Chapter 12: operations against Richmond.
- Movements of the Army of the James, 317.
-- seizure of City Point and its vicinity, 318.
-- operations in Southeastern Virginia, 319.
-- Confederate troops called from Charleston to the defense of Petersburg and Richmond, 320.
-- events between Petersburg and Richmond, 321, 322.
-- Union cavalry raid under General Kautz, 323.
-- advance of the Army of the Potomac from Spottsylvania Court
-- House, 324.
-- the armies on the North Anna in a race for Richmond, 325.
-- battle of the North Anna, 326.
-- the armies across the Pamunkey, 327.
-- the National troops at Cool Arbor, 328.
-- battle of Cool Arbor, 329, 330.
-- Grant resolves to cross the James River, 331.
-- preparation for the crossing, 332.
-- the passage of the James, 333.
-- the defenses of Bermuda hundred, 334.
-- attempts to capture Petersburg, 335.
-- attack on the Petersburg lines, 336.
-- operations against Petersburg, 337.
-- seizure of the Weldon railway, 338.
-- condition of the Army of the Potomac, 339.
-- Butler secures a lodgment at Deep Bottom, 340.
were struggling in the vicinity of the Rapid Anna
, General Butler
, then in command of the Army of the James, was co-operating with the Army of the Potomac in accordance with a plan which he had proposed to the General-in-Chief
, and which that officer had approved.
That plan contemplated a vigorous movement against Richmond
on the south side of the James River
, the first objective being City Point
, at the mouth of the Appomattox River
orders accordingly, and directed General Butler
to move simultaneously with Meade
was well prepared for the execution of his part of the plan, when, at the beginning of May, he received orders to advance.
His effective force was about forty thousand men, and was composed chiefly of the Eighteenth Army Corps, commanded by General W. F. Smith
, and the Tenth Army Corps, which had lately been ordered from South Carolina
, led by General Gillmore
, who arrived at Fortress Monroe
on the 3d of May.
's first care was to mislead the Confederates
concerning his intentions.
For that purpose he first sent Henry
's brigade of New York troops to West Point
, at the head of York River
, to begin the construction of wharves,
while cavalry made a demonstration in the direction of Richmond
He also sent the bulk of his army in that direction as far as the old lines of McClellan1
and Gloucester Point
; and so successful was the
stratagem, that the Confederates
were satisfied that Butler
was about to move on Richmond
in the pathway trodden by McClellan
two years before,2
and they made preparations accordingly.
They were quickly undeceived, but not until it was too late to prevent the mischief wrought by the deception.
On the night of the 4th,
transports, sent up from Hampton Roads
, conveyed Butler
's army around to the James River
, and by dawn the next morning, artillery and infantry, to the number of thirty-five thousand men, accompanied by a squadron of war vessels, under Admiral Lee
, were rapidly ascending that stream for the purpose of seizing City Point
At the same time General A. V. Kautz
, with three thousand cavalry, moved out from Suffolk
, forced a passage over the Blackwater River
, and, pushing rapidly westward, struck the Weldon railway at Stony Creek
, some distance south of Petersburg
, and burned the bridge there; while Colonel Robert M. West
, with about eighteen hundred cavalry (mostly colored men), advanced from Williamsburg
up the north bank of the James River
, keeping parallel with the great flotilla of war vessels and transports on its bosom.
This expedition, and the advance of the Army of the Potomac from the north, were grand movements preliminary to another dreadful struggle for the possession of Richmond
in the vicinity of the Chickahominy River
— a region made forever memorable by the seven days battles there, in the summer of 1862.
The expedition moved so unexpectedly and rapidly up the river, that the Confederates
could make no effective dispositions for opposing it. Portions of Wilde
's brigade of negro troops were landed at Wilson
's wharf, on the north side of the river, and at Fort Powhatan, on the south side, thus securing and holding, for the protection of its navigation, important points at bends in the stream.
On the afternoon of the same day, Hink
's division landed at City Point
, and took possession without any opposition.
That night General Graham
captured the Confederate
signal-station near, and the war vessels moved up to a position above the mouth of the Appomattox
At the same time a heavy force landed upon an irregular triangle of land at the mouth of the Appomattox
, lying between it and the James River
, called Bermuda Hundred
, and proceeded to cast up a line of intrenchments across the western side of the camp from river to river, while gun-boats in both streams completely covered each flank of the position.
Thus, in the space of twenty-four hours, Butler
gained a commanding and important foothold within fifteen miles of Richmond
, in a straight line, and only about eight from Petersburg
The movement was a complete surprise to the Confederates
and produced great consternation at Richmond
In the mean time the armed vessels had been busy in keeping the river open, and they now engaged in the perilous work of fishing up torpedoes, with which, in places, its channel had been sown.
Notwithstanding the great precautions observed, one of the smaller gun-boats, named Commodore Jones
, was totally destroyed by the explosion of one of these mines under it,5
by which twenty of its officers and crew were killed, and forty-eight were wounded.
In the mean time Colonel West
, with his cavalry, had made his way across the Chickahominy
to the shore of the James
at Harrison's Landing
, and been taken thence, on transports, to Bermuda Hundred
A quick and vigorous movement upon Petersburg
at that time might have resulted in the capture of both cities, for very few Confederate troops appear to have then been in either place.
That fact was unknown by the Nationals, and a wise caution, rightfully exercised, caused a delay fatal to the speedy achievement of such victories, for strength was quickly imparted to both posts.
When the movement of Butler
and the arrival of Gillmore
with troops from Charleston harbor
was first known to the Confederates
was ordered to hasten from Charleston
to the latter place, with all possible dispatch, with the troops under his command there, others drawn from Georgia
, and such as he might gather in his passage through North Carolina
He instantly obeyed, and when General Kautz
struck the Weldon
road, as we have seen, he found these re-enforcements for Lee
passing over it. A large portion of them were left south of that cutting,6
but as Kautz
could not hold the road nor advance toward Petersburg
, he returned to City Point
leaving the Confederates
to make their way without further molestation.
was seriously threatened by Butler
's troops were there in strong force.
