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‘ [444] to allow this to occur without taking advantage of it. The very fact of the enemy coming out to attack, if he does so, might be regarded as almost conclusive evidence of such a weakening of his lines. I would have it particularly enjoined upon corps commanders that, in case of an attack from the enemy, those not attacked are not to wait for orders from the commanding officers of the army to which they belong, but that they will move promptly, and notify the commander of their action. I would also enjoin the same action on the part of division commanders when other parts of their corps are engaged. In like manner, I would urge the importance of following up a repulse of the enemy.’

Grant was thus persisting in the plan he had adopted in June, when he first perceived that a siege of Petersburg was inevitable. He was still stretching out to the left, to complete the extension of his line and the destruction of the last outward avenue of Lee; but he constantly contemplated the possibility that, in the enemy's effort to extend parallel with the national army, the rebel line would be so depleted as to break, and then he meant to take advantage of the opportunity. He had been nearly a year striving to reach the Southside road, and it was nine months since his first attempt to envelop or penetrate the rebel works at Petersburg; but now he had a premonition of success, and made his dispositions and orders with no view of a return. He declared his intention, in case of necessity or opportunity, to separate entirely from his base, and move around to the right and rear of Lee, and thus for ever terminate all communication between him and Johnston's army.

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