Report of Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, U. S. Army, commanding armies of the United States, of operations march, 1864-May, 1865.
United States from the date of my appointment to command the same: From an early period in the rebellion I had been impressed with the idea that active and continuous operations of all the troops that could be brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary to a speedy termination of the war. The resources of the enemy and his numerical strength were far inferior to ours, but as an offset to this we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the Government, to garrison, and long lines of river and railroad communications to protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies. The armies in the East and West acted independently and without concert, like a balky team, no two ever pulling together, enabling the enemy to use to great advantage his interior lines of communication for transporting troops from east to west, re-enforcing the army most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of producing for the support of their armies. It was a question whether our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.  From the first I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both North and South, until the military power of the rebellion was entirely broken. I therefore determined, first, to use the greatest number of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy, preventing him from using the same force at different seasons against first one and then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance; second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources until, by mere attrition, if in no other way, there'should be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the conscitition and laws of the land. These views have been kept constantly in mind, and orders given and campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country. At the date when this report begins the situation of the contending forces was about as follows : The Mississippi River was strongly garrisoned by Federal troops from Saint Louis, Mo., to its mouth. The line of the Arkansas was also held, thus giving us armed possession of all west of the Mississippi north of that stream. A few points in Southern Louisiana, not remote from the river, were held by us, together with a small garrison at and near the mouth of the Rio Grande. All the balance of the vast territory of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas was in the almost undisputed possession of the enemy, with an army of probably not less than 80,000 effective men that could have been brought into the field had there been sufficient opposition to have brought them out. The let-alone policy had demoralized this force, so that probably but little more than one-half of it was ever present in garrison at any one time. But the one-half, or 40,000 men, with the bands of guerrillas scattered through Missouri, Arkansas, and along the Mississippi River, and the disloyal character of much of the population, compelled the use of a large number of troops to keep navigation open on the river and to protect the loyal people to the west of it. To the east of the Mississippi we held substantially with the line of the Tennessee and Holston Rivers, running eastward to include nearly all of the State of Tennessee. South of Chattanooga a small foothold had been obtained in Georgia, sufficient to protect East Tennessee from incursions from the enemy's force at Dalton, Ga. West Virginia was substantially within our lines. Virginia, with the exception of the northern border, the Potomac River, a small area about the mouth of James River covered by the troops at Norfolk and Fort Monroe, and the territory covered by the Army of the Potomac lying along the Rapidan, was in the possession of the enemy. Along the seacoast footholds had been obtained at Plymouth, Washington, and New Berne, in North Carolina; Beaufort, Folly, and Morris Islands, Hilton Head, Fort Pulaski, and Port Royal, in South Carolina; Fernandina and Saint Augustine, in Florida. Key West and Pensacola were also in our possession, while all the important ports were blockaded by the Navy. The accompanying map,1 a copy of which was sent to General Sherman andl other commanders in March,  1864, shows by red lines the territory occupied by us at the beginning of the rebellion and at the opening of the campaign of 1864, while those in blue are the lines which it was proposed to occupy. Behind the Union lines there were many bands of guerrillas and a large population disloyal to the Government, making it necessary to guard every foot of road or river used in supplying our armies. In the South a reign of military despotism prevailed, which made every man and boy capable of bearing arms a soldier, and those who could not bear arms in the field acted as provosts for collecting deserters and returning them. This enabled the enemy to bring almost his entire strength into the field. The enemy had concentrated the bulk of his forces east of the Mississippi into two armies, commanded by Generals R. E. Lee and J. E. Johnston, his ablest and best generals. The army commanded by Lee occupied the south bank of the Rapidan, extending from Mine Run westward, strongly intrenched, covering and defending Richmond, the rebel capital, against the Army of the Potomac. The army under Johnston occupied a strongly intrenched position at Dalton, Ga., covering and defending Atlanta, Ga., a place of great importance as a railroad center, against the armies under Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman. In addition to these armies, he had a large cavalry force under Forrest in Northeast Mississippi; a considerable force of all arms in the Shenandoah Valley and in the western part of Virginia and extreme eastern part of Tennessee, and also confronting our sea-coast garrisons and holding blockaded ports where we had no foothold upon land. These two armies, and the cities covered and defended by them, were the main objective points of the campaign. Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, who was appointed to the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, embracing all the armies and territory east of the Mississippi River to the Alleghanies, and the Department of Arkansas, west of the Mississippi, had the immediate command of the armies operating against Johnston. Maj. Gen. George G. Meade had the immediate command of the Army of the Potomac, from where I exercised general supervision of the movements of all our armies. General Sherman was instructed2 to move against Johnston's army, to break it up, and to go into the interior of the enemy's country as far as he could, inflicting all the damage he could upon their war resources; if the enemy in his front showed signs of joining Lee, to follow him up to the full extent of his ability, while I would prevent the concentration of Lee upon him if it was in the power of the Army of the Potomac to do so. More specific written instructions were not given, for the reason that I had talked over with him the plans of the campaign, and was satisfied that he understood them and would execute them to the fullest extent possible. Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks, then on an expedition up Red River against Shreveport, La. (which had been organized previous to my appointment to command), was notified by me on the 15th of March of the importance it was that Shreveport should be taken at the earliest possible day, and that if he found that the taking of it would occupy from ten to fifteen days more time than General Sherman had given his troops to be absent from their command, he would send them back at the time specified by General Sherman, even if it led to the abandonment of the main object of the Red River expedition,  for this force was necessary to movements east of the