It was expected that General Butler
's movements, after he should gain a position on the south side of the James River
, and intrench it, should be governed much by those of the Army of the Potomac, with which he was acting as an auxiliary.
It was believed that the latter would march quickly from the Rapid Anna
to the lines before Richmond
, defeating Lee
, or driving him within the intrenchments at the Confederate
So soon as Butler
should hear the sounds of battle on the north side of the James
, in front of the beleaguered city, he was to move against it on the south side, and in perfect co-operation, and even junction, the two armies were thus to work together.
But the unexpected detention of the Army of the Potomac at The Wilderness, and at Spottsylvania Court-House, compelled Butler
to stand much on the defensive; and in the absence of orders to march on either Richmond
immediately after seizing City Point
and Bermuda Hundred
, he was forced to be governed by circumstances, and assume grave responsibilities.
He therefore resolved to do what he might
The Union Generals. |
to keep re-enforcements from reaching Lee
from the south; and his first effort for that purpose was to destroy the railway between Richmond
, lying at an average of about three miles from his line of intrenchments.
So early as the 6th,
he sent out General Heckman
to reconnoiter that road, and on the 7th five brigades, under General Brooks
, advanced upon the Port Walthall branch
of the railway, not far from the junction,7
and began its destruction.
They soon found a strong Confederate force, under D. H. Hill
, on their front, for, on the previous night, nearly all of Beauregard
's troops had reached Petersburg
Heavy skirmishing ensued, and the Nationals, after gaining some advantages, were.
compelled to withdraw, with a loss of about two hundred and fifty men.
Another advance upon the railway was made early on the morning of the 9th, by a force composed of the divisions of Generals Terry
, and Turner
, of the Tenth Corps, and of Weitzel
, of the Eighteenth. General Gillmore
commanded the right of the column, and General Smith
They struck the railway at different points, and destroyed it without molestation, and then, with Weitzel
in the advance, they moved on Petersburg
They were confronted by a heavy Confederate force at Swift Creek
, within three miles of that city, where a sharp action ensued.
The Confederates were driven across the stream; and that evening Butler
sent a dispatch to the Secretary of War
, saying, “Lieutenant-General Grant
will not be troubled with any further re-enforcements to Lee
And, encouraged by the success that day, Butler
determined to improve the advantages gained by driving the Confederates
across the Appomattox
, and, if possible, capture that place.
But that evening news came from Washington
, vanquished by Meade
, was in full retreat on Richmond
If so, he might quickly and heavily fall, with crushing force, on the Army of the James, so Butler
recalled his troops from.
, strengthened his lines, and prepared for active co-operation in an attack on Richmond
The story was not true.
On the 12th, Butler
pushed a heavy column northward, the right, under General Smith
, moving up the turnpike in the direction of Fort Darling
, on Drewry's Bluff
and the left, under General Gillmore
(who left General Ames
to watch the Confederates
), following the line of the railway further westward.
The Confederates fell back to, and across Proctor's Creek
, and took position upon a fortified line (outworks of Fort Darling
) behind it on the following morning. Gillmore
turned the right of that line and held it. The other column had pressed a well up toward the Confederate
left, and Generals Butler
made their quarters at the fine mansion of Dr. Friend
, less than nine miles from Richmond
Orders were given for a general attack the next morning
but the National
line was then so thin that the movement was thought too hazardous, and it was postponed until the morning of the 16th.
The Confederates, meanwhile, had prepared for a similar
movement at the same time.
was in command of them in per. son.
The evening of the 15th was still and clear, but after midnight, a heavy fog arose from the bosom of the James River
, and enveloped both armies.
Under cover of this and the darkness, before the dawn, Beauregard
advanced and aroused the slumbering Nationals
by a sudden and heavy fire of musketry and artillery.
The assailed were illy prepared for the unexpected attack, and presented on their right a weak point, which Beauregard
had discovered the evening before,
and now quickly took advantage of. Between that right and the river was a space of open country, for a mile, picketed by only about one hundred and fifty negro cavalry.
To turn that flank was Beauregard
's first care.
At the same time a division under General Whiting
was to move from the Richmond
road, strike Gillmore
heavily, and cut off the Union
line of retreat.
The plan, if fully carried out, would, it seemed, insure the capture or dispersion of Butler
's brigade, of Weitzel
's division, held Smith
After a gallant fight it was overwhelmed by the sudden and heavy blow, and the general was captured.
The Confederates gained the rear of that flank, and were pressing on to seize the road leading to Bermuda Hundred
, when the One Hundred and Twelfth New York, of Ames
's division, of Gillmore
's corps, which had been sent to Smith
, came up. Being at that instant joined by the Ninth Maine, the two regiments checked the assailants by such stubborn resistance, that the astonished Confederates, ignorant of the numbers on their front (for the fog was yet dense), first halted and then withdrew.
Meanwhile the front of Smith
's column and the right of Gillmore
's (the former held by the divisions of Brooks
) were fiercely attacked, but a repetition of the performance in front of Fort Sanders
, at Knoxville
made their repulse an easy task.
had caused the stretching of telegraph wire from stump to stump, a short distance above the ground, ill front of his line, which tripped the assailants when they charged, in the dense fog, and they were shot or bayoneted before they could rise.
They recoiled; and Whiting
, failing to obey Beauregard
's orders to seize the Union
way of retreat on the left, the plans of the Confederate
general entirely miscarried.
Seeing this, Beauregard
renewed his effort to turn Smith
's right, and so far succeeded, with a heavier force, as to cause that commander to fall back and form a new line, extending from the Half-Way House
on the turnpike, nine miles from Richmond
, almost to the river.
was compelled by this movement to fall back, and Beauregard
pressed the whole National line closely and heavily, with increasing numbers.
