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[475]

Lee discovered, at daybreak of the 13th, that Grant had left his front After advancing his skirmishers for nearly two miles, without finding the enemy, he moved his army to conform to Grant's movement, sending Anderson and Hill to the right to cover his front from White Oak swamp to Malvern hill, and Hoke to Peters. burg, to anticipate Grant's next attack. His whole force north of the James, when Grant retreated, was less than 30,000 men. On the 14th, the Federal cavalry came to Malvern hill, to make a demonstration to cover Grant's crossing the James. Gen. W. H. F. Lee easily drove these back, while a brigade of infantry, supporting the cavalry at Smith's store, drove the enemy from that point.

On the 16th of June, Lee sent the divisions of Pickett and Field across the James, and on the 17th these drove Butler from a portion of Beauregard's old line, which he held in front of Bermuda Hundred. A cheerful dispatch from Lee reads: ‘We tried very hard to stop Pickett's men from capturing the breastworks of the enemy, but couldn't do it.’ The spirit of the Confederate army, and of its leader, at this time, could not well have been better expressed.

Satisfied that Grant would make no further attacks north of the James, but would again essay to make one in force on the south and against Petersburg, from the stronghold which he had secured south of the Appomattox to fall back upon in case of disaster, Lee sent the rest of his army across the James, and, on the afternoon of the 18th of June, joined Beauregard, who, from the 15th to the 18th, with some 10,000 men, had beaten back numerous assaults of nearly half of Grant's army, decreasing his numbers by fully 10,000 men during four days. These, added to those lost between the Rapidan and the James, made Grant's aggregate loss up to June 18th, nearly 65,000 men, which had been made good by the addition of 55,000 reinforcements to his ranks.

The armies of the Potomac and the James, and that of Northern Virginia, under their respective generals commanding, now confronted each other, south of the James, and the long and memorable siege of Petersburg began. Grant, after Butler's repulse of the 18th, wrote to Meade, giving the keynote of his future intentions: ‘Now we will rest the men and use the spade for their protection, until a vein can be struck.’

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