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Chapter 11: advance of the Army of the Potomac on Richmond.

  • Method of the advance of the Army of the Potomac
  • -- its advance, 295. -- the Confederates move to meet the Nationals, 296. -- Warren's advance attacked, 297. -- battle in the Wilderness begun, 298. -- battle of the Wilderness, 299, 300, 301, 302. -- Lee, foiled, retires to his intrenchments, 303. -- the Union Army out of the Wilderness, 304. -- skirmishes near Spottsylvania Court -- House, 305. -- battle of Spottsylvania Court -- House, 306, 307, 308. -- character of the fighting in that battle, 309. -- effects of these battles in Virginia, 310. -- Grant again attempts to flank Lee's Army, 311. -- Sheridan's raid in Lee's rear, 312. -- events in West Virginia, 313. -- Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley, 314. -- Hunter's expedition to Lynchburg, 315. -- the ravages of War, 316.

On the evening of the 3d of May, 1864, the Army of the Potomac was ready to advance, and at midnight it moved toward the Rapid Anna in two columns, the right from near Culpepper Court-House, and the left from Stevensburg. The right was composed of the corps of Warren (Fifth) and Sedgwick (Sixth); and the left, of the Second, under Hancock. The right was led by Warren, preceded by Wilson's cavalry division, and, on the morning of the 4th, crossed the Rapid Anna at Germania Ford, followed, during the forenoon, by Sedgwick's corps. The left, preceded by Gregg's cavalry, and followed by the entire army-train of wagons, four thousand in number, crossed at Elly's Ford at the same time.

The right column pushed directly into The Wilderness, and Warren, with Wilson's cavalry thrown out in the direction of Robertson's Tavern,1 bivouacked that night at the Old Wilderness Tavern, while Sedgwick encamped near the river. The left column pushed on to Chancellorsville, and bivouacked the same night on the battle-field around it,2 with Gregg's cavalry thrown out toward Todd's Tavern.3 Burnside's (Ninth) corps, which had been lying on the Rappahannock, intended, it was supposed, as a reserve for the defense of Washington City, had now moved rapidly forward, and, on the morning of the 5th,

May, 1864.
crossed the Rapid Anna at Germania Ford, and joined the Army of the Potomac, into which it was afterward incorporated.

Full one hundred thousand men, fresh and hopeful, with the immense army-train, were now across the Rapid Anna, and well on the flank of the Confederate army lying behind the strong intrenchments on Mine Run. In this advance the Nationals had met no opposition, and it was an achievement, Grant said, which removed from his mind the most serious apprehensions which he had entertained concerning the crossing of the river “in the face of an active, large, well-appointed, and ably commanded army.” 4 He now felt confident that by another day's march the Army of the Potomac [296] might pass The Wilderness, using it for a mask, and, by advancing rapidly on Gordonsville, take a position in the rear of the Army of Northern Virginia. For this purpose Sheridan was directed to move with the cavalry divisions of Gregg and Torbert against the Confederate cavalry, in the direction of Hamilton's Crossing, near Fredericksburg, and, at the same time, Wilson's division was ordered to move to Craig's Meeting-House, on the Catharpin road, and to send out from that point detachments upon other highways to watch the foe. Hancock was directed to move to Shady Grove Church, and extend his right toward the Fifth Corps, at Parker's store, while Warren, marching to the latter place, should extend his right toward the Sixth Corps, at the Old Wilderness Tavern, to which Sedgwick was ordered.

So the advance was begun early in the morning of the 5th.

May, 1864.
Preparations for it had not been unobserved by the Confederates, who were standing on the defensive, with heavy forces at points, en echelon, between the Rapid Anna and Gordonsville, and were exceedingly vigilant. Lee's scouts, in the thickets of The Wilderness, and his signal officers on the lofty summit of Clark's Mountain, had carefully watched the movements of the Nationals,

John Sedgwick.5

and when these had fairly developed Grant's intentions, the Confederate commander, with singular boldness and skill, changed his front, and proceeded to foil his antagonist. From Lee's center, near Orange Court-House, about twenty miles from the prescribed line of march of the Nationals, two roads running eastwardly, almost parallel to each other, penetrated and passed through The Wilderness. One (the more northerly) was an old turnpike, the other a plank road. Along these, when, on the 4th, the Army of the Potomac was passing the Rapid Anna and moving southward, a large portion of the Army of Northern Virginia was moving, leaving behind them the strong defenses on Mine Run as a place of refuge in the event of disaster. In two columns the Confederates were pressing along these roads, to confront the Nationals before they should reach the intersection of these highways with that from Germania Ford, and compel them to fight while in that wooded, tangled, and, to the latter, unknown region, so familiar to the former, where cavalry and artillery would be almost useless, and where the clouds of sharp-shooters belonging to Lee's army might ply their deadly vocation almost with impunity. General R. S. Ewell was leading the more northerly column along the turnpike, and A. P. Hill the other along the plank road; and that night Ewell's advance division, under Edward Johnson, bivouacked within three miles of the Old Wilderness Tavern, at the junction of the Orange turnpike with the Germania Ford road, near which Warren's corps was reposing. Neither party suspected the close proximity of the other. [297]

Warren was nearest the foe in the prescribed order of advance, and, early on the morning of the 5th,

May, 1864.
he had thrown out the division of Griffin on the turnpike, to watch in that direction, and prevent any interference with the march of Sedgwick's corps following the Fifth from the ford; while Crawford's division, forming Warren's advance, was set in motion along a wood-road toward Parker's store, near which Johnson had bivouacked. These movements were scarcely begun, when the foe was felt. Griffin's skirmishers on the turnpike were driven in, and some of Crawford's horsemen out on the plank road now came galloping back, with word that the Confederates were in front in strong force. Crawford sent forward a reconnoitering party of cavalry, which soon became warmly engaged, and asked for help, when he sent to their aid the Pennsylvania Bucktails, who reached the front in time to meet an attack of a Confederate infantry force which had arrived. The force in front of Crawford composed Hill's column, and that which attacked Griffin's skirmishers was the van of Ewell's column.

Such was the condition of affairs when, at near eight o'clock in the morning,

May 5.
Grant and Meade came up from. the ford, and took a position beneath the shadow of pine trees by the road-side, not far from The Wilderness Tavern. They could not at first believe that Lee had been guilty of the rashness of sending the bulk of his army five or six miles in front of his intrenchments to attack his foe, already in strong force on his flank, and it was supposed that the assailing columns were only parts of a strong rear-guard covering Lee's retreat. They were soon undeceived; but not fully, until after a battle was begun, and developed the fact that the bulk of Lee's army was there with the intention of fighting. With the impression that it was only his rear-guard, dispositions to sweep it away and seize the intrenchments on Mine Run were made. Perceiving that the heavier

Rant's Headquarters in the Wilderness.6

portion of the Confederates seemed to be on the turnpike, Crawford was directed to suspend operations on the plank road, while Griffin, with General Wadsworth's division on his left, and Robinson's division as a support, should attack the foe on their front. Crawford sent McCandless, with his brigade, to act on the left of Wadsworth, and then, with the remainder of his division, he withdrew, sharply followed. [298]

Preparations were now made for the attack. The ground on which the struggle was to occur — a struggle not anticipated by the National leaders — exhibited a little oasis in The Wilderness. Looking from Warren's quarters, near The Wilderness Tavern, was seen a little brook (Wilderness Run), and beyond it a gentle ridge, over which lay the turnpike. On the southern slope of that ridge was the house of Major Lacey, whose fine residence opposite Fredericksburg is delineated on page 19. Around it was a green lawn and meadows, and these were bounded by wooded hills, and thickets of pines and cedars — that peculiar covering of the earth which abounded in The Wilderness. On the right of the turnpike this thicket was very dense; and farther to the right was a ravine, which formed the dividing line of the forces of Griffin and Ewell on that eventful morning. The whole region, excepting the little opening around Lacey's house, was an irregular and broken surface, covered with small, thickly-set trees, and an almost impassable undergrowth, in the midst of which full two hundred thousand fighting men were now summoned to combat.

