He had a full beard, which, like his hair, was brown, slightly tinged with gray.
He wore a slouched felt hat with a conical crown and a turned-down rim, which gave him a sort of Tyrolese appearance.
The two commanders entered Meade's quarters, sat down, lighted their cigars, and held a long interview regarding the approaching campaign.
I now learned that, two days before, the time had been definitely named at which the opening campaign was to begin, and that on the next Wednesday, May 4, the armies were to move.
Meade, in speaking of his troops, always referred to them as my people.
During this visit I had an opportunity to meet a number of old acquaintances whom I had not seen since I served with the Army of the Potomac on General McClellan's staff two years before.
After the interview had ended I returned with the general to headquarters, riding at a brisk trot.
His conversation now turned upon the commander of the Army of the Potomac, in the course of which he r
he rear, whose threats and overt acts often necessitated the withdrawal of troops from the front to hold them in check.
In all the circumstances, no just military critic will claim that the advantage was on the side of the Union army merely because it was numerically larger.
The campaign in Virginia was to begin by throwing the Army of the Potomac with all celerity to the south side of the Rapidan, below Lee's position.
The infantry moved a little after twelve o'clock in the morning of May 4.
The cavalry dashed forward in advance under cover of the night, drove in the enemy's pickets, secured Germanna Ford, and also Ely's Ford, six miles below, and before six o'clock in the morning had laid two pontoon-bridges at each place, and passed to the south side of the river.
Warren's corps crossed at Germanna Ford, followed by Sedgwick's, while Hancock's corps made the passage at Ely's Ford.
At 8 A. M. the general-in-chief, with his staff, started from headquarters, and set out for G
in favor of bold and vigorous advances, and he would have been the last man to counsel a retreat.
While at the mess-table taking our last meal before starting upon the march to the James on the evening of the 12th, the conversation turned upon the losses which had occurred and the reinforcements which had been received up to that time.
The figures then known did not differ much from those contained in the accurate official reports afterward compiled.
From the opening of the campaign, May 4, to the movement across the James, June 12, the total casualties in the Army of the Potomac, including Sheridan's cavalry and Burnside's command, had been: killed, 7621; wounded, 38,339; captured or missing, 8966; total, 54,926.
The services of all the men included in these figures were not, however, permanently lost to the army.
A number of them were prisoners who were afterward exchanged, and many had been only slightly wounded, and were soon ready for duty again.
Some were doubtless co
nces and information that could be obtained.
Now we will rest the men, and use the spade for their protection until a new vein can be struck. . ..
It was apparent in the recent engagements that the men had not attacked with the same vigor that they had displayed in the Wilderness campaign; but this was owing more to the change in their physical than in their moral condition.
They had moved incessantly both day and night, and had been engaged in skirmishing or in giving battle from the 4th of May to the 18th of June.
They had seen their veteran comrades fall on every side, and their places filled by inexperienced recruits, and many of the officers in whom they had unshaken confidence had been killed or wounded.
Officers had been in the saddle day and night, securing snatches of sleep for a few hours at a time as best they could.
Sleeping on horseback had become an art, and experienced riders had learned to brace themselves in their saddles, rest their hands on the pommel, and c
ent to Reams's Station to Wilson's relief, but did not reach there in time.
He rode out to the Petersburg front with his staff, held interviews with Meade, Burnside, and Smith, and visited the lines to make a personal inspection of the principal batteries.
He became impressed with the idea that more field-artillery could be used to advantage at several points, and when we returned to headquarters that evening he telegraphed to Washington for five or six additional batteries.
From the 4th of May until the end of June there had not been a day in which there was not a battle or a skirmish.
The record of continuous and desperate fighting had far surpassed any campaign in modern or ancient military history.
In view of the important operations which were to be conducted from City Point, General Grant made some changes in the organization of the staff.
General Rufus Ingalls, who had distinguished himself by the exhibition of signal ability as chief quartermaster of the Army of the
bent upon continuing the denunciation of Sherman before the public, I started for North Carolina to meet General Grant and inform him of the situation in Washington.
I passed him, however, on the way, and at once returned and rejoined him at Washington.
Hostilities were now brought rapidly to a close throughout the entire theater of war. April 11, Canby compelled the evacuation of Mobile.
By the 21st our troops had taken Selma, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, West Point, Columbus, and Macon.
May 4, Richard Taylor surrendered the Confederate forces east of the Mississippi.
May 10, Jefferson Davis was captured; and on the 26th Kirby Smith surrendered his command west of the Mississippi.
Since April 8, 1680 cannon had been captured, and 174,223 Confederate soldiers had been paroled.
There was no longer a rebel in arms, the Union cause had triumphed, slavery was abolished, and the National Government was again supreme.
The Army of the Potomac, Sheridan's cavalry, and Sherman's army