This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 in their minute knowledge of the topography of the country, which was nearly terra incognita to the Union commander. The success of the Confederate tactics was wonderful; each movement, saving that to the Weldon Railroad, which was conducted on a different principle, ending in a check, generally accompanied by one or more thousand prisoners. The aggregate of captures made by the enemy in these successive swoops is astonishing. But notwithstanding the many costly proofs received of the fatality attending these unlimited extensions, the type of operation was adhered to with a constancy only accountable on the supposition that the Union commander was enamored of it. These turning movements, though in each foiled as regards their primal object, always resulted in a further prolongation of the intrenched line to the left. It remains to ask, was this extension of front a real gain? The answer will depend on whether it was a front of offence or defence. If of the latter, it cannot be considered a gain, for in the part assigned the Army of the Potomac it was nothing if not offensive. But beyond the Weldon Railroad the extension to the left carried Grant no nearer Lee's line of communications, the Southside Railroad—in fact, rather away from it, for Lee, by thrusting his right southward along the Boydton plankroad, caused the Union intrenched line to run in the contrary direction to that of the Southside Railroad. It may indeed be said that the prolongation of the Union line caused Lee to extend also, which was, pari passu, to weaken himself. But it is doubtful whether the advantage in this process was to the Union side. Lee always took the risk of holding his works with a force greatly inferior to that his antagonist was willing to employ: so that, proportionately, Grant could cut loose no heavier a turning column than with much shorter lines. In the object General Grant had in view, which was the capture of Petersburg, there would appear to be, theoretically, two modes in which this might have been accomplished. The first is by a system of regular approaches from the points most favorable. These were the site of Fort Sedgwick, and
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.