At noon, the Nationals, in force sufficient, it was thought, to set Lee's rear-guard flying, moved to the attack, on the turnpike, when the brigades of Ayres and Bartlett, of Griffin's division, the former on the right and the latter on the left of the highway, pressed rapidly forward, and bore the brunt of the first impetuous onset. The Confederates were easily driven, for only Johnson's division was in battle-line, with General Sam. Jones's brigade stretched across the turnpike. With the aid of a larger force then at hand, Ewell's corps might have been crushed. But its presence was unsuspected, and that force was not brought to bear. Ewell's column was saved by Stewart's brigade instantly coming up and taking the place of Johnson's shattered column, and the timely arrival of Rodes's division at the scene of strife. These fresh forces at once took the offensive. It had been arranged for the right of Warren's line to be assisted by the left of Sedgwick's, under General Wright; but so difficult was the passage through the thick wood, that the latter could not get up in time. Warren's right was thus left exposed, and against it the Confederates struck a quick and vigorous blow, by which Ayres and his regulars were hurled back, and so also was Bartlett's brigade. The fighting was desperate and sanguinary, during which the Confederates captured two guns and a number of prisoners, and gained a decided advantage. Meanwhile General Wadsworth, who had moved his division at the same time with that of Griffin, unable to co-operate with the latter on account of the tangled woods between them, had been somewhat misled, and found his flank exposed to a murderous fire, which caused his command to recoil in some confusion. At the same time the brigade of McCandless, sent by Crawford, found itself in an isolated position on the left of Wadsworth, where it was nearly surrounded, and escaped with great difficulty, after losing two full regiments. And so it was, that every rood of ground gained by the Nationals when they advanced was recovered by the Confederates, and Warren, with his corps bereaved of about three thousand men by this encounter, formed a new line a little in the rear, but still in front of The Wilderness Tavern.

At a little after one o'clock the head of the Sixth Corps was attacked by Ewell, while it was working its way into a position to support the Fifth, [299] when the Confederates, after a severe struggle, were repulsed, and gave way between three and four o'clock with a loss of Generals Jones and Stafford killed. Then Rodes's division, led by General Gordon, made a furious charge that caused the advance of the Sixth to, recoil with loss, when, in a countercharge, the Confederates were driven with the loss of General Pegram, who was severely wounded. A general advance of the Nationals was now ordered, but night came on before preparations for the movement were completed, and it was postponed.

Before this repulse of the Fifth Corps, and at least two hours before Griffin advanced, Grant was satisfied that Lee was disposed to-give battle in considerable force in The Wilderness, and he and Meade made dispositions accordingly. Hancock, with the Second Corps, was marching on his prescribed line, ten miles distant, when, at a point two or three miles from Todd's Tavern, he received orders first to halt, and then to hasten to the main body by the Brock road. At the same time Meade ordered General Getty, of the Sixth Corps, to seize and hold with his division, until Hancock should come up, the junction of the Brock with the plank road, along which Hill was advancing, and had passed Parker's store. Getty did so, and found himself at once pressed more and more by Hill, who had evidently been aiming to secure the same strategic point before Hancock should reach it. Getty held it firmly until about three o'clock, when Hancock's advance, under Birney, came up and secured the position absolutely. The whole of the Second Corps were soon there, in double line of battle in front of the Brock road, facing Hill's line stretched across the plank road.7 Hancock at once began to throw up breastworks on his front, but before they were completed, he was ordered to advance on Hill and drive him beyond Parker's store. Getty, moving on each side of the plank road, had already made a vigorous attack on Heth, driving in his pickets, and becoming hotly engaged. Then Hancock ordered to his support the divisions of Mott and Birney, with Ricketts's Battery and a company of the First Pennsylvania Artillery, when a most sanguinary battle ensued, at close distance, the musket-firing being deadly and continuous along the whole line. The brigades of Carroll and Owen, of Gibbon's division, and the Irish brigade under Colonel Smythe, of the Second Delaware, and others of Barlow's division, were soon involved in the fight. The battle-lines swayed to and fro. Mott's division gave way, and as General Alexander Hays was heading his command to fill the gap, he was shot dead while at the head of his troops in the thickest of the fight.

Grant and Meade were satisfied by sounds that reached their ears that there was heavier or more pressing work to be done in front of Hill than in a contest with Ewell, and so Wadsworth was ordered to lead his division, and Baxter's brigade of Robinson's, through the thickets, and fall upon Hill's flank and rear. So difficult was the march in the tangled way, and in the face of skirmishers, that it was dark, and the conflict had nearly ceased, before Wadsworth was in position for attack, so his men rested on their arms that night, close by Hill's reposing skirmishers, ready for assault in the morning. Hancock had continued unavailing efforts to drive Hill, until after dark, [300] when his wearied troops also laid down upon their arms, the combatants so near each other that both drew water from the same brook. At midnight all was silent in The Wilderness, where the roar of battle had been sounding for many hours, during which time the opposing forces exhibited the curious spectacle of each being divided almost as effectually as if a high wall was between them. Hancock was entirely separated from Warren and Sedgwick by a thicket that forbade co-operation, and for the same reason Hill and Well were unable to assist each other.

Notwithstanding their heavy losses, the opposing commanders determined to renew the struggle in the morning on that strange battle-field — an arena more fitted for the system of ,savage warfare than for that of civilized men. Preparations were made accordingly. Burnside was summoned to the front by Grant, and Longstreet was called up from Gordonsville by Lee. Burnside arrived before daybreak on the morning of the 6th;

May, 1864.
and Longstreet, arriving before midnight of the 5th, had bivouacked not far from the intrenchments on Mine Run. Burnside took position in the interval between Warren, on the turnpike, and Hancock, on the plank road, and Longstreet was directed to take position on Hill's right. Meade's line of battle, fully formed at dawn, was five miles in length, facing, westward, with Sedgwick on the right of Warren, and Burnside and Hancock on the left. Lee's army remained the same as on the evening of the. 5th, Ewell's corps, forming his left, being on the turnpike, and Hill's on the right, lying upon the plank road. Each line had been extended so as to form a

Battle of the Wilderness.

connection, and Longstreet was ready to take his prescribed position on Hill's left.

So stood the two great and veteran armies in the morning twilight on the 6th of May, 1864, ready for a struggle that must be necessarily almost hand to hand, in a country in which maneuvering, in the military sense, was almost impossible, and where, by the compass alone, like mariners at murky midnight, the movements of troops were directed. The three hundred guns of the combatants had no avocation there, and the few horsemen not away on outward duty were compelled to be almost idle spectators. Of the two hundred thousand men there ready to fall upon and slay each other, probably no man's eyes saw more than a thousand at one time, so absolute was the concealments of the thickets. Never in the history of war was such a spectacle [301] exhibited. Military skill was of little account, ana Grant knew it, and so he gave but the single general order, Attack along the whole line at five o'clock.

