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Chapter 21: the movement against Petersburg

  • The crisis of the War.
  • -- high price of gold. -- difficulty of recruiting in the north. -- Grant crosses the James and moves on Petersburg. -- Hancock's corps delayed. -- movements of Lee. -- Beauregard's defence. -- fighting of June 16 and 18. -- success of Grant's strategy.

It is now time to describe Grant's movement against Petersburg which, I think, more than any battle or other incident, constituted what may be called the Crisis of the War. Possibly the South never had any real chance of success from the first, and the actual crisis was past when she fired the first gun. But, though the North was immensely her superior in all the resources of war, the South was able to win many hard-fought battles, and her armies to cherish the hope, as year after year elapsed, that the desperation of her resistance might exact such a price in blood and treasure as would exhaust the enthusiasm of her adversary. Certainly, at no other period was there such depression among the people at home, in the army, in the field, or among the officials of the government in Washington. The expenses of the war were nearly $4,000,000 a day. Gold was at a high premium and advancing rapidly. It went from 168 in May to 285 in July.

The following table shows the fluctuations for each month of 1864:—

Jan.19159 3/86151 1/2
Feb.1616127157 1/8
March26169 3/41159
April26186 1/44166 1/4
Aug.5261 3/430231 1/2
Sept.2254 1/230191
Oct.31227 3/43189
Dec.724318212 3/4

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