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[162]

Chapter 14: from Cold Harbor to Petersburg


It is generally conceded that General Grant's purpose in the movement from Cold Harbor was not anticipated by General Lee. All his other movements had been accurately divined so that he was able to get to the position most advantageous to him before the advance of the Union army had reached it in sufficient force to hold it. This movement to the James River seems to have left Lee in perplexity as to where the Army of the Potomac was, and where it was going. The part which the 121st took in it, is of interest to us. The regiment, reduced by deaths, wounds and sickness, now numbered about one hundred men of the healthiest and hardiest of its members. But in the marches that followed these were tested to the utmost. The way was through a low and swampy country, the weather was exceedingly hot, the water was poor, and the roads thick with dust. To the brigade was assigned the duty of protecting the artillery trains. This made us the rear guard of the corps and the march was made with flankers thrown out on both sides to guard against any possible attack from either flank. The march continued steadily till the 15th when the James River was reached at Wilson's Wharf. The brigade formed a line guarding the position on the river until the 17th when it was transferred by boats to Bermuda Hundred. Beckwith says, “Here we saw the first colored troops. Some of us going out after something to eat, found the roads picketed ”

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