Lee was not quite ready at Grant's appointed hour, for he had made arrangements to strike the left of his antagonist a terrible and fatal blow, by which he hoped to drive him back to the Rapid Anna. It was for this purpose that Longstreet was ordered to the right of Hill. That general's force was not in position so early as Lee had hoped it would be, and therefore, to distract attention until Longstreet should be in position, and possibly to penetrate the National line at some weak point, he made a demonstration against Meade's right. This was done, at a little before five o'clock, by a fierce musketry attack upon Seymour's brigade, on the extreme right, which involved first Ricketts's division, and then Wright's. The assailants made desperate attempts to break through the lines, but were easily thrown back, when Sedgwick advanced his corps a little. At the same time Warren and Hancock made a simultaneous attack upon the foe on their front. The latter opened the battle on the left by advancing two divisions under Birney, with Getty's command, supported by the brigades of Owen and Carroll, of Gibbon's division. At the same time Wadsworth moved from his bivouack, and, gallantly fighting his way entirely across the portion of the Second Corps posted on the north of the plank road, wheeled up that highway, and commenced driving the Confederates, for Longstreet had not yet come into position, and Anderson's division was absent. Heth and Wilcox were driven a mile and a half back upon their trains and artillery, and nearly to Lee's Headquarters. The Confederate rifle-pits were captured, with many prisoners, and five battle-flags. A speedy and substantial triumph seemed to be promised for the Nationals, when, for some unexplained reason, the victors paused. It was a halt fatal to their hopes of success. During that interval Anderson came up and checked Hill's confused retreat, and at the same time the van of Longstreet's column, which had been marching to flank Hancock, appeared in front.

It was now about nine o'clock in the morning.

May 6, 1864.
Hancock re-formed his somewhat broken line, which had been re-enforced by Stevenson's division of Burnside's corps in addition to that of Wadsworth, and resumed his advance, when he found his way blocked by an unexpectedly large and determined force. Lee had recalled Longstreet from his flanking march to the assistance of Hill, and it was a greater portion of the Confederate army which Hancock had before him. He had been informed of Longstreet's flanking march, and was. expecting him from another quarter. For awhile the noise of guns where Sheridan, at eight o'clock, encountered Stuart's cavalry far on Hancock's left, was supposed to be the sounds of Longstreet's contest with National skirmishers, but while Hancock was looking for him on his flank, his van, as we have seen, had. taken position on his front. Ignorant of this, the latter resumed the attack. most vigorously, but could make no headway. Finally, after losing heavily, he found himself compelled, at about 11 o'clock, to fall back before an over-whelming force, sent, according to Lee's original plan, to double up the, National left, and drive the whole army back to the Rapid Anna. Wads-worth was then fighting gallantly, and pushing into a weak part of the Confederate line, when his own gave way. While trying to rally his flying [302] troops, who were hard pressed, he had two horses shot under him, and soon afterward a bullet pierced his brain, and he fell to the earth. The Confederates seized the dying man and sent him to their rear; where he expired the next day; but it was several days before his fate was known to his friends.8

This was a critical moment for the Army of the Potomac, for the superior mind of Longstreet was then evidently the chief director of the movement for executing Lee's plan for giving a deadly blow to the National left. He had sent a heavy force to seize the Brock road, on Hancock's left, while pushing him back on the front, when one of those incidents which some call “Providence,” and others “accident,” occurred, which doubtless saved the Army of the Potomac from great disaster. Longstreet, with his staff, was riding in front of his pursuing column, when he came suddenly upon the van of his flanking force. The latter, mistaking him and his attendants for

James S. Wadsworth.

National cavalry, fired upon them. Longstreet was severely wounded and disabled, when Lee took the immediate direction of the important movement. With less executive skill than his able lieutenant possessed, he occupied four hours in getting ready to carry it out. This caused a lull in the battle on that portion of the field, and enabled Hancock, who had been pressed back to his abatis and intrenchments on the Brock road, to make dispositions for meeting another attack, then evidently impending.

Meanwhile Sedgwick's corps, on the right, had lost heavily in unsuccessful attempts to carry Ewell's intrenched positions. Warren's had remained mostly on the defensive, but at almost every part of the line there was more or less skirmishing throughout the day. Finally, at four o'clock, when Lee had the troops of Hill and Longstreet well in hand, he hurled them heavily, in four columns, upon Hancock's intrenched position. They pushed up to within a hundred yards of the first line, when a sharp musketry battle ensued, without decisive results, until a fire in the woods was communicated to the logs of the breastworks, and soon enveloped them in flames. The smoke and ashes of the conflagration were driven by the wind directly in [303] the face of the Nationals. Taking advantage of this, the Confederates swept forward, driving back a body of the troops at the first line, and then striking Stevenson's division of Burnside's corps, which had taken position between Warren and Hancock. These, too, were thrown back toward Chancellorsville in great disorder, and the assailants, pressing through the gap they had formed, planted their flag on the breastworks. At that critical moment Colonel J. W. Hoffman, with parts of nine broken regiments (less than five hundred men), struck the assailants a blow that made them recoil, and thus saved the day on the left, as Hancock then declared.

Thus ended the struggle on the National left, where the heaviest of the fight had been carried on, and it was supposed that the battle was over for the day. But Lee made another desperate effort to achieve a victory, by swiftly massing his troops on the National right, and directing Ewell to attempt to turn it. At sunset a heavy column, led by General Gordon, moved swiftly from Ewell's extreme left, and in the twilight fell suddenly upon the brigades of Seymour and Shaler, of Ricketts's division, driving them back in much confusion, and capturing both commanders and nearly four thousand of their officers and men. It was a complete surprise for those wearied troops, who had cast themselves on the ground for rest; and for a little while the entire right wing of the army seemed to be in great peril. General Sedgwick prevented further confusion by promptly checking the advance of the Confederates, and the darkness made it impossible for them to do any thing more. Both armies rested that night, the Nationals holding precisely the ground they had occupied in the morning. So ended the battle of the Wilderness, with heavy losses on both sides.9

Lee was evidently satisfied that he could not maintain a further contest with his antagonist on the ground he (Lee) had chosen for the struggle, so he retired behind intrenchments, where he was found standing on the defensive by the skirmish line of the Nationals sent out at daybreak on Saturday morning, the 7th.

May, 1864.
Grant had no desire to renew the conflict there, and at an early hour he determined to resume his march southward, and get out of The Wilderness and its entanglements as soon as possible. He chose for his immediate destination the village of Spottsylvania Court-House, about thirteen miles southeast of the battle-ground in The Wilderness, and proceeded to plant his army, according to his original plan, between that of Lee and Richmond. Warren was directed to lead in the movement, which was to be along the Brock road, by way of Todd's Tavern.10 Hancock was to follow him, and Sedgwick and Burnside were to take a little more indirect route, by way of Chancellorsville. The army trains were to be parked at Chancellorsville toward evening, ready to follow the troops.

