At the date when this report begins, the situation of the contending forces was about as follows: The Mississippi river was strongly garrisoned by Federal troops from St. Louis, Missouri, to its mouth. The line of the Arkansas was also held, thus giving us armed possession of all west of the Mississippi, north of that stream. A few points in Southern Louisiana, not remote from the river, were held by us, together with a small garrison at and near the mouth of the Rio Grande. All the balance of the vast territory of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, was in the almost undisputed possession of the enemy, with an army of probably not less than eighty thousand effective men, that could have been brought into the field had there been sufficient opposition to have brought them out. The let-alone policy had demoralized this force so much that probably little more than one half of it was ever present in garrison at any one time. But the one half, or forty thousand men, with the bands of guerrillas scattered through Missouri, Arkansas, and along the Mississippi river, and the disloyal character of much of the population, compelled the use of a large number of troops to keep navigation open on the river, and to protect the loyal people to the west of it. To the east of the Mississippi, we held substantially with the line of the Tennessee and Holston rivers, running eastward, to include nearly all the State of Tennessee. South of Chattanooga, a small foothold had been obtained in Georgia, sufficient to protect East Tennessee from incursions from the enemy's force at Dalton, Georgia. West Virginia was substantially within our lines. Virginia, with the exception of the northern border, the Potomac river, a small area about the mouth of James river, covered by the troops at Norfolk and Fort Monroe, and the territory covered by the Army of the Potomac, lying along the Rapidan, was in the possession of the enemy. Along the sea-coast, footholds had been obtained at Plymouth, Washington, and Newbern, in North Carolina; Beaufort, Folly, and Morris Islands, Hilton Head, Fort Pulaski, and Port Royal, in South Carolina; Fernandina and St. Augustine, in Florida. Key West and Pensacola were also in our possession, while all the important ports were blockaded by the navy. The accompanying map, a copy of which was sent to General Sherman. and other commanders, in March, 1864, shows, by red lines the territory occupied by us at the beginning of the rebellion, and at the opening of the campaign of 1864; while those in blue are the lines which it was proposed to occupy. Behind the Union lines there were many bands of guerrillas, and a large population disloyal to the Government, making it necessary to guard every foot of road or river used in supplying our armies. In the South, a reign of military despotism prevailed, which made every man and boy capable of bearing arms a soldier; and those who could not bear arms in the field, acted as provosts for collecting deserters and returning them. This enabled the enemy to bring almost his entire strength into the field. The enemy had concentrated the bulk of his forces east of the Mississippi into two armies, commanded by Generals R. E. Lee and J. E. Johnston, his ablest and best generals. The army commanded by Lee occupied the south bank of the Rapidan, extending from Mine Run westward, strongly intrenched, covering and defending Richmond, the rebel capital, against the Army of the Potomac. The army under Johnston occupied a strongly-intrenched position at Dalton, Georgia, covering and defending Atlanta, Georgia, a place of great importance as a railroad centre, against the armies under Major-General W. T. Sherman. In addition to these armies, he had a large cavalry force under Forrest, in North-east Mississippi; a considerable force, of all arms, in the Shenandoah Valley, and in the western part of Virginia, and extreme eastern part of Tennessee; and also confronting our sea-coast garrisons, and holding blockaded ports where we had no foothold upon land. These two armiss, and the cities covered and defended by them, were the main objective points of the campaign. Major-General W. T. Sherman, who was appointed to the command of the Muitary Division of the Mississippi, embracing all the armies and territory east of the Mississippi river to the Alleghanies, and the Department of Arkansas, west of the Mississippi, had the immediate command of the armies operating against Johnston. Major-General George G. Meade had the immediate command of the Army of the Potomac, from where I exercised general supervision of the movements of all our armies. General Shermau was instructed to move against Johnston's army, to break it up, and to go into the interior of the enemy's country as far as he could, inflicting all the damage he could upon their war resources. If the enemy in his front showed signs of joining Lee, to follow him up to the full extent of his ability, while I would prevent the concentration of Lee upon him if it was in the power of the Army of the Potomac to do so. More specific written instructions were not given, for the reason that I had talked over with him the plans of the campaign, and was satisfied that he understood them and would execute them to the fullest extent possible. Major-General N. P. Banks, then on an expedition up Red river against Shreveport, Louisiana, (which had been organized previous to my appointment to command), was notified by me on the fifteenth of March of the importance it was that Shreveport should be taken at the earliest possible day, and that if he found that the taking of it would occupy from ten to fifteen days more time than General Sherman had given his troops to be absent from their command he would send them back at the time specified by General Sherman, even if it led to the abandonment
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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