track, two freight trains, and one locomotive, together with large quantities of commissary and other stores; thence crossing to the South Side road, struck it at Wilson's, Wellsville, and Black and White stations, destroying the road and station-houses; thence he proceeded to City Point, which he reached on the eighteenth. On the eighteenth of April, and prior to the movement of General Butler, the enemy with a land force under General Hoke and an iron-clad ram, attacked Plymouth, N. C., commanded by General H. W. Wessels, and our gunboats there, and after severe fighting, the place was carried by assault and the entire garrison and armament captured. The gunboat Smithfield was sunk and the Miami disabled. The army sent to operate against Richmond having hermetically sealed itself up at Bermuda Hundred, the enemy was enabled to bring the most if not all the reinforcements brought from the South by Beauregard against the Army of the Potomac. In addition to this reinforcement, a very considerable one, probably not less than fifteen thousand men, was obtained by calling in the scattered troops under Breckinridge from the western part of Virginia. The position at Bermuda Hundred was as easy to defend as it was difficult to operate from against the enemy. I determined, therefore, to bring from it all available forces, leaving only enough to secure what had been gained; and accordingly, on the twenty-second, I directed that they be sent forward, under command of Major-General W. F. Smith, to join the Army of the Potomac. On the twenty-fourth of May, the Ninth Army Corps, commanded by Major-General A. E. Burnside, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and from this time forward constituted a portion of Major-General Meade's command. Finding the enemy's position on the North Anna stronger than either of his previous ones, I withdrew on the night of the twenty-sixth to the north bank of the North Anna, and moved, via Hanoverton, to turn the enemy's position by his right. Generals Torbert and Merritt's divisions of cavalry, under Sheridan, and the Sixth corps led the advance; crossed the Pamunkey river at Hanoverton after considerable fighting, and on the twenty-eighth the two divisions of cavalry had a severe but successful engagement with the enemy at Hawes' shop. On the twenty-ninth and thirtieth we advanced, with heavy skirmishing, to the Hanover Court-house and Cold Harbor road, and developed the enemy's position north of the Chickahominy. Late on the evening of the last day the enemy came out and attacked our left, but was repulsed with very considerable loss. An attack was immediately ordered by General Meade along his whole line, which resulted in driving the enemy from a part of his intrenched skirmish line. On the thirty-first General Wilson's division of cavalry destroyed the railroad bridges over the South Anna river, after defeating the enemy's cavalry. General Sheridan, on the same day, reached Cold Harbor, and held it until relieved by the Sixth corps and General Smith's command, who had just arrived, via White House, from General Butler's army. On the first day of June an attack was made at 5 P. M., by the Sixth corps and the troops under General Smith, the other corps being held in readiness to advance on the receipt of orders. This resulted in our carrying and holding the enemy's first line of works in front of the right of the Sixth corps and in front of General Smith. During the attack, the enemy made repeated assaults on each of the corps not engaged in the main attack, but were repulsed with heavy loss in every instance. That night he made several assaults to regain what he had lost in the day, but failed. The second was spent in getting troops into position for an attack on the third, On the third of June we again assaulted the enemy's works, in the hope of driving him from his position. In this attempt our loss was heavy, while that of the enemy, I have reason to believe, was comparatively light. It was the only general attack made from the Rapidan to the James which did not inflict upon the enemy losses to compensate for our own losses. I would not be understood as saying that all previous attacks resulted in victories to our arms, or accomplished as much as I had hoped from them; but they inflicted upon the enemy severe losses, which tended, in the end, to the complete overthrow of the rebellion. From the proximity of the enemy to his defences around Richmond, it was impossible by any flank movement to interpose between him and the city. I was still in a condition to either move by his left flank and invest Richmond from the north side, or continue my move by his right flank to the south side of the James. While the former might have been better as a covering for Washington, yet a full survey of all the ground satisfied me that it would be impracticable to hold a line north and east of Richmond that would protect the Fredericks-burg railroad — a long, vulnerable line, which would exhaust much of our strength to guard, and that would have to be protected to supply the army, and would leave open to the enemy all his lines of communication on the south side of the James. My idea, from the start, had been to beat Lee's army north of Richmond if possible. Then, after destroying his lines of communication north of the James river, to transfer the army to the south side and besiege Lee in Richmond, or follow him south if he should retreat. After the battle of the Wilderness it was evident that the enemy deemed it of the first importance to run no risks with the army he then had. He acted purely on the defensive behind breastworks, or feebly on the offensive immediately in front of them, and where, in case of repulse, he could easily retire behind them. Without a greater sacrifice of life than I was willing to make, all could not be
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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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