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[190]

the Confederate forces at Petersburg were now commanded by General Beauregard. He had conjectured what Grant's plans might be, and in order to prevent the capture of the town and enable him to hold Butler at Bermuda hundred, he called on Lee for immediate reenforcement. But the latter, not yet convinced that Grant was not moving on Richmond, sent only Hoke's division. On the day after Meade began to move his army toward the James, Lee left the entrenchments at Cold Harbor. Keeping to the right and rear of the Union lines of march, by the morning of the 16th, he had thrown a part of his force to the south side of the James, and, by the evening of the 18th, the last of the regiments had united with those of Beauregard, and the two great opposing armies were once more confronting each other — this time for a final settlement of the issue at arms. The Union army out-numbered that of the Confederates, approximately, two to one.

the contest for Petersburg had already begun. For two days the rapidly gathering armies had been combating with each other. On June 15th, General Smith pushed his way toward the weakly entrenched lines of the city. General Beauregard moved his men to an advanced line of rifle-pits. Here the initial skirmish occurred. The Confederates were driven to the entrenched works of Petersburg, and not until evening was a determined attack made upon them. At this time Hancock, “the superb,” came on the field. Night was falling but a bright moon was shining, and the Confederate redoubts, manned by a little over two thousand men, might have been carried by the Federals. But Hancock, waiving rank, yielded to Smith in command. No further attacks were made and a golden opportunity for the Federals was lost.

by the next morning the Confederate trenches were beginning to fill with Hoke's troops. The Federal attack was not made until afternoon, when the fighting was severe for three hours, and some brigades of the Ninth Corps assisted the Second and Eighteenth. The Confederates were driven back

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