its immense stores of every warlike material, or compel that division and dispersion of our forces whereof McClellan
had so persistently, and with some justice, complained.
Lee at Richmond
, with the country northward to the Potomac
thoroughly exhausted and devastated, could not reach Washington
at all without abandoning Richmond
to its fate; and corps after corps of our army could be transferred to the Potomac
in less than half the time required for a march of the Rebel
forces to Centerville
Of course, Grant
set out expecting to defeat Lee
decisively between the Rapidan
and the Chickahominy
, and was disappointed; but it is difficult to see how he could have evaded obstacles at least as serious as those he encountered.
As he pertinently observed, the Rebel
army was his true objective; and this must be encountered, whichever route he might take.
Had he attempted, as Lee
evidently anticipated, to advance by Gordonsville
or Louisa C. H., flanking Lee
's left instead of his right, he would have been starved into a retreat before he came in sight of the James
, at the head of sloop navigation on the Appomattox
, 22 miles south of Richmond
, is the focus of all the railroads but the Danville
which connected the Confederate
capital with the South and South-west.
taken and firmly held by our forces, the stay of the Rebel Government
and Army at Richmond
must be of short duration.
But merely to take it, without the ability to hold it against the force which Lee
, near at hand, could easily send against it, would be worse than useless.
The moment it was decided that Meade
's army must cross the James
and threaten that city from the south, Grant
hastened to Butler
's headquarters to impel against Petersburg
whatever force might there be disposable, so soon as it should be certain that that attempt could be seasonably supported by the legions of Meade
, after the dispatch of the best part of his force, under W. F. Smith
, to Meade
, had been inclined to keep quiet within his intrenchments; but that was not permitted.
His northern outpost at Wilson
's wharf, north of the James
, held by Gen. Wild
with two Black regiments, had already been summoned and charged1
by Fitz-Hugh Lee
's cavalry, who, after a fight of some hours, were beaten off with loss: and now Gen. Gillmore
, with 3,500 men, was thrown across2
, to approach Petersburg
by the turnpike on the north, while Gen. Kautz
, with 1,500 cavalry, should charge into it from the south or south-west.
Two gunboats and a battery were simultaneously to bombard Fort Clinton
, defending the approach up the river.
The combination failed, though it should have succeeded.
unresisted to within two miles of the city, where he drove in the enemy's skirmishers and halted — or rather, recoiled — deeming his force altogether too weak for the task before him, and understanding that he was free to exercise his discretion in the premises.
, on the other hand, made his way not only up to but into the city — the Confederates
' attention having been concentrated on Gillmore
— but, now that they