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[131] inflexibly to a preconcerted plan must be assured exactly of what his antagonist will do. Grant's method of warfare, however, has been already seen. Instead of adhering rigidly to a preconceived scheme, and being thrown all aback when any detail failed,— he was always ready to change his plans according to the circumstances of the hour, so that while nothing was accidental, much that was done was the offspring of the moment. Thus several operations intended to accomplish other results were converted into extensions to the left, and when Hancock or Butler made an unsuccessful advance north of the James, Grant promptly seized the opportunity to continue the general movement towards the Southside road.

It has sometimes been said that the national army should have marched around Richmond and thus avoided entrenched lines altogether; but in the fourth year of the war Lee's army was able to entrench itself strongly on any line in a single night. Grant found this out on the 16th of June. He knew that there were surer and speedier results to be obtained by working around Lee's roads, and at the same time supplying himself from his own water base, than by abandoning his communications and hazarding battles on Lee's selected position west of Richmond, where the enemy was certain to be found as strongly entrenched as ever. The rebels, too, could take many risks; their condition was so desperate that no disaster could make it much worse; but there were strong political reasons at this time why the army of the Potomac should not lose its connection with a secure base, and run the risk of any great disaster in the field,

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