Perceiving the danger to his communications, Butler
withdrew his whole force within his lines at Bermuda Hundred
, when his antagonist
proceeded to cast up a line of intrenchments in front of and parallel to those of the Army of the James, at that place.
In the operations of the 16th, the Nationals lost about four thousand men, and the Confederates
a little over three thousand.
was now in an almost impregnable position, with the rivers on each flank at his command, and was about to strike a determined blow for the capture of Petersburg
, when he received orders to send nearly two-thirds of his effective men to the north side of the James
, to assist the army contending with Lee
in the vicinity of the Chickahominy
with the requisition which deprived him of all power to make further offensive movements, saying “the necessities of the Army of the Potomac have bottled me up at Bermuda Hundred
's main army was making movements toward Richmond
was out upon another raid on the railways leading to that city from the South and Southwest.
He left Bermuda Hundred
on the 12th of May, with two brigades,14
and passing near Fort Darling
, swept on the are of a circle by Chesterfield Court-House and struck the Richmond and Danville railway, at Coalfield Station, eleven miles west of the Confederate
He struck it again at Powhatan
; menaced the railway bridge over the Appomattox
, which was strongly guarded; swept around eastward, and struck the road again at Chula Station; and then, with a part of his command he crossed to the Southside railway at White
and Black Station, while the remainder went on to the junction of the Danville
and Southside roads. All now turned eastward, moving down far toward the North Carolina
line, crossing the Weldon
road and destroying it at Jarratt's Station, south of the scene of their devastations a few days before, and passing by Prince George's Court-House, returned to City Point
on the 17th.
had seriously damaged the railways that lay in his track, skirmished sharply at many places, and took to City Point
one hundred and fifty prisoners, of whom thirteen were officers.
had perfected his batteries in front of Butler
's lines at Bermuda Hundred
, he opened their fire upon the Nationals,
and pressed their picket line heavily.
This was repeated the next morning, and under cover of these guns the Confederates
assailed the advance of the divisions of Generals Ames
The pickets of the former were driven from their rifle-pits, and the line of the latter was
forced back; but the rifle-pits were soon recovered by a brigade under Colonel Howell
, after heavy fighting and much loss on both sides.
The attack was renewed on the following day, with no better success, when Beauregard
ceased all attempts to dislodge Butler
Two or three days later, Fitzhugh Lee
, with a considerable body of Confederate cavalry,
attacked the post at Wilson's Wharf, then held by two regiments of negro troops, under General Wilde
After being three times repulsed, Lee
Operations of greater magnitude and importance nearer Richmond
Let us consider them.
We left the Army of the Potomac at Spottsylvania Court-House, about to resume its march toward Richmond
It was then disencumbered of its twenty thousand sick and wounded men, who were taken to the hospitals at Washington
and elsewhere, and-of about eight thousand prisoners who had been sent to the rear.
At the same time twenty-five thousand veteran recruits, with ample supplies, were on their way to join the army, and full thirty thousand volunteers, recruited for one hundred days service, had been mustered in. It was under these favorable auspices that the Army of the Potomac began another flank and forward movement on the night of the 20th and 21st of May.
It was begun by Hancock
's corps, which, at midnight, moved eastward to Mattaponax Church, and then turned southward, with Torbert
's cavalry in advance.
, anticipating the movement, was very vigilant, and Longstreet
's corps was put in motion southward immediately after Hancock
followed the latter on the morning of the 2 1st, when Ewell
marched in the track of Longstreet
Then began another exciting race of the two great carnies, the immediate goal being the North Anna River
The Confederates had the more direct
and better way, for the Nationals, in order to flank the former, were compelled to make a more circuitous march over indifferent roads.
The departure of the corps of Hancock
(Second and Fifth), left those of Wright
(Sixth and Ninth) at Spottsylvania Court-House, where they were confronted by A. P. Hill
's left on the afternoon of the 21st, after a sortie, as a covering movement, by General Ledlie
's brigade of Crittenden
's division, and Wright
's was preparing to follow, when it was attacked by Hill
's. The assailants were easily repulsed, and that night the works at Spottsylvania Court-House were abandoned by both parties, and the entire army of each was moving as rapidly as possible toward the North Anna
had captured Guiney's Station, on the Richmond and Fredericksburg railway, on the night of the 20th and 21st, without very serious opposition, and opened the way for the army, which reached the North Anna
on the morning of the 23d, at three fords, known respectively as Island, Jericho
, and Chesterfield
, or Taylor's Bridge
— the latter near where the Richmond and Fredericksburg railway crosses that river.
, marching by the shorter route, had outstripped his antagonist in the race, and was found strongly posted and intrenched on the opposite side of the North Anna
, in close communication with the Virginia Central railway, over which Breckinridge
, who had beaten Sigel
in the Shenandoah Valley,18
was hastening with re-enforcements.
had evidently determined to make a stand.
took immediate measures to dislodge him. His left, under Hancock
, was at the Chesterfield bridge
, a mile above the railway crossing.
was at Jericho Ford, four miles above, where no formidable opposition appeared, for Lee
was engaged in holding the more important passage in front of Hancock
prepared to cross and take the Confederates
's brigade waded the stream, armpit deep, and formed a battle-line to cover the construction of a pontoon bridge.
This was quickly done, and early that afternoon the whole of Warren
's corps passed over to the south side of the river, and formed a line of battle.
's division was on the right, Griffin
's in the center, and Crawford
's on the left.
They took position at a piece of woods, where, at five o'clock, the divisions of Heth
, of Hill
's corps, fell upon Griffin
They were repulsed, when three Confederate brigades, under General Brown
, struck Cutler
's division a sudden blow, which threw it into confusion and uncovered Griffin
The Confederates pushed quickly forward to attack it, but the danger was avoided by a refusal of that flank.
was hurried to its support, and in that movement a volley of musketry, given at close quarters by the Eighty-third Pennsylvania,19 Lieutenant-Colonel McCoy
, on the flank and rear of the Confederates
, threw them into utter disorder, and caused.
their rout, with a loss of their leader and almost a thousand men made prisoners.
