our immediate front for an inner series of defences. New combinations were necessary, therefore, for the day. These were completed, and by noon a general advance of the three left corps was ordered. In the Second Corps, Gibbon pushed up an assaulting column of three brigades, the first and second of his own (Second) division, and the Second Brigade of Mott's Division. The remainder of the corps threw out double lines of skirmishers to divert the enemy's attention. Gibbon's men moved promptly up to the works to be assaulted, wbich were situated near the Fredericksburg and City Point Railroad. As they came out from their cover, they were met by a murderous fire, which enfiladed their left. They struggled desperately through it, but their ranks were swept by incessant volleys, from which even their veteran soldiers recoiled. The breastworks were approached, but not reached, and our men retired, leaving their dead and wounded on the field.
In the afternoon a second storming party was organized, to commence the attack from General Mott's position. The assaulting column was formed of Mott's Division, with detachments from the other two divisions. A little before five o'clock P. M., Mott moved out his force in two columns, and in gallant style the two leading brigades burst upon the enemy. They were received with a withering fire from concentrated batteries and musketry, and in spite of the most desperate bravery, were forced back, with terrible loss. The charge was worthy of the proverbial gallantry of the corps, but it failed of success, as the previous charge had also failed. The movements on the left by the Ninth and Fifth Corps were equally energetic and equally unsuccessful. The operations of the day, on the whole, did not repay the very serious loss sustained. The lines remained comparatively quiet during the three following days.
The first effect of the transfer of the whole Federal army to the south bank of the James River was, of course, the withdrawal of the Confederate force which had confined Butler to his intrenchments. It became necessary for Grant to capture Petersburg, and he immediately made the attack, while the enemy were yet unprepared. The attack, as we have seen, failed. The enemy, having recovered from immediate apprehension for Petersburg, turned his attention in other directions. He intrenched largely on the west side of the Appomattox, as Grant did on the east side of it. Having again driven Butler inside his lines, he reoccupied his works there, put the railroad into repair, and, from their lines as a base, began to make demonstrations in front, and to raid towards the James. On the night of Sunday, the 19th, he destroyed the wharves at Wilcox and Westover Landings.
Relative Strength of Armies.-Grant Moves against the Railroad Connections of Richmond.-Combat of June 21st.-Repulsed the 23d.—Sheridan's Expedition.-Yovement of Wilson and Kautz on the Danville Road.-Five Hundred Thousand Men called out.-Explosion of the Mine in Front of Petersburg.-Failure of the Assault.
The consolidation of Butler's army with that of the Potomac had not added much to the relative strength of Grant. A similar junction of Beauregard with Lee had been cffected, and the works behind which the enemy was intrenched were strong enough to enable him to hold them with inferior numbers, and, as will presently appear, to detach a force up the valley. On Tuesday, the 21st, Grant commenced operations designed to sever the Southern railroad connections with Petersburg. The road running to Norfolk was in his possession, and it was proposed to occupy and destroy that leading to Weldon. For this purpose, the Second Corps, on Monday night, moved to the left, and on Tuesday marched rapidly forward in a southerly direction, followed by Griffin's Division of the Fifth Corps, with the Sixth Corps in support. At the Jerusalem plankroad the enemy were encountered in force, and a counter-attack sustained. The troops then fell back into position for the night, during which the Sixth Corps came up, and formed on the left of the Second, directly on the left of the Jerusalem plankroad. The attack was to have been made at day break on Wednesday, the 22d, but each corps waited for the other until each got orders to advance at once, independently of the other, each being cautioned to protect his flank in case connection was not made by the other.
No sooner had Barlow struck into the thick woods than he began to open a gap between his left and the right of the Sixth Corps, and accordingly disposed flanking regiments so as to protect himself at the break. Mott, meanwhile, bad moved directly to the position indicated for him, having without difficulty secured it, and had begun to intrench. Gibbon was already in position. Barlow, having moved forward sufficiently, was about to intrench also, when he was suddenly startled by firing on his flank, quickly spreading towards his rear. The enemy, Hill's Corps, advancing to check our movement on the railroad, was swiftly approaching in several solid columns, which followed hard on a dense crowd of skirmishers. At this time, the Sixth Corps was far distant on the left and rear, and a gap occurred in our advancing line, like that between the Fifth and Second Corps in the Wilderness. With more success in the present case than before, the enemy took advantage of the error. One entire division, with Mahone's Brigade in advance, came driving through the interval. Barlow's skirmishers were of course quickly overcome, and, with & quick appreciation of his advantage, and an impetuous rush, sweeping all before it, the enemy's column glanced diagonally between the two corps, struck Barlow's flank with great force, and almost instantane
ously rolled it up, capturing several hundred prisoners. The sudden recoil of Barlow's Division under this most dangerous of all attacks, a movement on the flank and rear, quickly uncovered the left flank of Mott, and exposed him to the same disadvantage. In his turn, Mott fell back also, with the loss of several hundred prisoners, and thus exposed the left of Gibbon. Meanwhile the other troops from Hill's Corps had joined the assault, and, having captured Mott's entire line of intrenchments, now pressed not only in front, but in the rear. His right brigade was able to repel the comparatively trifling assault. But his left brigades were almost encircled by fire. McKnight's four-gun battery of the Twelfth New York Artillery opened, and was briskly and handsomely fought. But the troops in support were driven back, and the enemy had already carried Gibbon's intrenchments. In a word, in the sudden shock and confusion, several whole regiments were swept off and captured, without the chance of any thing like stout resistance. McKnight's Battery was then surrounded and captured entire, though most of the horses and caissons, and some of the men, succeeded in escaping to the rear.
At length Miles's reserve division, with a New Jersey battery, came up, enabling Gibbon's Division to rally on them, and form a new line. The enemy was now to some extent exhausted by his own exertions, but he repulsed an attempt of Birney to recapture the battery. The newly-formed line of the Sixth and Second Corps again advanced, pushing the enemy before it; and, having proceeded a short distance, halted, and passed the night in strengthening its position. The enemy did the same on the east side of the Weldon road. The Federal loss in the attack was large, and included a number of prisoners. During the day, the cavalry of Wilson and Kautz had proceeded to the left, and cut the railroad about ten miles from Petersburg.
On Thursday, the 23d, Wright, finding the enemy weak on the extreme left, sent the Third, Fourth, and Eleventh Vermont regiments to occupy the railroad. They had not reached it, however, before they were enveloped by Anderson's Division, and severely bandled. They lost some prisoners, besides a number killed and wounded. The enemy, flushed with success, pressed our men back to the main body, and then attacked right and left. Our live was withdrawn towards evening to the cover of breastworks, and operations ceased. Skirmishing continued to the close of June without any important operations.
Simultaneously with the transference of his own army from the northern bank of the Chickahominy to the southern bank of the James, Grant sent forth Sheridan, with a considerable cavalry force, to traverse the country between the Rappahannock and Richmond, and pass near Charlottesville, in the direction of Lynchburg, with a view of penetrating the valley, in order to give the hand to General Hunter, who was advancing on that point to close up upon Richmond. Sheridan set out on the 9th of June, and on the 11th reached Trevillian's Station, on the Virginia Central Railroad, where he inflicted a severe defeat upon a large cavalry force in his front. On the succeeding day he thoroughly destroyed the railroad between Trevillian's and Louisa Court-House; and, early on the 13th, the rebels under Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh