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[356] snows of Valley Forge; and the army seemed to live only on its innate, indomitable will, as oftentimes we see some noble mind survive when the physical powers of nature have been exhausted. Like a rock of old ocean, it had received, and broken, and hurled back into the deep in bloody foam those swiftly succeeding waves of four years of incessant battle; but now the rock itself was wearing away, and still the waves came on.

A new enemy was approaching the sturdy devoted band. In September, 1864, Atlanta fell, and through Georgia to the sea, with fire and sword, swept the victorious columns of Sherman. In January, 1865, the head of the column had been turned northward; and in February, Columbia and Charleston shared the fate that had already befallen Savannah. Yes, a new enemy was approaching the Army of Northern Virginia, and this time in the rear. The homes of the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Southern States were now in ashes. Wives, mothers and sisters were wanderers under the wintry skies, flying from the invaders who smote and spared not in their relentless march. Is it wonder that hearts that had never quailed before bayonet or blade beat now with tremulous and irrepressible emotion? Is it wonder that, in the watches of the night, the sentinel in the trenches, tortured to excrutiation with the thought that those dearest of earth to him were without an arm to save, felt his soul sink in anguish and his hope perish? So it was, that with hunger and nakedness as its companions, and foes in front and foes in rear, the Army of Northern Virginia seemed bound to the rock of fate.

On April 1st the left wing of Grant's massive lines swept around the right and rear of Lee. Gallantly did Pickett and his men meet and resist them at Five Forks; but that commanding strategic point was taken, and the fall of Petersburg and of Richmond alike became inevitable. On the next day, April 2d, they were evacuated. Grant was now on a shorter line projected toward Danville than Lee, and the latter commenced at once that memorable retreat towards Lynchburg, which ended at Appomattox.

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