In this encounter Warren
lost three hundred and fifty men. He then proceeded to establish a line and intrench it, without further resistance.
, in the mean time, had been preparing to force, a passage of the stream at Chesterfield bridge, where he was confronted by McLaws
's division of Longstreet
These troops were mostly on the south side of the river, but held a tete-du-pont
, or bridge-head battery of redan form, on a tongue of land on the north side.
This, after a brief cannonade by three sections of field-pieces, planted by Colonel Tidball
, the chief of artillery
, was stormed and carried at six o'clock in the evening by the brigades of Pierce
, of Birney
They lost one hundred and fifty men, and captured thirty of the garrison.
That night the Confederates
tried in vain to: burn the bridge; and before morning they abandoned their advanced works on the south side of the stream, and withdrew to a stronger position a little in the rear.
passed over the bridge in the morning
which his troops had preserved, without feeling the enemy, and at the same time Wright
's corps crossed the river at Jericho Ford, and joined Warren
The Army of the Potomac was now in peril.
Its two powerful wings were on one side of a stream, difficult at all times to cross, and liable to a sudden increase of volume, by rains, while the weaker center was on the other side.
Its antagonist was disposed in a blunt wedge-form, with its chief strength at the point, for the purpose of severing the National
had thrown back the two wings of his
Position on the North Anna.|
army, the left resting on Little River
; and the right, covering Sexton
's junction of the two railways running into Richmond
, rested on the marshes of Hanover
The powerful center, at the point of the wedge, was near the river, and menaced Grant
And so it was, that when Burnside
's, (Ninth) corps, of that center, attempted to cross between the two wings of the Army of the Potomac, his advance division (Crittenden
's) was quickly met, and repulsed with heavy loss.
And when Warren
, on the right, attempted to connect with Burnside
, by sending Crawford
's division in that direction,, an overwhelming force fell upon him with almost fatal weight.
paused, and for more than two days he studied the position of his adversary, and came to the conclusion that Lee
could be dislodged only by a flanking movement, which he proceeded to make.
He secretly recrossed the river on the night of the 26th,
and going well east-ward, so as to avoid a blow on his flank, resumed his march toward Richmond
, his objective being the passage of the Pamunkey
, one of the affluents of the York
, formed by the junction of the North and South
rivers, which would force Lee
to abandon the line of those streams, and give to the Army of the Potomac an admirable water base of supplies, at White House
, who, as we have seen,21
had just returned
to the army after his great raid toward Richmond
and across the head of the Peninsula
, now led the flanking column with two divisions of cavalry, immediately followed by Wright
's corps, leading Warren
's and Burnside
's remained on the North Anna
to cover the rear, at which time the head of the column, after y a march of more than twenty miles, was approaching the Pamunkey
, about fifteen miles from Richmond
's corps crossed that stream at once, and early on Saturday, the 28th,
the whole army was south of the Pamunkey
, and in communication with its new base at White House
's movement summoned Lee
to another compulsory abandonment of a strong position, and he again fell back toward Richmond
Having, as usual, the shorter and better way, he was already in a good position to confront the Army of the Potomac before it had reached the Pamunkey
He had taken a stand to cover both railways and the chief highways leading into Richmond
, and to dispute the passage of the Chickahominy
The only direct pathway to the Confederate
capital, for the Army of the Potomac, was across the Chickahominy
Before its passage could be effected, Lee
must be dislodged, and to that task Grant
now addressed themselves.
Reconnoissances to ascertain the strength and exact position of the Confederate army, were put in motion.
was sent out southward on the afternoon of the 28th, with the brigades of Davis
, and Custer
's store, not far from the Tolopatomoy Creek
, they encountered and vanquished cavalry under Hampton
and Fitzhugh Lee
. Both parties were dismounted and fought desperately.
The Confederates lost nearly eight hundred men, and the Nationals about one half that number.
This success inspirited the army, and it was followed by a reconnoissance in force,
in which Wright
moved on Hanover Court-House; Hancock
marched from Hawes
's store in the same direction; Warren
pushed out toward Bethesda Church, and Burnside
held a position to assist either Hancock
The right and rear were covered by Wilson
This movement quickly developed Lee
's position, which was in front of the Chickahominy
, and covering the railway from well up toward Hanover Court-House, southward to Shady Grove
and the Mechanicsville pike
, with pickets toward Bethesda Church.
reached Hanover Court-House without much opposition, but the march of both Hancock
by strong forces in advance of Lee
The former was checked at Tolopatomoy Creek, after a sharp encounter, by intrenched troops; and the latter encountered Rodes
's division of Ewell
's corps, with cavalry, reconnoitering near Bethesda Church.
These struck the flank of Colonel
's brigade, of the Pennsylvania Reserves, and compelled it to fall back to the Shady Grove
road, when General Crawford
brought up the remainder of the Reserves, and Kitching's brigade, and effectively repulsed an impetuous assault by Rodes
, who attempted to turn Warren
This repulse enabled the Nationals to establish the left of their line on the Mechanicsville pike
, not much more than seven miles from Richmond
To relieve General Warren
, when first assailed by Rodes
had ordered an attack along the whole line.
received the order in time to act before dark.
He moved forward, drove the Confederate
pickets, and captured and held their rifle-pits.
had formed on the left of Hancock
on his right; while Lee
strengthened his own right, now menaced by Warren
was now satisfied that he would be compelled to force the passage of the Chickahominy River
, and he was equally satisfied that it would be folly to make a direct attack upon Lee
So he planned a flank movement, and prepared to cross the Chickahominy
's right, not far from Cool Arbor,22
where roads leading to Richmond
, White House
, and other points diverged.
That important point was seized by Sheridan
on the afternoon of the 31st, after a sharp contest with Fitzhugh Lee
's cavalry and Clingman
's infantry; and toward it Wright
's corps, moving from the right of the army, in its rear, marched that night, unobserved by the enemy, and reached it the next day.
