Zzzvalley Campaign of 1864.
Thus have I given you some of the salient points in the military history of General Early
, but I am not unmindful of your request that I should discuss his Valley Campaign of 1864.
You may have been under the impression that I participated with him in it, but such was not my good fortune.
I became the Adjutant-General
and chief of staff of Early
's Division a few weeks before the battle of Chancellorsville
, in 1863, and was with him until May 6, 1864, when I was wounded and disabled in the second day's conflict in the Wilderness
I cannot, therefore, speak of the Valley
Campaign from personal experience, for, while I followed my old commander and comrades through their heroic struggles with unfaltering interest, I could only toss on a sick bed while the sound of distant guns was borne upon the breeze, and grieve over my inability to be with them.
Conscious that I do not possess the ability to do justice to him or them, I am also conscious that I owe the honor of the invitation given me to my association with them, and to no source could I
trace your partiality with greater satisfaction.
I will now attempt to give you the outlines of that campaign, for more than that is impossible during this brief hour.
Campaign of 1864 had its beginning yonder at Cold Harbor, in sight of the spires of Richmond
From May 5th to June 3d, Grant
, with 138,000 men, and Lee
, with 52,000, had wrestled with each other from the Rapidan
to the Chickahominy
had telegraphed to Washington
, May 11, that he ‘would fight it out on that line if it took all summer.’
On May 12th, ‘that the enemy seems to have found the last ditch,’ and on May 26th, that ‘Lee
is really whipped.’
But now June 3d had dawned, and as he hurled his masses, six miles long, upon Lee
in general assault, another tale was told.
Thirteen thousand men were sacrificed in vain, while Lee
's loss was comparatively trivial.
The bloodiest repulse with so small a loss that had occurred during the war had taken place, and when another assault was ordered, the remarkable spectacle was presented by the Army of the Potomac standing silent, sullen and immobile in ‘emphatic protest against further slaughter.’
in his memoirs regrets that he ever made the assault, for in it he found the last ditch of the overland campaign, and on June 12th, he commenced withdrawing from Lee
's front to the James
Four days later his entire army had passed over, the siege of Petersburg
had begun, 59,000 of his troops, at a cost of 18,000 to Lee
, had been wasted to put him where he might have gone without a battle.