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[575] line to Amelia Courthouse, which was the point of concentration of his columns on the Danville railroad. The direct route to that place is by what is known as the Cox road, which leaves Petersburg above the Boydton plankroad and runs due west, following the line of the Appomattox. But by the gradual extension of the left of the Army of the Potomac towards the Boydton plankroad, the flank of the Union line approached so near the Cox road as to make Lee's withdrawal thereby a very perilous operation. He resolved, therefore, to strike a sudden blow, and to give this blow such a direction that it would be necessary for Grant to withdraw his left, which would completely relieve Lee's proposed line of retreat. This object he supposed would be best realized by striking the contrary flank from that on which he wished the effect to be produced. Accordingly, he planned to break through the right of the Union line hard by where that flank rested on the Appomattox east of Petersburg. Special considerations of a topographical character indicated Fort Steadman as the most advantageous point of attack.

The project of assaulting the Union front at all was bold. The Army of the Potomac lay ensconced in its lines of coptravallation. A cordon of redoubts of a powerful profile and armed with the heaviest metal, studded this line. Infantry parapets, amply manned, stretched from work to work. Covering the fronts of approach were labyrinthine acres of abatis, while all the appliances of ditches, entanglements, and chevaux de frise lent their aid to make defence sure and assault folly. But plans in war are sometimes successful on account of their very boldness; and Lee's purpose was to seize Fort Steadman and the neighboring works, crown the commanding ground in rear of this part of the Federal line and lay hold of the military railway to City Point. If Grant turned to fight him in this position, he was prepared to receive battle, but if Grant should make a detour towards City Point to recover his communications, the Confederate commander designed, instead of awaiting attack, to withdraw immediately. In any event, Lee counted that the blow struck at Grant's

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