Warren moved at nine o'clock in the evening,

May 7.
his column preceded by cavalry. He pushed vigorously on, with the hope and expectation of reaching Spottsylvania Court-House before Lee should [304] be apprised of the movement. He was foiled by delays. First, at Todd's Tavern (where Gregg had fought and defeated Fitz Hugh Lee that day), General Meade's cavalry escort blocked his way for nearly two hours. Two miles farther on, in the midst of a magnificent woods, and near a little tributary of the River Po, he was again impeded by the cavalry division of Merritt, which the day before had been fighting Stuart's cavalry, whom Lee had sent to hold the Brock road. There he was detained almost three hours, and when he was ready to advance it was daylight. The road was barricaded by heavy trees, which had

Spottsylvania Court-House.11

been cut and felled across it, and it was about eight o'clock on Sunday morning
May 8, 1864.
before the head of Warren's column, composed of two brigades under General Robinson, emerged from the woods in battle order at Alsop's farm upon the high open plain two or three miles from Spottsylvania Court-House. There the road from Todd's Tavern forks, one branch leading toward the court-house, and the other to Laurel Hill. Beyond this plain was a slight depression, and where the road ascended to Spottsylvania Ridge the slope was covered with woods.

Up to this time Warren had met with no resistance, excepting from Stuart's dismounted cavalry, but now, as Robinson advanced over the plain toward the wood, he was met by a cannonade from the ridge and a murderous musket-fire from the forest. Robinson returned the cannonade promptly, but was soon severely wounded, when his troops, wearied by the night's hard march and toil, and depressed by their terrible experience in The Wilderness, were made to recoil. They would have fled in wild confusion back upon the main body, had not Warren appeared at their head at a timely moment. He rallied and re-formed them in the open wood on the edge of the plain, and so prevented a sad disaster. Later in the day Griffin's division, which advanced on. the road to the right of Robinson's march, had a similar experience, and, after gallantly fighting, fell back of the second line, when the divisions of Crawford and Wadsworth (the latter now commanded by General Cutler) came up and drove the Confederates from the woods on the right. Warren's entire corps then formed a battle-line, and the troops, without waiting for orders to do so, fell to intrenching.

The foe thus encountered by Meade's advance was the head of Longstreet's corps (then commanded by General Anderson), and was there by seeming accident. The withdrawal of the trains of the Army of the Potomac [305] from the battle-field of The Wilderness apprised Lee of the fact that the army was. about to move,12 but whither he knew not. It might be to Spottsylvania, or it might be back to Fredericksburg. So he ordered Anderson to take his corps from the breastworks and encamp that night in a position to move on Spottsylvania in the morning. Finding no suitable place for bivouacking, on account of the burning woods, Anderson marched that night, simultaneously with Warren, each ignorant of the other's movement. The former arrived in time to throw the head of his column across the latter's path, to confront him with cannon and intrenchments, and to foil his attempt to seize Spottsylvania Court-House. Such were the events which produced the situation we have just considered.

Warren did not feel strong enough to encounter the troops on his front, who were continually increasing in numbers and industriously intrenching on Spottsylvania Ridge, so he awaited the arrival of Sedgwick. He reached the front in the afternoon, and took command of the field in the absence of Meade, who, with all of Hancock's corps but Gibbon's division, had remained at Todd's Tavern, in anticipation of an attack by Lee on the rear of the Army of the Potomac. Sedgwick felt strong enough with the two corps to attempt to drive the Confederates from their advantageous position, but it was, nearly sunset before his dispositions for attack were finished. Then a fruitless, assault was made by a New Jersey brigade of Neill's division. General Crawford again advanced, when he was unexpectedly struck upon his flank by a part of Ewell's corps that was coming up, and was driven a full mile, with a loss of about one hundred men made prisoners. When night closed in, nearly the whole of Lee's army was in the vicinity of Spottsylvania Court-House, and holding the ridge in front of it, .with strong intrenchments, growing more formidable every hour. During the day Wilson had penetrated to the village with his cavalry, but, being unsupported, was compelled to retire. On the same day the brigade of General Miles was thrown out by Hancock on the Catharpin road, with a brigade of Gregg's cavalry and a, battery of artillery, to meet any hostile approach from that direction. Near Corbyn's Bridge they were attacked, when the assailants were repulsed and driven. On Sunday night, the 8th of May,

Lee stood squarely and firmly across the path of the southward march of the Army of the Potomac, and he held that army in check there for twelve days.

On the morning of the 9th, Meade's army was formed in battle order before the Confederate lines. Hancock came up from Todd's Tavern at an early hour, and two divisions of Burnside's corps, on the left, pushed to the Fredericksburg road, driving the Confederates across the little River Ny. In the arrangement of the line, Hancock occupied the right, Warren the center, and Sedgwick the left, with Burnside on his left. General Sheridan [306] was sent that morning, with a heavy cavalry force, to break up Lee's communications with Richmond, and the greater part of the day was spent chiefly in intrenching, and making other preparations for battle. There was skirmishing now and then, when troops moved to take new positions; and the Confederate sharp-shooters, having convenient. places for concealment, were particularly active. One of these inflicted irreparable injury upon the Union army, by sending a bullet through the brain of the gallant Sedgwick,

The place where Sedgwick was killed.13

while he was giving directions for strengthening the intrenchments on his front. He fell dead; and then there was sincere mourning throughout the army, for the soldiers loved him; and the loyal people of the land felt bereaved, for a true patriot had fallen. He was succeeded in the command of the Sixth Corps, on the following day, by General H. G. Wright. On the same day Brigadier-General W. H. Morris, son of the lyric poet, the late George P. Morris, was severely wounded.

Every thing was in readiness for battle on the morning of the 10th.

May, 1864.
By a movement the previous evening, having for its chief object the capture of a part of a Confederate wagon-train moving into Spottsylvania Court-House, Hancock had made a lodgment, with three of his divisions, on the south side of the Ny, and he was proceeding to develop the strength of the enemy on the National right, when General Meade suspended the movement. It had been determined to make an attack upon an eminence in front of the Fifth and Sixth Corps, known as Laurel Hill, whose crest was thickly wooded, and crowned with earth-works, which had been previously constructed as a remote defense of Richmond, and Hancock was ordered to recall two of his divisions from the south side of the Ny, to assist in the assault. The divisions of Gibbon and Birney at once retired, when that of the latter was sharply assailed in the rear. The remaining division (Barlow's) was left in a perilous condition, for his skirmishers had just been driven in. With great skill and valor their commander managed his troops, when a new peril appeared. The woods, between his column and the river, [307] had burst into flames, and the brigades of Brooke and Brown were compelled to fight Confederates and fire at the same time. They succeeded in repelling the assailants, and recrossed the stream, but with a heavy loss of men and one gun.

Arrangements were now made for assailing Laurel Hill across the Ny, the most formidable position of the Confederate line. It had been attacked, at eleven o'clock in the morning, by the brigades of Webb and Carroll, and, at three o'clock, the divisions of Crawford and Cutler had assailed it, in order to prepare the way for the grand assault, in aid of which Hancock's troops had been recalled. In both attacks the Nationals were repulsed with heavy loss.

