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[456]
The very heavy rains of the last forty-eight hours have made it impossible to move trains of artillery. Two corps were moved, last night, from our right to the left, with orders to attack at 4 a. m., but owing to the difficulties of the roads, have not fully got into position. This with the continued bad weather, may prevent offensive operations today.

The next morning he again telegraphed:

The very heavy rains of the last three days have rendered the roads so impassable that little will be done until there is a change in the weather, unless the enemy should attack, which they have exhibited but little inclination to do for the last week. I believe it would be better to strengthen the corps here, with all reinforcements coming, than to have them formed into separate commands.

The next morning he dispatched:

We have had five days of almost constant rain without any prospect yet of its clearing up. All offensive operations necessarily cease until we can have twenty-four hours of dry weather. The army is in the best of spirits and feels the greatest confidence in ultimate success. . . . The promptness with which you have forwarded reinforcements will contribute greatly to diminishing our mortality list and insuring a complete victory. You can assure the President and secretary of war, that the elements alone have suspended hostilities, and that it is in no manner due to weakness or exhaustion on our part.

An attack was made by Grant on the morning of May 18th, with his Second and Sixth corps, in another attempt to break Lee's center. Advancing to Lee's new line, which had excluded the great salient, these 12,000 Federals were broken, in retreat, by the heavy fire of twenty-nine of Lee's guns, before they came within rifle range. In like manner Burnside's simultaneous attack on Lee's right was similarly repulsed. Grant could find no weak point for breaking through, so he drew back, farther to his left, and sought for a third road to Richmond. On the next day, the 19th, Lee sent Ewell around Grant's right, to ascertain what he was doing. In this movement Ewell was repulsed, with a loss of 900 men, but he had detained Grant another day in front of Spottsylvania Court House and inflicted a severer loss that he himself suffered, as Grant confessed.

On the afternoon of May 19th, Grant wrote: ‘I shall make a flank movement early in the morning, and try to reach Bowling Green and Milford station,’ and wished his base, in that event, changed to Port Royal. At 10 p. m., of the same day, he again wrote: ‘The enemy came out on our right, late this afternoon, and attacked, but were driven back until some time since dark. Not knowing ’

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