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[181] around upon a new base, and was at City Point on the James river threatening Petersburg and Richmond, then defended by the Army of Northern Virginia under the incomparable Lee. That army during the preceding year had covered itself with imperishable glory in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Courthouse and at Cold Harbor. Numbering less than sixty thousand men, it had inflicted a loss of more than fifty thousand upon the enemy in the campaign, resulting in Grant's change of base. But with inadequate supplies of food and clothing, it was then suffering all the discomforts and hardships of winter in the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond. Sheridan in the Valley of Virginia with a powerful and well-equipped army, had driven back Early with his little band of Confederates, and had completely devasted that beautiful and fertile region. Sherman, after destroying Atlanta and laying waste the surrounding country, was at Savannah with an army of sixty-five thousand men, prepared to march through the Carolinas and form a junction with Grant in Virginia. Such was the military situation when in the early part of January, 1865, Mr. Francis P. Blair, Sr., a gentleman of great ability and acknowledged influence with the Administration at Washington, made his appearance at Richmond. He brought with him no credentials, but exhibited to Mr. Davis the following card:

December 28, 1864.
Allow the bearer, F. P. Blair, Sr., to pass our lines, go South and return.


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