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[263] to 2.52--while Congress in a flurry passed a silly “gold bill,” and the New York Herald shrieked out curses against “Rebel sympathizers in Wall street” --as if Wall Street ever sympathized with anything save the Almighty Dollar.

Of the temper of the enemy, I myself do not presume to speak, but there are not lacking indications that General Grant's theory of action, which he summed up in the phrase “to hammer continuously,” had become somewhat modified by experience, and that, at this time, his new evangel of “attrition” found but few zealous disciples in the Army of the Potomac. Lee had lost in the campaign between 15,000 and 16,000 men1--veterans, whose lives, it is true, regarding them simply as soldiers, were precious beyond numerical reckoning. Of the Army of the Potomac, not counting the losses in the Tenth and Eighteenth corps, which had been called up to take part in the battle of Cold Harbor, more than 60,000 men had been put hors du combat, including 3,000 officers — a loss greater by 10,000 than the total force which Lee had carried into the Wilderness.2Had not success elsewhere come to brighten the horizon,” says the historian of that army, “it would have been difficult to have raised new forces to recruit the Army of the Potomac, which, shaken in its structure, its valor quenched in blood, and thousands of its ablest officers killed and wounded, was the Army of the Potomac no more.”

This apparent digression from my theme has seemed to me, comrades, not impertinent, because, as I have said, the temper of this army at that time has been misunderstood by some and misrepresented by others; because the truth in regard to the matter, will alone enable those who come after us to understand how such a handful, ill-appointed and ill-fed, maintained for so long a time against overwhelming odds the fiercest defence of modern times. Nay, more, I believe that when the whole truth shall be told touching this eventful campaign, it will be shown that, at no time during the war, had the valor of this army and the skill of its leader been so near to compelling an honorable peace as in the days immediately succeeding Cold Harbor. Such is the testimony of Federal officers, high in rank, whose courage you admired in war and whose


1 On May 31st, Lee, according to the returns, had 44,247 men. Allowing him 50,000 men at the opening of the campaign, and 9,000 reinforcements at Hanover Courthouse, his loss would be 14,753. To this we must add his loss at Cold Harbor, which was but a few hundreds. Swinton (p. 494) says that “the Army of the Potomac lost at least twenty men to Lee's one” in that battle, and puts Grant's loss at 13,153.

2 Swinton, p. 491.

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