At the same time, and toward the same place, a large body of troops under General W. F. Smith
, which had been called from the Army of the James at Bermuda Hundred
, were moving, and arrived at Cool Arbor just after Wright
's corps reached that place, and took position on the right of the latter.
had left Bermuda Hundred
on the 29th, with four divisions of the Tenth and Eighteenth Corps, sixteen thousand in number, which had been taken in transports around to White House
The two armies were now upon the old battle-field of Lee
two years before.
The Confederate line, which had just been re-enforced by troops under Breckinridge
, extended, with its cavalry on its flanks, a short distance from Hanover Court-House, down nearly to Bottom's Bridge. A. P. Hill
's corps occupied its right, Longstreet
's its center, and Ewell
's its left.
On the morning of the first of June, an attempt was made by Hoke
's division to retake Cool Arbor.
had been ordered to hold it at all hazards, and he did so. His men dismounted, and fought desperately with their carbines.
The assailants were repulsed, but were quickly re-enforced by McLaws
's corps arrived in time to meet this new danger; and when, at three o'clock in the afternoon, General Smith
came up, after a march of twenty-five miles,23
he was met by an order to form on the right of. the Sixth Corps,24
then in front of Cool Arbor, on the road leading to Gaines's Mill
, and co-operate in an immediate attack upon the Confederates
These were now in heavy force and in. battle order, in that vicinity, for when Lee
discovered the withdrawal of the Sixth Corps from Grant
's right, he suspected its destination, and had sent the whole of Longstreet
's corps to strengthen his own right, which was then partially concealed by thick woods.
Between the two armies was a broad, open, gently undulating field, and a thin line of woods, beyond which, and in front of the thicker forest, the Confederates
had lines of rifle trenches.
Over this open field the Nationals advanced
at four o'clock, with great spirit, the veterans of Smith
seemingly unmindful of their fatigue, and in the face of a murderous fire, quickly captured nearly the whole of the first line of rifle trenches and about six hundred men. They pushed on and assailed the second and much stronger line, but the Confederates
gallantly held it until night fell and the struggle ceased.
In these desperate encounters, the Nationals lost full two thousand men, but they held the ground they had gained, and bivouacked upon it that night, partly in the shelter of the thin wood, where some of the troops constructed rude bullet-proofs, that they might repose in safety.
But they found little opportunity even for rest, for during the night the Confederates
made desperate efforts to retake the lost rifle trenches, and greatly annoyed the troops by an enfilading fire.
The assailants were repulsed; and the result of the day's work on
A bullet-proof in the woods.|
the part of the Nationals was the firm occupation of Cool Arbor, which commanded the road to White House
, and was the chosen place from which to force a passage of the Chickahominy
That night Grant
ordered important but dangerous movements.
was directed to move from the right, and take position on the left of the Sixth Corps, at Cool Arbor.
was ordered to extend his line to the left, from Bethesda Church, so as to connect with Smith
; and Burnside
was withdrawn entirely from the front to the right and rear of Warren
These movements were nearly all accomplished, but not without some trouble and loss.
The Confederates observed that of Burnside
, which took place on the afternoon of the 2d, and following up his covering skirmishers, captured some of them.
Then striking Warren
's flank they took four hundred of his men prisoners.
But so satisfactory were all arrangements that night,
, then at Cool Arbor, determined to attempt to force the passage of the Chickahominy
the next day, and compel Lee
to seek shelter within the fortifications around Richmond
was now holding almost the position of Lee
in the battle of Gaines's Mill
two years before, and Lee
had the place of McClellan
on that occasion.
At dawn on the morning of the 3d, the National
army was in battle order, Hancock
's corps on the Dispatch Station road on the left, the Sixth next, Smith
's command adjoining these, and Warren
on the right, extending to the Tolopatomoy Creek
's cavalry were on the right flank, and Sheridan
's were holding the lower crossings of the Chickahominy
, and covering the roads to White House
Orders had been given for a general assault along the whole lines, at half-past 4.
A few minutes later the signal for advance was given, and then opened one of the most sanguinary battles of the war. The Confederates were equally ready, equally brave, and equally determined to gain a victory.
Swiftly the Nationals advanced to the attack.
On the right it was made by the divisions of Barlow
, of Hancock
's corps, that of Birney
drove the Confederates
from a strong position in a sunken road, in front of their works, captured several hundred prisoners, a battle-flag, and three guns, and turning the latter upon his foes, sent them back in confusion.
Battle of Cool Arbor.|
But, before Barlow
's second line reached the front, the Confederates
rallied in stronger force, and retook the position from which they had been pushed.
was driven back about fifty yards, when he so speedily covered his front, that he could not be dislodged.
, who charged at the same time, at the right of Barlow
, was checked by a marsh of the Chickahominy
, which partly separated and weakened his command.
A part of them gained the Confederate
planted the National
flag on their intrenchments; but a moment afterward he fell, mortally wounded.
's troops did not hold any part of the Confederate
works; yet some of them intrenched themselves so close to them, that they could not well be reached, nor could they get away, excepting under the cover of fog or thick darkness.
In these assaults Hancock
lost about three thousand men.
's command and the Sixth Corps were heavily engaged at the same time; and on the extreme right, Wilson
's cavalry had a sharp fight with Hampton
's, without any decisive results.
's corps was too extended to allow him to do more than to hold his line intact, while Burnside
brought two divisions of the Ninth to bear upon the left of Lee
These were hotly engaged, and would doubtless have vanquished their adversaries on that part of the field, had not the assault quickly ceased along the front.
The battle had been “quick, sharp, and decisive.”
had been repulsed, at nearly every point, with great slaughter.
It was estimated that within twenty minutes after the struggle began, ten
thousand Union men lay dead or wounded on the field, while the Confederates
, sheltered by their works, had not lost more than one thousand.
