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[132] to which in pitched battle every general is liable— especially as Grant felt assured that he could accomplish his purpose by other means and with less loss of life, even if it took a little longer. The same strategy, even the same daring, appropriate enough in a subordinate commander in a distant theatre, would have been unseasonable and inexpedient in the general-in-chief, at the head of the principal army of the nation, and at a critical moment in the history of the state, when every check was magnified by disloyal opponents into irremediable disaster, and a serious defeat in the field might entail political ruin to the cause for which all his battles were fought.

For, with all his willingness to take risks in certain contingencies, with all his preference for aggressive operations, Grant was no rash or inconsiderate commander. He was able to adapt his strategy to the slow processes of a siege as well as to those imminent crises of battle when fortune hangs upon the decision of a single moment. At times audacious in design or incessant in attack, at others he was cautious, and deliberate, and restrained; and none knew better than he when to remain immovable under negative or apparently unfavorable circumstances. At present he believed the proper course in front of Petersburg to be—to steadily extend the investment towards the Southside road, while annoying and exhausting the enemy by menaces and attacks at various points, preventing the possibility of Lee's detaching in support of either Hood or Early, and himself waiting patiently till the moment should come to strike a blow like those he had dealt earlier in the war.

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Butler Grant (2)
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