the interposition of the whole [rebel] army between you and your supports need cause you no alarm.’1
But although thus inciting Butler
, and anxious to take advantage of any success which that commander might attain, the general-in-chief
at this time hardly hoped for the capture of Richmond
, and carefully prepared for the alternative.
The pith of Butler
's instructions was in the words ‘If the enemy resists you by sufficient force to prevent your advance, it is confidently expected that General Meade
can gain a decisive advantage at his end of the line.
The prize sought is either Richmond
, or Petersburg
, or a position which will secure the fall of the latter.’
With Meade Grant
was still more explicit: ‘Although the troops will be instructed to push directly for Richmond
, if successful in breaking through the outer line of rebel works, it is hardly expected that so much can be accomplished. . . . Have the army of the Potomac under arms at four o'clock, A. M., on the 29th, ready to move in any direction. . . Should the enemy draw off such a force as to justify in moving either for the Southside
road or Petersburg
, I want you to do it without instructions, and in your own way. One thing, however, I would say: if the [rail] road is reached, or a position commanding it, it should be held at all hazards.’