Now came the more desperate struggle. At five o'clock in the evening, when the Second Corps had joined the Fifth, both moved to the attack. The conflict that ensued was fearful. The Nationals struggled up the slopes in the face of a terrible storm of deadly missiles, and penetrated the breast-works at one or two points. But they were soon repulsed, with dreadful loss. The assault was repeated an hour later, with a similar result. In the two encounters nearly six thousand Union troops had fallen, while not more than six hundred of the Confederates had been disabled. Among the Union killed were Generals J. C. Rice and T. G. Stevenson. The enterprise was abandoned, but fighting was not over. Still later, two brigades of the Sixth Corps, commanded respectively by General Russell and Colonel Upton, attacked and carried the first line of Confederate works on their front, and captured over nine hundred prisoners and several guns. They were too far in advance to receive immediate support, expected from General Mott, and were compelled to fall back, taking with them their prisoners, but leaving the guns behind. So ended, at dark, the first day of the Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House. It had been a day of awful strife and slaughter. Not less than nine thousand Unionists and eight thousand Confederates were lost to the service by death, wounds, or captivity. Yet the respective commanders, each comprehending the value of victory in the strife upon which they had entered, determined to renew it on the morrow, and made preparations accordingly. Although a vast number of Unionists had fallen or had been captured within the space of five days, the Lieutenant-General was hopeful, and, on the morning of the 11th, he sent a cheering dispatch to the Secretary of War, closing with words characteristic of the man,--“I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.” 14

The 11th was mostly spent in preparations for another battle. There were reconnoiterings and skirmishes, but no serious engagements. The afternoon was rainy, and the night that followed was dark and dismal, for the moon was in its first quarter, the clouds were thick, and the rain still fell. Grant had determined to strike Lee's line at its right center, not far from Mr. Landrum's house, which seemed to be its most vulnerable point, and Hancock was chosen to give the blow. At midnight he left the front of [308] Hill's corps, and moving silently to the left, guided only by the compass, he took post between Wright and Burnside, near the house of Mr. Brown, to be in readiness for work in the morning. Then in two lines, the first composed of the divisions of Barlow and Birney, and the second of those of Gibbon and Mott, he moved, under cover of a dense fog, swiftly and noiselessly over the broken and thickly-wooded ground, toward the salient of an earth-work occupied by the division of Edward Johnson, of Ewell's corps. At a proper moment the silence was broken by loud cheers, as the brigades of Barlow and Birney dashed upon the works in a fierce charge, fought hand to hand with bayonets and clubbed muskets, and captured Johnson, with almost his entire division, who were breakfasting. With these, General George H. Stewart15 and his two brigades were made prisoners, and nearly thirty guns and many colors were the trophies. Hancock sent over three thousand prisoners back to Grant, with a note, written in pencil, saying: “I have captured from thirty to forty guns. I have finished up Johnson, and am going into Early.” It afterward appeared that he had almost captured Lee, and cut the Confederate army in two.

Hancock failed to “go into Early” in the way he anticipated. The enthusiasm of his troops after their success, was unbounded, and seemed equal to any demand. Indeed, they could not be restrained. They pushed forward after flying Confederates through the woods toward Spottsylvania Court-House, for a mile, when they were checked by a second and unfinished line of breastworks, behind which the fugitives rallied and turned upon their pursuers. The entire Confederate line had been aroused by the surprise, to a sense of great peril, and the most desperate efforts were made to prevent further disaster, and to recover what had been lost. Ewell was immediately re-enforced by troops from the corps of Hill and Longstreet, and Hancock's victors were thrown back to the line they had captured, and upon them these heavy masses of the foe were thrown.

Grant had anticipated this, and provided for it. Wright was ordered up with the Sixth Corps to the assistance of Hancock. He arrived at six o'clock, and, at eight, Warren and Burnside gallantly attacked the whole Confederate line on their front. Charge followed charge in quick succession, and with great slaughter on both sides, but without avail to the assailants; and, at length, the attack was intermitted, and the divisions of Griffin and Cutler, of Warren's corps, were sent to the assistance of Hancock, who was firmly holding the prize he had won, against great odds. The position of the Confederates in front of Warren and Burnside was so strong, that they not only held it firmly, but sent aid to their friends in front of Hancock, where the battle was raging furiously, for Lee was determined to retake the works Johnson and Stewart had lost. Five times he hurled a tremendous weight of men and weapons upon Hancock, in order to dislodge him. The combatants fought hand to hand most desperately, and the flags of both [309] were several times seen planted on each side of the breastworks, simultaneously, and within a few feet of each other.

Lee's assaults were repulsed with dreadful carnage on both sides, and yet he persisted, notwithstanding rain fell heavily all the afternoon. It was midnight before he ceased to fight, when he sullenly withdrew with his terribly-shattered and worn columns, after a combat of twenty hours, leaving Hancock in possession of the works he had captured in the morning, and twenty guns. So ended the battle of Spottsylvania Court-House, one of the bloodiest of the war. It had been fought chiefly by infantry, and at short range, although artillery was freely used. Probably there never was a battle in which so many bullets flew in a given space of time and distance. When the

Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House.

writer visited the scene of strife, two years afterward,
June 7, 1866.
full one-half of the trees of the wood, at a point where the fiercest struggle ensued, within the salient of the Confederate works, were dead, and nearly all the others were scarred from the effect of musket-balls. At the War Department, in the National Capital, may now
be seen a portion of the trunk of a large oak-tree, which was cut in two by bullets alone. Its appearance is given in the annexed engraving.16

On the morning of the 13th,

May, 1864.
the Confederates were behind an inner and shorter line of intrenchments,

Bullet-severed Oak.

immediately in front of Hancock. Their position seemed as invulnerable as ever, yet they had lost much ground since the struggle began. Notwithstanding the Army of the Potomac had lost nearly thirty thousand men in the space of eight days,17 the commander saw much encouragement in the situation, and on that morning [310] he addressed a stirring congratulatory epistle to his troops, in which he recapitulated their achievements since the campaign began, during “eight days and nights almost without intermission, in rain and sunshine,” against a foe “in positions naturally strong, and rendered doubly so by intrenchments.” He told them that the work was not yet over, but that every thing was encouraging. “We shall soon receive re-enforcements,” he said, “which the foe cannot expect. Let us determine to continue vigorously the work so well begun, and, under God's blessing, in a short time, the object of our labors will be accomplished.” 18

In the mean time the whole country was deeply stirred by the events of the campaign thus far, as reported by the electric and electrifying tongue of the telegraph. Upon Grant and Lee the thoughts of the whole nation were directed. From the office of Edwin M. Stanton, the successful rival in fame of L. M. N. Carnot, as a War Minister, went out bulletins, day after day, which produced the most intense anxiety and cheering hope; and on the 9th,

May 1864.
when the Army of the Potomac had passed The Wilderness, and confronted its foe near Spottsylvania Court-House, the President issued an address “To the friends of Union and Liberty,” telling them that enough was then known of the operations of the army to claim a feeling “of special gratitude to God ;” and he recommended “that all patriots, at their homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they may be, unite in common thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.” At the National Capital the excitement on that day was intense, and the loyal people went by thousands in a procession, with music and banners, to the White House, to congratulate the President. Then came Grant's dispatch,
May 11.
declaring that he proposed to fight it out on that line if it took all summer, to which were added Meade's congratulatory address on the 13th, and cheering dispatches from Grant and Mr. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, sent on the same morning.19

From the 13th to the 18th of May, the two armies confronted each other with sleepless vigilance, engaged in maneuvers and counter-maneuvers, and watching for the appearance of some weak point in the position or disposition of each other that might warrant an attack. During these movements several sharp skirmishes occurred, and a vast amount of fatiguing labor was endured by the troops. Finally, Grant was satisfied that it would be almost impossible for him to carry Lee's position, so he prepared to turn it, and thereby bring him out of his intrenchments. This was resolved upon after an abortive attempt to carry a portion of the Confederate works, early on the morning of the 18th,

by the divisions of Gibbon and Barlow, supported by the division of Birney, and another of foot artillerists, under General R. 0. Tyler, which had just come down from the defenses of Washington. The movement was arrested at the abatis in front of the works by a heavy fire, which repulsed the assailants, and at ten o'clock Meade withdrew the assaulting force.