A consciousness now pervaded the mind of every soldier that further attempts to force the Confederate
lines would be useless; and upon this impression they acted with marvelous unanimity, when, some hours later, General Meade
sent orders to each corps commander to again attack, without regard to the doings of other corps.
The whole army, as if controlled by a single will, refused to stir
! And so, at one o'clock in the afternoon, the battle of Cool Arbor
was ended in a dreadful loss of life to the Nationals, but of nothing else, for they held their position firmly, with all their munitions of war.26
now resolved to transfer his army to the south side of the James River
, and by this grand flank movement, to cut off the chief sources of supplies of men
View on Cool Arbor battle-ground.27|
and provisions for Lee
's army from the south and southwest, and compel its surrender.
His prime object, as we have observed, had been the destruction of that army, by capture or dispersion.
He had hoped to accomplish that
object north of Richmond
, but had failed to do so. He was disappointed, but not disheartened, by his failure and his enormous losses, which were to Lee
's as three to one;28
and he proceeded to carry out, as far as possible, the remainder of his original design.29
He had seriously crippled his adversary, who lacked means for recuperation, and he now determined to starve him into submission.
Having considered all the contingencies incident to the bold movement of throwing his army to the south side of the James
, he feared no mischief from it, but anticipated much benefit.
On the day after the battle, Grant
caused slight intrenchments to be thrown up in front of his line, and that night the Confederates
made a furious assault on; that front, but were quickly repulsed at every point.
On the following day an assault was made on the National
's brigade, of Hancock
's corps), with the same result.
Meanwhile the army, preparatory to its march to the James
, was gradually moved toward the left by the withdrawal of corps in that direction; and on the night of the 6th,
a sharp but unsuccessful assault was made upon the right, then held by Burnside
On the following morning there was a brief armistice, for the purpose of gathering up the dead between the two lines, which had lain there four days; and before night Grant
's line was extended to the Chickahominy
, and Sheridan
was dispatched, with two divisions of cavalry, to more effectually destroy the railways in Lee
's rear, and render Washington
He struck and broke the Richmond
road at Chesterfield Station, and then, pushing across the upper branches of the North Anna
, smote the Virginia Central railway at Trevilian's Station, where he expected the co-operation of General Hunter
That leader, as we have seen,31
was at Staunton
, and Sheridan
was left to deal, alone, with the gathering Confederates on the railway.
's he encountered and routed some horsemen under Hampton
, and then destroyed the road almost to Louisa Court-House, where he was attacked by a much larger force.
After a contest, he was compelled to retrace his steps to Trevilian
's, where he fought a sanguinary battle, and then withdrew.
He swept around, by Spottsylvania Court-House and Guiney's Station, to White House
, and rejoined Grant
's army, having lost during his raid over seven hundred men, and captured nearly four
He inflicted a loss of men upon the Confederates
quite equal to his own. Among their killed was the active General Rosser
continued moving slowly to the left, and keeping up the appearance of an intention to cross the Chickahominy
and march on Richmond
, until the evening of the 12th,
when every thing was in readiness for the army to move to the James
was abandoned as a base of supplies; the rails and ties of the York River railway leading from it to Richmond
were taken up and sent in barges to City Point
, and the command of General Smith
was re-embarked at the head of the York
, and sent back by water to Bermuda Hundred
Then the Army of the Potomac moved.
's corps, preceded by Wilson
's cavalry,. forced the passage of the Chickahominy
at Long Bridge
with very little trouble, and made demonstrations in the direction of Richmond
, to mask the real movements of the army.
across the stream, and marched directly to Wilcox's Wharf, on the James
, below Harrison's Landing
, between Charles City Court-House and Westover
where he was ferried across.
crossed the Chickahominy
's. bridge, lower down; while the trains, for greater safety, took a route still further east, and crossed at Coles's Ferry.
discovered the withdrawal of his antagonist from his front on the morning of the 13th; but finding Warren
across the Chickahominy
, and on the road leading through White Oak Swamp
, he concluded that Grant
was about to march by that route upon the Confederate
With this impression, he retired to the fortifications of that city, while Grant
's army was making a rapid journey in another direction.
quickly followed the Nationals, and on the night of the 14th,
a pontoon bridge, more than two thousand feet in length, was thrown across the James River
, at Douthard's,33
a little below Wilcox
's, over which the entire remainder of the army had passed before noon of the 16th, with very little molestation by the enemy, and was moving sin the direction of Petersburg
Grand meanwhile, had gone up to City Point
, and there, upon the beautiful
elevated grounds of Dr. Eppes
, near the junction of the Appomatox
and the James
, he established his Headquarters.
determined to throw Meade
's army to the south side of the James
, he hastened to Butler
's Headquarters for the purpose of arranging a plan of co-operation from Bermuda Hundred
, against Petersburg
the possession of which would be of vast importance as a point d'appui, or fixed place for the forming of troops for chief operations against Richmond
's line of works, erected under the direction of General Weitzel
, were then perfected, and were not surpassed, in completeness
for defensive operations by any made during the war. His position was almost impregnable; yet, while Smith
was absent with a greater portion of the Army of the James, he was too weak to attempt formidable offensive movements.
It was for this reason that Smith
was so quickly sent back to Bermuda hundred
, as we have observed.37
in the mean.
endeavored to do what he might in furtherance of Grant
's plans, and on the 10th of June he sent three thousand five hundred infantry, under Gillmore
, and fifteen hundred cavalry, under Kautz
, against Petersburg
At the same time two gun-boats were sent up the Appomattox
, to co-operate with a battery in bombarding an earthwork a little below Petersburg
, called Fort Clinton
These combinations were well arranged.
The troops crossed the Appomattox
at Point of Rocks
, four miles above City Point
marched up the turnpike, while Kautz
made a little circuit, so as to strike the City
from the south.
The former found no resistance until he was within two or three miles of Petersburg
He had easily driven in the Confederate
skirmish line; but at the outer works of the defenses of Petersburg
, already thrown up, he first halted, and then fell back to his camp, with the impression that his force was inadequate for the task assigned him. Kautz
, meanwhile, had performed his part of the drama.
