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[188]
the cause was lost, but the end was not yet. The noble Army of Northern Virginia, once, twice conqueror of empire, must bite the dust before its formidable adversary. --Lieutenant-General James Longstreet, C. S. A., in From Manassas to Appomattox.

the disastrous failure of the Union Army on the sanguinary battlefield of Cold Harbor, in June, 1864, destroyed Grant's last chance to turn the Confederate right flank north of Richmond. He could still try to turn Lee's left and invest Richmond from the north, but this would not have interfered with the lines of supply over the James River and the railroads from the South and West. The city could have resisted for an indefinite time. If Richmond were to fall, it must be besieged from the South.

the movement from Cold Harbor began after dark on June 12th, and Meade's whole Army was safely over the James River at Wilcox's Landing by midnight on the 16th of June. The little city of Petersburg is situated twenty-one miles South of Richmond on the Southern bank of the Appomattox, a small stream threading its way through the Virginia tidewater belt, almost parallel with the James, into which it flows. In itself the town was of little value to either Army. But it was the doorway to Richmond from the South. Three railroads from Southern points converged here. To reach the Confederate capital, Petersburg must first be battered down. At this time the town ought not to have been difficult to capture, for its defenses were but weak entrenchments, and they were not formidably manned. General Smith, who reached Bermuda hundred by water, with his corps, on the night of the 14th, was ordered by Butler, under instructions from Grant, to move on Petersburg at daylight.

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