On the following day

May 19.
preparations were made for the turning movement. Knowing or suspecting it, Lee made dispositions for [311] foiling it. He took the aggressive, by sending nearly the whole of Ewell's corps to strike Meade's weakened right, held by Tyler's artillerists, who lay across the road from Spottsylvania Court-House to Fredericksburg, which was the main line of communication with the base of the army supplies, at the latter place. Ewell swept across the Ny, seized that important road, and attempted to capture a wagon-train upon it, when he was stoutly resisted by Tyler and his artillerists. These had never been under fire before, but they fought with the coolness and steadiness of the veterans of the Second and Fifth Corps, who came to their assistance, but not until after Ewell had been repulsed. They did not fight with the caution of the veterans, and lost heavily. They and their gallant leader have the honor of repulsing Ewell; and they share with others in the credit of scattering the foe in the woods up the Valley of the Ny, and capturing several hundred of them.

By this attack Grant's flanking movement was disturbed and temporarily checked, but it was resumed on the following night,

May 20, 21, 1864.
after he had buried his dead and sent his wounded to Fredericksburg. His fearful losses up to the 13th had been greatly increased,20 yet with full hope and an inflexible will he kept his face toward Richmond. When the army abandoned its base north of the Rapid Anna, it established another at Fredericksburg (from which was a route for supplies from Washington by a short railway, and by steamboat from Belle Plain and Acquia Creek), to which point the sick and wounded were sent. There they were met and ministered to by the angelic company sent by the loyal people with the comforts and consolations of the Sanitary and Christian commissions. As the army moved on toward Richmond, new bases were opened, first at Port Royal, and then at White House, under the direction of that most efficient Chief Quartermaster, General Rufus Ingalls.

The writer visited the region where the battles of Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and of Spottsylvania Court-House, were fought, early in June, 1866, with his traveling companions (Messrs. Dreer and Greble), accompanied by quite a cavalcade of young army officers, some of them in charge of the military post at Fredericksburg, and others connected with a burial party, then in the vicinity, busied in gathering up the remains of the patriot soldiers for interment in the National Cemetery there. We had just come up from the battle-fields around Richmond, and had visited places of interest around Fredericksburg, mentioned in chapter XVIII., volume II.; and at the morning twilight of the 7th of June, we left the latter city for the neighboring fields of strife.

We went out on the plank road, by way of Salem Church, to Chancellorsville, and so on to The Wilderness, visiting in that gloomy region the place where Wadsworth fell; the spot where Hancock and his companions struggled with Hill, and Warren and others fought with Ewell. Everywhere we saw mementoes of the terrible strife. The roads were yet strewn with pieces of clothing, shoes, hats, and military accouterments; the trees were scarred and broken; lines of earth-works ran like serpents in many directions, half concealed by the rank undergrowth, made ranker in places by the [312] horrid nourishment of blood; and near where Wadsworth was smitten was a little clearing, inclosed with palings, and used as “God's acre” for the bodies of the slain heroes of the war.

Returning to Chancellorsville, we took the road for Spottsylvania Court-House, over which Warren and his troops passed and Hancock followed, lunching at Aldrich's,21 passing the now famous old wooden building of Todd's Tavern,22 then a school-house, early in the afternoon, and not long afterward emerging from The Wilderness at the point where Warren's troops did. As we rode over the high plain where Robinson fought, we began to see the scars of the Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House. After visiting and sketching the place where Sedgwick was killed, we rode over the ground where Hancock and the Confederates struggled so fearfully for the salient of the intrenchments, everywhere seeing the terrible effects of the battle. At sunset we rode into the battered village of Spottsylvania Court-House, sketched the old building depicted on page 304, crossed the Ny at twilight, arrived at Fredericksburg at near midnight after a ride of nearly fifty miles, with a dozen sketches made during the day, and left the next morning for Washington City, by way of Acquia Creek and the Potomac River.

We have observed that when the Army of the Potomac emerged from The Wilderness, Sheridan was sent to cut Lee's communications. This was the first of the remarkable raids of that remarkable leader, in Virginia, and, though short, was a destructive one. He took with him a greater portion of the cavalry led by Merritt, Gregg, and Wilson,23 and cutting loose from the army, he swept over the Po and the Ta,24 crossed the North Anna on the 9th,

May, 1864.
and struck the Virginia Central railway at Beaver Dam Station, which he captured. He destroyed ten miles of the railway; also its rolling stock, with a million and a half of rations, and released four hundred Union prisoners on their way to Richmond from The Wilderness. There he was attacked in flank and rear by General J. E. B. Stuart and his cavalry, who had pursued him from the Rapid Anna, but was not much impeded thereby. He pushed on, crossed the South Anna at Ground-squirrel Bridge, and at daylight on the morning of the 11th, captured Ashland Station, on the Fredericksburg road, where he destroyed the rail-way property, a large quantity of stores, and the road itself for six miles.

Being charged with the duty of not only destroying these roads, but of menacing Richmond and communicating with the Army of the James, under General Butler, Sheridan pressed on in the direction of the Confederate capital, when he was confronted by Stuart at Yellow Tavern, a few miles north of Richmond, where that able leader, having made a swift, circuitous march, had concentrated all of his available cavalry. Sheridan attacked him at once, and, after a sharp engagement, drove the Confederates toward Ashland, on the north fork of the Chickahominy, with a loss of their gallant leader, who, with General Gordon, was mortally wounded. Inspirited by this success, Sheridan pushed along the now open turnpike toward Richmond, and [313] made a spirited dash upon the outer works. Custer's brigade carried them at that point, and made one hundred prisoners. As in the case of Kilpatrick's raid, so now, the second line of works were too strong to be carried by cavalry. The troops in and around the city had rallied for their defense, and in an attack the Nationals were repulsed. Then Sheridan led his command across the Chickahominy, at Meadow Bridge, where he beat off a considerable force of infantry sent out from Richmond, and who attacked him in the rear, while another force assailed his front. He also drove the foe on his front, when he destroyed the railway bridge there, and then pushed on southward to Haxhall's Landing,

May 14, 1864.
on the James River, where he rested three days and

Philip H. Sheridan.

procured supplies. Then, by way of White House and Hanover Court-House, he leisurely returned to the Army of the Potomac, which he rejoined on the 25th of May.

Before proceeding to follow the Army of the Potomac further in its advance toward Richmond, let us see what had been doing for awhile on its right by forces which, as we have observed, had been arranged in Western Virginia for co-operating movements. For some time that region had been the theater of some stirring minor events of the war. Confederate cavalry, guerrilla bands, and resident “bushwhackers” had been active and mischievous; while Moseby, the marauding chief, was busy in the region east of the Blue Ridge, between Leesburg and the Rappahannock, which his followers called his “Confederacy.” So early as the beginning of January,

Fitz-Hugh Lee, with his cavalry, made a fruitless raid on the Baltimore and Ohio railway, west of Cumberland. A little later, General Jubal Early, in command of the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley, sent General Rosser on a foraging excursion in the same direction. He was more successful, for in Hardy County he captured
Jan. 30.

