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[439] considerable number of guns on Heth's line, opened with tremendous effect upon the column, and it was driven back with severe loss, leaving its dead in front of our works.1

Several days of comparative quiet ensued. During this time the army of General Grant was heavily reenforced from Washington.

In numerical strength his army so much exceeded that under General Lee that, after covering the entire Confederate front with double lines of battle, he had in reserve a large force with which to extend his flank and compel a corresponding movement on the part of his adversary, in order to keep between him and his coveted prizeā€”the capital of the Confederacy.2

On the 18th another assault was made upon our lines, but it produced no impression. On May 20th, after twelve days of skirmish and battle at Spotsylvania against a superior force, General Lee's information led him to believe that the enemy was about to attempt another flanking movement, and interpose his army between the Confederate capital and its defenders. To defeat this purpose Longstreet was ordered to move at midnight in the direction of Hanover Junction, and on the following day and night Ewell's and Hill's corps marched for the same point.

The Confederate commander, divining that Grant's objective point was the intersection of the two railroads leading to Richmond at a point two miles south of the North Anna River, crossed his army over that stream and took up a line of battle which frustrated the movement.

Grant began his flanking movement on the night of the 20th, marching in two columns: the right, under General Warren, crossing the North Anna at Jericho Ford without opposition; the left, on the 23d, under General Hancock, crossing four miles lower down, at the Chesterfield or County Bridge, where it was obstinately resisted by a small force, and the passage of the river not made until the 24th. After crossing the North Anna, Grant discovered that his movement was a blunder and that his army was in a position of much peril.

The Confederate commander established his line of battle on the south side of the river, both wings refused so as to form an obtuse angle with the apex resting on the river between the two points of the enemy's crossing, Longstreet's and Hill's corps forming the two sides, and Little River and the Hanover marshes the base. Ewell's corps held the apex or center.

The hazard of Grant's position appears not to have been known to him until he attempted to unite his two columns, which were four miles apart, by establishing a connecting line along the river. Foiled in the

1 Memoir of the Last Year, etc., by General Early.

2 Four Years with General Lee.

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