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[330] enough for the defence of Richmond. It was well understood, by both Generals Butler and Meade, before starting on the campaign, that it was my intention to put both their armies south of the James river, in case of failure to destroy Lee without it.

Before giving General Butler his instructions, I visited him at Fort Monroe, and in conversation pointed out the apparent importance of getting possession of Petersburg and destroying railroad communication as far south as possible. Believing, however, in the practicability of capturing Richmond unless it was reinforced, I made that the objective point of his operations. As the Army of the Potomac was to move simultaneously with him, Lee could not detach from his army with safety, and the enemy did not have troops elsewhere to bring to the defence of the city in time to meet a rapid movement from the north of James river.

I may here state that, commanding all the armies as I did, I tried, as far as possible, to leave General Meade in independent command of the Army of the Potomac. My instructions for that army were all through him, and were general in their nature, leaving all the details and the execution to him. The campaigns that followed proved him to be the right man in the right place. His commanding always in the presence of an officer superior to him in rank, has drawn from him much of that public attention that his zeal and ability entitled him to, and which he would otherwise have received.

The movement of the Army of the Potomac commenced early on the morning of the fourth of May, under the immediate direction and orders of Major-General Meade, pursuant to instructions. Before night the whole army was across the Rapidan (the Fifth and Sixth corps crossing at Germania ford, and the Second corps at United States ford, the cavalry, under Major-General Sheridan. moving in advance), with the greater part of its trains, numbering about four thousand wagons, meeting with but slight opposition. The average distance travelled by the troops that day was about twelve miles. This I regarded as a great success, and it removed from my mind the most serious apprehensions I had entertained, that of crossing the river in the face of an active, large, well-appointed, and ably-commanded army, and how so large a train was to be carried through a hostile country and protected. Early on the fifth, the advance corps (the Fifth, Major-General G. K. Warren commanding), met and engaged the enemy outside his intrenchments near Mine Run. The battle raged furiously all day, the whole army being brought into the fight as fast as the corps could be got upon the field, which, considering the density of the forest and narrowness of the roads, was done with commendable promptness.

General Burnside, with the Ninth corps, was, at the time the Army of the Potomac moved, left with the bulk of his corps at the crossing of the Rappahannock river and Alexandria railroad, holding the road back to Bull Run, with instructions not to move until he received notice that a crossing of the Rapidan was secured, but to move promptly as soon as such notice was received. This crossing he was apprised of on the afternoon of the fourth. By six o'clock of the morning of the sixth, he was leading his corps into action near the Wilderness tavern, some of his troops having marched a distance of over thirty miles, crossing both the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. Considering that a large proportion, probably two thirds of his command, was composed of new troops, unaccustomed to marches and carrying the accoutrements of a soldier, this was a remarkable march.

The battle of the Wilderness was renewed by us at five o'clock on the morning of the sixth, and continued with unabated fury until darkness set in, each army holding substantially the same position that they had on the evening of the fifth. After dark, the enemy made a feeble attempt to turn our right flank, capturing several hundred prisoners, and creating considerable confusion. But the promptness of General Sedgwick, who was personally present and commanding that part of our line, soon reformed it and restored order. On the morning of the seventh, reconnoissances showed that the enemy had fallen behind his intrenched lines, with pickets to the front, covering a part of the battle-field. From this it was evident to my mind that the two days fighting had satisfied him of his inability to further maintain the contest in the open field, notwithstanding his advantage of position, and that he would wait an attack behind his works. I therefore determined to push on and put my whole force between him and Richmond; and orders were at once issued for a movement by his right flank. On the night of the seventh the march was commenced toward Spottsylvania Court-house, the Fifth corps moving on the most direct road. But the enemy having become apprised of our movement, and having the shorter line, was enabled to reach there first. On the eighth, General Warren met a force of the enemy, which had been sent out to oppose and delay his advance, to gain time to fortify the line taken up at Spottsylvania. This force was steadily driven back on the main force, within the recently-constructed works, after considerable fighting, resulting in severe loss to both sides. On the morning of the ninth, General Sheridan started on a raid against the enemy's lines of communication with Richmond. The ninth, tenth, and eleventh were spent in manoeuvring and fighting, without decisive results. Among the killed on the ninth was that able and distinguished soldier Major-General John Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth Army Corps. Major-General H. G. Wright succeeded him in command. Early on the morning of the twelfth, a general attack was made on the enemy in position. The Second corps, Major-General Hancock commanding, carried a salient of his line, capturing most of Johnston's division


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