Jubal Early.

six-mule wagons heavily laden with supplies, twelve hundred cattle, and five hundred sheep, with two hundred and seventy men of the guard, who made only slight resistance. Four days later, he suddenly appeared
Feb. 2.
at Patterson's Creek Station, [314] west of Cumberland, and captured a company of Union soldiers, but on his return he was struck a severe blow by General Averill, not far from Romney, and driven entirely out of the new Commonwealth, with a loss of his prisoners and a large proportion of his own men and horses. Ten days afterward, Champe Ferguson, one of the most notorious of the lower order of guerrilla leaders, was surprised while at the Rock House, in Wayne County, of West Virginia, by Colonel Gallup, who was in command on the eastern border of Kentucky. Ferguson and fifty of his men were made prisoners, and fifteen others were killed. A few days before that, Lieutenant Verdigan, one of Ferguson's followers, with ten men, surprised and captured a steamboat on the Kanawha River, on board of which was General Scammon (then commanding at Charleston, in the Kanawha Valley), four officers and twenty-five private soldiers. All but Scammon and his two aids were paroled by the guerrillas. These officers were sent to Richmond and confined in the loathsome Libby prison.

These events were followed by others of greater magnitude and importance in. that region, after Grant assumed the general command. General Sigel, as we have observed, was placed with a large force in the Shenandoah Valley, to co-operate with the Army of the Potomac. He gave the immediate command of his forces in the Kanawha Valley to General George Crook, and with the remainder, about eight thousand strong, under his own personal command, he moved up the Shenandoah Valley, along its fine turnpike, on the first of May.

His first destination was Staunton, at the head of the valley, whence he was to move over the Blue Ridge to Charlottesville, and then to march right or left, to Lynchburg or Gordonsville, as circumstances might determine. When near New Market, almost fifty miles from Winchester, he was met by an equal force under General Breckinridge, whom Lee had sent to oppose his advance, with such troops as he might hastily gather. Breckinridge found it necessary to oppose Crook also, and for that purpose he sent General McCausland west-ward with as many troops as could be spared from the Valley.

After much maneuvering and skirmishing near New Market, Breckinridge made an impetuous charge

May 15.
upon Sigel, and ended a sharp fight by driving him more than thirty miles down the valley, to the shelter of Cedar Creek, near Strasburg, with a loss of seven hundred men, six guns, a thousand small-arms, a portion of his train, and his hospitals. Grant immediately relieved General Sigel, and General Hunter took command of his troops, with instructions to push swiftly on to Staunton, destroy the railway between that place and Charlottesville, and then, if possible, move on Lynchburg.

Meanwhile, General Crook, whose cavalry was led by General Averill, had moved

May 1.
up the Kanawha Valley from Charleston, for the purpose of operating against the Virginia and Tennessee railway, between Dublin Station, in Pulaski County, and Wytheville, on New River, in Wythe County, in Southwestern Virginia. Unfortunately, Crook divided and weakened his command by sending Averill, with his two thousand horsemen, to destroy the lead mines near Wytheville, while he advanced with his six thousand infantry toward Dublin Station, farther east. Averill's descent upon Wytheville and its vicinity was no more fruitful of benefit [315] than was his raid to Salem the previous year,25 for he was there met by Morgan and his men,
May 10, 1864.
sent from Saltville by General W. E. Jones, and, after a sharp fight, was compelled to retire without accomplishing his object. Meanwhile, Crook had approached Dublin Station, and when within four miles of it, was met by McCausland with an inferior force. A battle ensued, and was fought gallantly by both parties. It resulted in the defeat of the Confederates, but with a loss on the part of the Nationals of over seven hundred men, of whom one hundred and twenty-five were killed. Crook destroyed the railroad a few miles, when, on the appearance of a strong force sent by Morgan from Wytheville, before Averill reached there, he withdrew and retreated to Meadow Bridge, in the direction of the Kanawha. When Averill retired from Wytheville and marched to meet Crook at Dublin Station, the latter had departed, and the former had no safe alternative but to follow.

General Hunter, on assuming command of Sigel's troops, immediately advanced on Staunton with about nine thousand men, some re-enforcements having arrived. At Piedmont, near Middle River, a tributary of the Shenandoah, in Augusta County, not far from Staunton, he encountered

June 5.
an equal force of Confederates, under Generals W. E. Jones and McCausland. These were all of the concentrated forces in that region, Breckinridge having been called, with a greater portion of his command, to assist in the defense of Richmond. An obstinate and hard-fought battle ensued, which ended with the daylight, and resulted in the complete defeat and route of the Confederates. “A worse whipped or more utterly demoralized crowd of beaten men never fled from a field,” wrote one of General Hunter's staff. Their leader, General Jones, was killed by a shot through his head, and with him many others were slain or wounded. Fifteen hundred Confederates were made prisoners, and the spoils of victory were several battle-flags, three guns, and three thousand small-arms.

Three days after the battle of Piedmont, Hunter was joined, at Staunton, by the forces of Crook and Averill, when the whole body, about twenty thousand strong, moved toward Lynchburg by way of Lexington. That city was the largest in the western part of Old Virginia, in the center of a fertile and populous region around the upper waters of the James River, with extensive manufactures, and in direct communication with Richmond by railroad and canal, and also with Petersburg and all the South by railway. It was the focal point of a vast region from whence Richmond and Lee's army must draw supplies, and on that account, and its relations as a strategic point with the struggle then going on for the possession of Richmond, made it almost as important as the Confederate capital itself. This Lee well knew, and, notwithstanding he was then most sorely pressed by the armies of the Potomac and the James, he sent a considerable force to assist in holding Lynchburg. Hence it was, that when Hunter arrived before it, and made an attack

June 18.
upon the southern side of the city, its garrison and the strong works around it were able to defy him. Hunter soon perceived its strength, and the fact that an overwhelming force was gathering to crush him. Considering these things, and the alarming circumstance [316] of his ammunition being nearly exhausted, he thought it prudent not to prosecute an attack on the city, but to retire. Neither was it prudent to go back by the way he had advanced, for a heavy Confederate force might easily be thrown upon his rear by means of the Virginia Central railway; so he retired westward to Salem, hotly pursued as far as that place, and then made his way, with a very scanty supply of food for man and beast, over the mountains, by the village of New Castle, to Meadow Bridge, in the direction of the Kanawha. There, only a few days before, Crook and Averill had left a million and a half of rations in charge of two regiments of Ohio one hundred days men, and expected to find a supply for the famishing army. They were disappointed. A band of guerrillas had swept away rations and men, and it was not until the 27th
June, 1864.
that a supply was obtained. The army had suffered dreadfully in that exhausted mountain region, and was much weaker in numbers and moral strength than when it left Staunton. It had inflicted vast injury upon the Confederates in the destruction of founderies, mills, factories, and other property of value to the Confederates, but had achieved little that had any important bearing on the campaign. Its now far distance from the grand theater of operations against Richmond, caused it to be lost to that. campaign for several weeks.

