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[458] of the mine and the tremendous momentum of the assaulting columns, ended in complete and disastrous defeat to the Federal arms. This chapter is the most graphic in General Humphrey's book.

The heavy losses and fruitless struggles of the Federal army told severely upon its morale at this time. For more than two months after crossing to the south side of the James it was everywhere outgeneraled and defeated. Fearful were its losses in battle, and severe its sufferings from the climate; but the resources of the North were poured out without stint for its relief, and Grant was able, by a great preponderance of force, to keep his adversary on the defensive.

After another period of comparative rest, Grant renewed his operations against both of Lee's flanks, his numbers enabling him to compel the Confederates to stretch their thin lines in both directions. The Federals thus seized the Weldon railroad in August, and Fort Harrison, on the north side, at the end of September, but all other efforts against Lee's lines during the autumn proved costly and abortive. The winter, however, brought worse enemies to the Confederates than even the splendid army in their front. The signs of exhaustion were everywhere evident in the South. A succession of disasters had given Georgia and South Carolina to Sherman, and Tennessee to Thomas. Sheridan had ruthlessly harried the Shenandoah Valley. For months Lee's men, in the trenches at Petersburg, were but half fed and half clothed, while every letter that came to the camp told of suffering and starvation at home.

The spring came, to find Lee holding thirty-five miles of entrenchments with 57,000 men of all arms (according to General Humphreys), while Grant had 129,000 in his front. Lee's strength was steadily weakening; desertions were numerous; the privations of the winter had broken the spirit of the Confederates. Lee's last effort against Fort Steadman, on March 25th, made to cover his withdrawal from Petersburg, failed, and cost him heavily. Grant moved against Lee's right flank and communications as soon as the roads permitted. Then followed the overthrow of Pickett and Fitz Lee at Five Forks, on April 1st. This Federal victory, and the loss it entailed on Lee, insured his defeat.

General Humphreys thinks the battle at Five Forks a serious mistake; but Lee had good reason to expect success. Forces not greater than those under Pickett had, more than once during the past year, won victory in the face of difficulties not less than those which confronted the Confederates at Five Forks. The blow was fatal to Lee. Next day his thin lines were no longer able to resist

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