While a greater portion of the defenders of Petersburg
were watching Gillmore
, he dashed into the City
at about the time when the latter fell back, when the Confederates
, relieved of danger from the column, fell upon Kautz
in force, and drove him from the town and its defenses.
five days later, the attempt to capture Petersburg
When the Army of the Potomac began its passage of the James
went to Bermuda hundred
, and finding the van of Lee
's Army, under A. P. Hill
, already on the south side of the River
, near Fort Darling
, and ready to act in co-operation with Beauregard
, he directed Butler
to send General Smith
and his command immediately across the Appomattox
, and in conjunction with Gillmore
, make another attempt upon Petersburg
He was so well satisfied that such attempt, if vigorously made, would be successful, that he looked for the possession of that City by the Army of the Potomac, within the space of three days, as a certainty.
arrived at Bermuda hundred
on the night of the 14th.
His troops, having rested on the transports, were fresh; and early the next morning,
they crossed the Appomattox
on a pontoon bridge, and before noon were in front of the defenses of Petersburg
, northeastward of the City
The troops had marched in three columns.
had kept well to the left, and threatened the defenses of the Petersburg
and Norfolk railway.
led the center, and Martindale
On the way General Hinks
, with his negro brigade, had carried advanced rifle-pits and captured two. Guns; and the whole column was inspirited with the expectation of a quick and easy victory.
But this exultation was diminished when a reconnoissance revealed the fact that there was a strong line of works on their front, the guns of which swept the ditches and ravines, which cut a broad valley in various directions, over which the Nationals must pass to the assault.
paused. He did not then know how few and inferior were the soldiers behind the works he was facing, and it was nearly sunset before his cautious preparations for assault were completed.
Then a part of his troops, under Martindale
, and Hinks
, forming a heavy skirmish line, pressed forward, and at seven o'clock in the evening drove the Confederates
from their formidable line of rifle-pits.
Pushing on, they soon captured a powerful salient, four redoubts, and a connecting line of intrenchments along
distance of two and a half miles. With these they took fifteen guns, and made three hundred men prisoners.
Meanwhile, two divisions of Hancock
's Corps had come up and joined Smith
when the united forces were ordered to rest upon their arms within the works just captured.
thought it more prudent to hold what he had obtained, than to risk all by attempting to gain more.39
so, during the calm hours that succeeded, the nearly full moon shining brightly until past midnight, the assailants reposed, while nearly the whole of Lee
's Army was crossing the James
to the south front of Richmond
, and troops were streaming down toward Petersburg
and into the lines around it. There, in a few hours, these worked wonders, and on the following morning
there was a startling apparition of a new line of works around the City
, with a cloud of veterans deployed in battle order behind them.
The prize so much coveted by Grant
Twenty-four hours before, Petersburg
might have been easily taken;40
now it defied its foes, and continued to do so during a most distressing siege of about ten months from that time.
That delay of twelve hours--whether wise or unwise let the reader judge — was the turning-point in the campaign.
and now, at the middle of June, a large portion of the Army of Northern Virginia were in Petersburg
, and within the lines in front of it, or were on their way and near by; and that evening
the greater part of the Army of the Potomac, with the command of Smith
on its right, resting on the Appomattox
, confronted the Confederates
had gone to the front at an early hour that day, and ascertaining the state of affairs, was returning to City Point
, when he met General Meade
on the road, and directed him to post his Army as quickly as possible, and at six o'clock that evening open fire on the Confederate
It was expected that Burnside
would join Smith
by that time.
He did so. The bombardment was opened at the appointed hour, and was kept up, with varying intensity, until six o'clock in the morning.
The result of the fearful combat on that warm June night was a General advance of the National lines
, but at a serious cost to the Corps
, of the former, stormed and carried the ridge on its front.
could make no impression during the night, and was kept at bay by a murderous fire; but at dawn General Potter
's division made a desperate charge upon the works in front of the Ninth Corps, carried them, and captured four guns and four hundred prisoners. His division was at once relieved by General Ledlie
which advanced to within a mile and a half of the City
, and held a position from which shells could be thrown into the town.
This menacing projection of Burnside
's line was furiously attacked that night, and the National
troops were driven back with great loss.
At other points they were repulsed.
Their loss much exceeded that of the Confederates
the danger threatening the Petersburg lines
having drawn a large portion of the troops from Butler
's front, that officer sent out General Terry
on the same day,
to force Beauregard
's lines, and destroy and hold, if possible, the railway in that vicinity.
easily passed through those lines, and reached the road without much opposition, and was proceeding to destroy the track, when he was attacked by Pickett
's division of Longstreet
's Corps, then on its way from the Virginia
capital to the beleaguered City.41 Smith
's Corps (Eighteenth) having been relieved by the Sixth, was sent by Grant
to aid Butler
, in the event of an exigency such as had now occurred; but it arrived too late to assist Terry
, and the latter, after a sharp engagement, was driven back to the defenses of Bermuda hundred
, when the Confederate
works in front of them were at once heavily garrisoned.
on the morning of the 17th, the Second and Ninth Corps renewed the attack upon the works before Petersburg
, when the Hill
upon which Fort Steadman was afterward built, was carried and held by the former Corps.
Another attack was made by the Ninth in the afternoon, when the battle that ensued continued until night, with great slaughter, in which Barlow
's division suffered most severely.
was sent to Burnside
He became entangled in the ravines, and could do but little.
He penetrated the Confederate
lines, however, and brought away a number of prisoners.
Several times during the day, desperate but unsuccessful attempts were made to recapture what the Nationals had seized, and that night a heavy force drove back the Ninth Corps.
impressed with the belief that much of Lee
's Army yet remained near Richmond
, and hoping to capture Petersburg
before that Army should all be upon his front, Grant
ordered a General assault along the entire chain of works before him, on the morning of the 18th.42
at dawn it was discovered that the Confederates
had abandoned their broken and imperiled line at their front, and had taken a new and stronger position on an inner line, which had been constructed with the best engineering skill (and none was better) that Lee
This change compelled Grant
to readjust his own lines for attack, which delayed an advance until afternoon.