The ravages of the war upon the head waters of the streams between the Potomac and James Rivers, at that time, were dreadful. It was a region wherein lay the estates of some of the older and most distinguished families of Virginia, and the sudden change wrought in the condition of the residents was lamentable. It was saddening to see the wealthy and r n e b r refined, the noble and gentle — men and women who had never experienced poverty nor the necessity for toiling,--instantly reduced from

An ancient Coach in ruins.

abundance and ease to want and hardship. Elegant mansions filled with rare and costly furniture, valuable books and works of art, were laid waste; and the broad lands were stripped of laborers, utensils, and almost every living creature. Family coaches, which had descended from generation to generation since colonial times, were converted into ambulances for the sick and wounded, and reduced to ruin by the rough usages of war; and other precious heir-looms, with valuable records, public and private, were sacrificed to the appetite of the demons of Discord and Desolation.

1 See map on page 111.

2 See map on page 87.

3 See page 24.

4 Report of Lieutenant-General Grant of the Armies of the United States, 1864-5, page 6. General Grant took occasion at the outset of the report to refer to the anomalous position of General Meade, who was the commander of the Army of the Potomac. He says he tried to leave General Meade in independent command of the army. His instructions were all given through Meade. They were general in their nature, leaving all the details to him. “The campaigns that followed,” Grant said, “proved him to be the right man in the right place.” His commanding in the presence of an officer of superior rank drew from him much of the public attention.

5 this is from a fine photograph, from life by Rockwood, of New York City.

6 from a sketch made by the author, in June, 1866.

7 Hill's corps consisted of the divisions of Generals Anderson, Heth, and Wilcox.

8 The death of General Wadsworth produced the most profound sorrow. He was a man of large wealth, of the first social position in the State of New York, and universally known as a model of a Christian gentleman. At the breaking out of the rebellion he at once offered his person, and his wealth and influence, in defense of the Republic. He was a patriot in the highest sense of the term. He had been brought prominently before the public as a candidate for Governor of his State. Such was his high character, and his rank in the army, that the Governor of New York (Horatio Seymour) felt constrained, in deference to public feeling, to take notice of his death. Being opposed to the war, Mr. Seymour could not consistently commend him as a patriot; so, after speaking of him highly as a man and citizen, he said: “From the outset an ardent supporter of the war, to him belongs the merit of freely periling his own person in upholding the opinions he advocated.” It is proper to say that this low view of General Wadsworth's motives in taking up arms was entirely unjust. He was actuated by aims higher than the vulgar aspirations of the mere politician, who cannot easily comprehend unselfishness. He was fighting for his country and the rights of man, not for the “opinions” of himself or a party.

9 According to the most careful estimates, the National loss in this sanguinary battle of two days duration was nearly, if not quite, 18,000 men, of whom 6,000 were made prisoners. The Confederate loss was probably about 11,000. Among the wounded of the Nationals were Generals Getty, Gregg, Owen, Bartlett, and Webb, and Colonel Carroll. The Confederates lost in killed, Generals Sam. Jones and A. G. Jenkins; and the wounded were Generals Longstreet, Stafford (mortally), Pickett, Pegram, and Hunter. Longstreet was disabled for several months.

10 See page 24.

11 this is a view of the county building of the shire of Spottsylvania, around which grew up a village that derived its name from the edifice. This county received its name from Alexander Spottswood, Governor of Virginia, who owned and worked iron mines in that region, and at what is now known as Germania Ford, he founded a town, the inhabitants of which being chiefly German miners, it was called Germania. The last syllable of Spottswood's name, wood, was Latinized, and hence the name of Spottsylvania.

12 Speaking of this event, a late writer (Professor Henry Coppee) observes: “Spies and traitors were all around our Headquarters. Our signals were discovered and. repeated; and with a rapidity which savored of magic and diabolic arts, no sooner had an order been issued by Grant than it was known at Lee's Headquarters. On the other hand, we had no such information. There were not in the rebel ranks, wicked as they were, men as vile as Northern traitors, who, while wearing the uniform of the Republic, living on its bounty, and sworn to protect its glorious banner, were in secret league with the enemy, and doing more to defeat Grant's plans than did the men who were arrayed in battle against him.” --Grant and his Campaigns, by Henry Coppee, page 302. It is well understood that emissaries of the Peace Faction, professing loyalty, were at this time in Government employment in the Department at Washington and in the armies in the field, secretly giving aid, in every possible way, to the enemies of the Republic

13 this is from a sketch made by the author in June, 1866, taken from the breastworks in front of the Union line. Toward the right is seen the logs of the battery, the construction of which Sedgwick was superintending, and near which he fell. The bullet came from the clump of trees on the knoll seen more to the right, on rising ground.

14 The dispatch was as follows, dated at eight o'clock on the morning of the 11th: “We have now ended the sixth day of very heavy fighting. The result, to this time, is much in our favor. Our losses have been heavy, as well as those of the enemy. I think the loss of the enemy must be greater. We have taken over 5,000 prisoners by battle, while he has taken from us but few, except stragglers. I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”

15 Stewart was a Maryland rebel, who was conspicuous in Baltimore at the time of the massacre of Massachusetts troops there in the spring of 1861. See page 415, volume I. His fine house and grounds in Baltimore, at this time, were used as an asylum for the sick and wounded, known as the Jarvis Hospital. He was an old army friend of Hancock, and it is related that the latter, on the occasion we are considering, cordially offered his hand to the prisoner, saying: “How are you, Stewart.” The absurd rebel haughtily refused it, saying: “I am General Stewart, of the Confederate army, and under the circumstances I decline to take your hand.” Hancock instantly replied: “And under any other circumstances, General, I should not have offered it.”

16 This oak stood inside of the Confederate intrenchments, near Spottsylvania Court-House. It was presented to the Secretary of War by the gallant General N. A. Miles, who commanded a brigade of Barlow's division of the Second Corps, in the battle on the 12th of May. This section of the tree is five feet six inches in height, and twenty-one inches in diameter at the place where it was cut in two.

17 The official report of the National losses, since the passage of the Rapid Anna to the close of the battle on the 12th of May, was as follows: Killed, 269 officers and 8,019 enlisted men; wounded, 1,017 officers and 18,261 men; missing, 177 officers and 6,667 men, mostly made prisoners, making a total of 29,410 men.

18 General Meade's address to his soldiers, May 18, 1864.

19 Grant spoke of the success of Hancock and the capture of prisoners, and said: “The enemy are obstinate, and seem to have found the ‘ last ditch.’ We have lost no organization, not even a company, while we have destroyed and captured one division (Johnson's), one brigade (Dobbs's), and one regiment entire, of the enemy.”

20 The official returns show that from the 12th until the 21st of May, when the Army of the Potomac moved from Spottsylvania Court-House, its losses were 10,381, making an aggregate of loss, since it crossed the Rapid Anna, of 39,791. The Confederate losses were never reported, but careful estimates make them over 80,000.

21 See page 27.

22 See page 24.

23 The dismounted men of the divisions of these leaders, and those whose horses were jaded, were left with the army to guard the trains.

24 In this region there are four small streams, named respectively Mat, Ta, Po, and Ny. These, combined, form the volume and the name of a larger stream, one of the chief affluents of the York River, called the Mat-ta-po-ny.

25 See page 118.

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