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[555] hour as was expected, and daylight found us with the plan only half executed. At daylight, all the commanding forts in the rear, which we had failed to capture, opened upon Fort Steadman and that portion of the enemy's lines held by our troops. Reenforcements were rapidly brought up, so that it became too hazardous, as General Lee thought, to go forward or attempt it. So he ordered me back (I may say here that I entirely approved of this decision of General Lee). Up to this hour we had lost but few men, and these had been killed or wounded mainly by artillery. But now the enemy's infantry came up and made several assaults. They were repulsed by our troops in Fort Steadman and in the enemy's works on its flanks. It was in the effort to withdraw the troops that our principal loss occurred. A raking fire was kept up across the intervening space over which we had moved in capturing the fort. I was wounded in recrossing to Colquitt's Salient, and many of our men were killed and wounded in making the same passage back to our works.

As I said at the outset, this attack was regarded by both General Lee and myself as very hazardous; but it seemed necessary to do more than sit quietly waiting for General Grant to move upon our right, while each day was diminishing our strength by disease and death.

Let me also add that the movement made at Hare's Hill must have proved a great success but for the unforeseen and unavoidable miscarriages to which I have referred.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Immediately following, and perhaps in consequence of this sortie, an extensive attack was made upon our lines to the left of Fort Steadman, but without any decisive results. On March 27th the main part of Grant's forces confronting Richmond were moved over to the lines before Petersburg, and his left was on the same day joined by Sheridan's division of cavalry. It will be remembered that Lee had sent Longstreet to the north side of the James as soon as he discovered that Grant had sent a corps across with the supposed purpose of attacking Richmond from that side. It was intended that Longstreet should return whenever the enemy withdrew his main force from the north side of the James; it appears, however, that this was so secretly done as to conceal the fact from General Longstreet, and that both Hancock and Ord had joined Grant, to swell his forces by two corps before our troops returned to join Lee. Grant, thus strengthened, made a more determined movement to gain the right of Lee's position; before he was ready to make his assault, however, Lee marched with a comparatively very small force, took the initiative, and on the 31st struck the enemy's advance and repulsed him in great confusion, following until confronted by the heavy masses formed in open ground in the rear, when Lee withdrew his men back to their entrenchments.

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