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[457]

This ended the campaign against Richmond from the north side of the James, and ten days later the Federal army was on its march to try the approach by way of Petersburg and the Appomattox, where Butler had for some time been ‘bottled up’ by Beauregard. The losses in battle of Grant's army had by this time reached nearly 50,000 men, according to General Humphreys (other Federal accounts make it much larger), and the reinforcements sent him about 28,000. Lee, on the other hand, had received about 15,000 men, which seems to have covered the bulk of his losses. This was a period of great depression in the Federal councils. President Lincoln is said to have been more discouraged and despondent at this time than at any other during the war The Federal Cabinet is said to have seriously considered the question of entertaining proposals for peace. An ordinary commander, in General Grant's place, would have hesitated about continuing this costly and apparently fruitless mode of warfare on the south side of the James. Grant did not. He knew that Lee had been forced to detach Breckinridge and Early to drive Hunter away from Lynchburg. It was easy to maintain the Federal superiority in numbers, and General Grant transferred his army to the Appomattox and attempted to seize Petersburg. A failure and the loss of 8,000 men were the result. A series of attempts against the railroads from the south of Richmond followed, which were completely foiled by Lee, and with heavy cost to the Federals. By the 30th of June the Federal losses in battle had risen to over 68,000, according to General Humphreys (p. 242), or to 75,000 by other authorities. These losses and the detachment of the Sixth Corps to Washington, made necessary by Early's advance on that city, rendered Grant for a time less aggressive. Great preparations were now made for the springing of a mine on the centre of Lee's Petersburg lines. A vigorous demonstration on the north side of the James called off a large part of Lee's forces, and on the morning of July 30, when but three Confederate divisions were at Petersburg, the mine was sprung. The explosion of 8,000 pounds of powder buried a regiment of Confederates and made a fearful gap in their lines. An assault was at once made by Burnside's corps, supported by Hancock, Warren, and Ord. Some preparations had been made by General Beauregard against such a contingency, but only skill of the highest order, and a courage that counted life as nothing worth on the part of the handful of Confederates within reach, enabled them to resist the immense force sent against them. The assault was badly managed, and, notwithstanding the success

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