the consummate skill which have placed the defeated commander on the roll of great captains.
On May 4, 1864, Grant
crossed the Rapidan
at the head of about 125,000 men ‘present for duty,’ according to the official reports as analyzed by General Humphreys
. Secretary Stanton
makes General Grant
's effective force to have been over 141,000 men, but General Humphreys
shows that this included the ‘extra duty’ men and those under arrest.
These amounted to over 16,000 men, and when deducted leave the ‘present for duty’ about 125,000. General Humphreys
reduces this number still farther by taking the ‘present for duty equipped
’ as the basis of his estimates, but as no such heading existed in the Confederate
reports, the number of those ‘present for duty’ is the only one that can be used in comparing the strength of the two armies.
held the upper line of the Rapidan
with a force of 62,000 ‘present for duty.’
makes General Lee
's force nearly 64,000.)
's purpose was to push rapidly through the tangled, wooded wilderness which covered Lee
's right flank, and force him to fight in the more open country to the south of it by threatening his communications with Richmond
anticipated his adversary, and leaving his cantonments on the Rapidan
, hastened to strike the Federal
army while on the march.
The 5th and 6th of May were marked by bloody battles in the dense, wooded wilderness, and sometimes miry thickets of this region.
Each side was by turn the assailant, but the advantage, especially on the second day, was decidedly with the Confederates
The difficulty of manoeuvring large bodies of men in such a country was immense, and the Federals
did not succeed in obtaining the advantage due to their superiority of numbers.
The rapidity of Lee
's movements and the vigor of his blows disconcerted and staggered his antagonist, and caused the losses inflicted on the Federal
army to be altogether out of proportion to those suffered by the Confederates
foots up the Federal
losses in the Wilderness
This number is probably too small, as it apparently includes only the wounded that had to be sent back to Washington
If the number of wounded be taken from the Federal
regimental reports, the total loss appears to have been about 17,000 men. There are no full reports of the Confederate
On May 7th the Federal
army again moved on Lee
's flank, with the intention of seizing Spotsylvania Courthouse; but here again Grant
promptly divined his purpose, and Stuart