The attack which followed resulted in disaster to the Nationals, who were repulsed at every Point.
's division gained any success.
That carried the Confederate
skirmish line on its front, and made a few prisoners.
and now, after a loss of nearly ten thousand men, further attempts to take the Confederate
lines by storm were abandoned for awhile.
It was evident to the Lieutenant-General
that the bulk of Lee
's Army was behind them, and he prepared for a regular siege of them.
He at once began intrenching, and to extend his left in the direction of the Petersburg and Weldon railway, which he desired to seize, and thus envelop Petersburg
with his Army.
The Corps of Hancock43
stealthily to the left, for the purpose of turning the Confederate
right; but when the former, moving in the advance, reached the Jerusalem plank road, between the Norfolk
railways, it was met by a Confederate force, and pushed back to a position where it connected with the Fifth Corps.
On the following morning
both Corps (Second and Sixth) advanced together, and were maneuvering to turn the works, when a division of the command of A. P. Hill
, who had been keenly watching the movements of the Nationals, suddenly projected itself between Wright
's commands, and in rapid succession struck the flanks of the divisions of Barlow
, and Gibbon
, rolling them up and driving them back with heavy loss.
's Corps was considerably shocked by a blow, at the same time, by another of Hill
Both Corps soon recovered and re-formed, and a fierce attack on the brigade of the ever-gallant General miles, of the Second, was repulsed.
came up at about that time, and just at sunset he ordered both Corps to advance and retake what they had lost.
, unsupported, suddenly withdrew, carrying with him Twenty-five hundred prisoners. Nearly all the lost ground was recovered.
on the following morning the Second and Sixth Corps again advanced, and reached the Weldon
road without much opposition; but three regiments in the van had scarcely begun the destruction of the track, when they were suddenly attacked by a part of Hill
's Corps, and were driven back upon the main line with the loss of many of their number made prisoners.
road had now been reached; but the result of the movements thus far was little more than an extension of the Union
line to the left, at a cost of about four thousand men, chiefly made captives.
meanwhile, a cavalry expedition, eight thousand strong, under Generals Kautz
, had been sent out to operate upon the railways leading southward from Petersburg
The latter was in chief command.
They destroyed the railway buildings at Reams's Station, ten miles south of Petersburg
, and the track for a long distance, and then pushed on to the Southside railway at Ford's Station, fifteen miles from Petersburg
, and destroyed it to Nottaway Station, over a space of Twenty-two miles. There they fought and defeated a brigade of Virginia
and North Carolina cavalry, under Fitzhugh Lee
then pushed on to Burke's Station, at the junction of the Southside
railways, tore up both roads, and, pushing southward along the latter, was joined by Wilson
at Meherrin Station.
the united forces then destroyed the road to the Staunton River
, when the rapid gathering of the armed and mounted men in that region caused them to turn back.
They were compelled
to fight their way to Reams's Station, on the Weldon
road, which they expected to find in the possession of the Nationals.
On the contrary, the cavalry of Hampton
, and infantry under Mahone
were there in great strength.
In attempting to force their lines, Wilson
were defeated with heavy loss, and with difficulty they made their way back to the Army before Petersburg
, with the men and horses of their terribly shattered columns nearly exhausted.44
no other raid in the rear of the Confederates
was undertaken for several months after the return of this one.
It was too dangerous and expensive a service, under the circumstances, to be made profitable.
and now, after a sanguinary struggle for two months, both armies were willing to have a little repose, and there was a lull in the active operations of the campaign, excepting what pertained to intrenching.
The Union Army thus investing Petersburg
, at which Point Richmond
, Twenty miles distant, was best defended, had lost, within eight or nine weeks, nearly seventy thousand men. Re-enforcements had kept up its numbers, but not the
quality of its materials.
Many veterans remained; but a vast portion of the Army was composed, if not of entirely raw troops, of those who had been little disciplined, and in a great degree lacked the buoyant spirit of the early
Army of the Potomac, when led by McClellan
It was now in front of a formidable line of redans, redoubts, and infantry parapets, with the outer defenses of abatis, stakes, and chevaux-de-frise, constructed by skillfully-directed labor.
This line was nearly forty miles in length, extending from the left bank of the Appomattox
, around the western side of Petersburg
, and so on to and across the James
, to the northeastern side of Richmond
To menace that line, and to keep the defenders within it, required an equally extended and strong line, and this was speedily provided.
Re-enforcements swelled the weakened ranks of the Nationals, and strong works were cast up along the front of the whole Confederate line, from the Weldon
road to the region of the Chickahominy
on the night of the 20th of June, Butler
, by one of his prompt movements, had thrown the brigade of General Foster
across the James River
at Deep Bottom
, where he formed an intrenched Camp; and this post, within ten miles of Richmond
, was immediately connected with the Army at Bermuda hundred
by a pontoon bridge, represented in the engraving on the preceding page.
's (Eighteenth) corps was transferred to Bermuda hundred
, and thenceforth served with the Army of the James a greater part of the time during the siege.
The lodgment of Foster
, and the laying of the pontoon bridge at Deep Bottom
, provided a way for Grant
to move heavy masses quickly to the north side of the James
, if desired.
This advantage was perceived by Lee
, who met it by laying a similar bridge across the River
at Drewry's Bluff
, by which he could make countervailing movements.
By the close of July, a greater portion of that wonderful network of fortifications in front of Petersburg
, which commanded the admiration of visitors, was nearly completed, and the Lieutenant-General
was in a position to choose his method of warfare, whether by a direct assault, the slower process of a regular siege, or by heavy operations on the flanks of the Confederates
tail-pieces — Camp Stool.|