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[455] his career, he simply said to Sheridan: ‘I feel now like ending the matter. Let us see what can be done with the enemy.’

During the night of the 29th, the rain fell in torrents, and before morning it became impossible to move anything on wheels, except as corduroy roads were laid. The country was covered with forests and full of swampy streams; the soil was either clay or sand, and, when these were mixed, the result was a treacherous quicksand. The frosts of winter were just disappearing, and men and animals found little support in the soft and shifting mass. The movement of troops was thus rendered nearly impracticable. At this juncture, some of those nearest to Grant strove hard to induce him to order the army to return. Grant listened, but remained of the opinion that his only course, in spite of rain and roads and opposition, was to continue the movement to the end. It was suggested that Johnston might march up from the south and attack the rear of the army. ‘I wish he would,’ said Grant; ‘I would turn around and dispose of him, and then be freer to attack Lee.’ Meade was not sanguine, and said little; but others strongly urged a retrograde movement. It is easy, however, to advise the most momentous course when a man has not to bear the responsibility which he expects another to assume; and those who are readiest to urge or recommend are often the first to shrink from action or its consequence themselves.

This morning all was gloomy and uncomfortable. The pouring rain, the struggling beasts that sank to their bellies in the quicksand in front of Grant's Headquarters, the necessary inaction of the army, all

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