A full survey of all the ground satisfies me that it would not be practicable to hold a line northeast of Richmond that would protect the Fredericksburg railroad to enable us to use it for supplying the army. . . . My idea, from the start, has been to beat Lee's army, if possible, north of Richmond, 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. I now find, after more than thirty days of trial, that the enemy deems it of the first importance to run no risks with the armies which they now have. They act purely on the defensive, behind breastworks, or feebly on the offensive, immediately in front of them, and where, in case of repulse, they can instantly retire behind them. Without a greater sacrifice of human life than I am willing to make, all cannot be accomplished that I had designed outside of the city. I have therefore resolved upon the following plan: I will continue to hold, substantially, the ground now occupied by the army of the Potomac, taking advantage of any favorable circumstance that may present itself, until the cavalry can be sent west to destroy the Virginia Central railroad, from about Beaver Dam, for some 25 or 30 miles west. When this is effected, I will move the army to the south side of James river, either by crossing the Chickahominy and marching near to City Point, or by going to the mouth of the Chickahominy on the north side and crossing there. To provide for this last, and most probable contingency, six or more ferryboats, of the largest size, ought to be immediately provided. Once on the south side of James river, I can cut off all sources of supply to the enemy, except what is furnished by the canal. If Hunter succeeds in reaching Lynchburg, that will be lost to him also. Should Hunter not succeed, I will still make the effort to destroy the canal by sending cavalry up the south side of the river with a pontoon train to cross wherever they can. The feeling of the two armies now seems to be that the rebels can protect themselves only by strong intrenchments, while our army is not only confident of protecting itself without intrenchments, but that it can beat and drive the enemy whenever and wherever he can be found without this protection.The preceding was Grant's last dispatch from north of the James. Notwithstanding Grant's assertion that his army was ‘confident of protecting itself without intrenchments,’ he had been making intrenchments of the strongest character, during his whole campaign, whenever he had halted, or wherever he had taken position after crossing the Rapidan, as the writer personally knows from having sketched them, from the Rapidan to the Chickahominy, immediately after they were evacuated. Dana reported on July 3d: ‘The working parties of each of those three corps (Hancock's, Wright's and ’
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.