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Edwin McMasters Stanton (search for this): chapter 20
Chapter 19: Grant's overland campaign against Richmond Army of the Potomac Crosses the Rappahannock battles in the Wilderness Dana at scene of action despatches to Stanton advance to Cold Harbor abortive battles Crosses Chickahominy South of the James counter-movement against Washington The winter and spring of 1864, in Washington, constituted a most interesting period. While the Confederacy had received its death-blows at Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Missionary Ridge, theto that end every resource of the government was placed at the disposal of Grant. The forward movement in Virginia began on May 4th, with an effective force of one hundred and twenty thousand men, and only two days after that the desire of both Stanton and Lincoln for the fullest details of the marches and battles became irresistible. Grant, who was habitually reticent, had no time for details, and hence they sent for Dana, who was found at a reception, but who made haste to present himself,
the second and third days, had finally declared that no more assaults should be made, and that he would now maneuver. It also appeared that Sheridan's attempt to destroy the railroads north of Richmond had not been entirely successful, and that Ewell's corps had gone to Lynchburg. In his despatch of June 20th Dana says, Meade is ordered to devote himself to swinging his army around upon the south and southwest of Petersburg, with the view of cutting both the Weldon and Lynchburg railroads, ageneral plan to the end, and that Lee, for nearly ten months, or till his right flank was finally turned, beaten, and driven back at Five Forks, succeeded in defeating every movement and combination to carry it into effect. Lee's detachment of Ewell, also mentioned for the first time in that despatch, was an event of the greatest importance, for it not only put the seal to the defeat of Hunter at Lynchburg, but notified the government of a series of bold and energetic counter-movements down
Edwin M. Stanton (search for this): chapter 20
qual to his rank ; that certain transports were not clean enough for wounded soldiers; and that one of them was serving beef to wounded soldiers so fat and gristly that even the well could not eat it. On June 8th, at 4 P. M., Dana reported to Stanton, among other things, that two divisions of Warren's corps had taken position to the left of Hancock near Botton's Bridge; that two officers of Grant's staff were with Butler, making preparatory arrangements for the movement of this army to Bermuyed as far south as practicable, then, if necessary, the Army of the Potomac may . . . move upon the Danville road, leaving its base of supplies here to be guarded by its fortifications and the forces of General Butler. Official Records, Dana to Stanton, July 20, 1864-5 P. M. This statement, it will be observed, is most important, as it clearly shows that Grant's plan on that day was to break up the Confederate railroads, and force his way by the left flank to the Appomattox River. It is a
Dana's despatches show that he remained at Cold Harbor till the afternoon of June 12th with Grant; that the long halt of the army was at an end, and that the great movement by the left, apparently against Richmond, but really to cross the James River at Bermuda Hundred, was to begin that night. His last act before breaking camp that afternoon was to call the attention of the Secretary of War to the misconduct of Generals Ward, Owen, and Eustis, and to the fact that General Grant desired General Slocum, who was making war against a den of thieves at Vicksburg, should be left in command at that place. His first act after getting into camp that night four miles beyond Long Bridge was to report everything going on perfectly; ... troops moving rapidly; ... weather splendid. During the entire day of June 13th Dana appears to have been engaged in riding from point to point, for the purpose of watching and reporting the movement of the army by the left flank towards Fort Powhatan on the J
Benjamin Franklin Butler (search for this): chapter 20
ter doing all possible damage, to march to the James River and communicate with Butler. This was followed by the statement that General Hobart Ward is under arrest fbridges and rejoin before to-morrow night, that Smith, with reinforcements from Butler's army, was delayed at New Castle, and had been directed not to begin his marcht of Hancock near Botton's Bridge; that two officers of Grant's staff were with Butler, making preparatory arrangements for the movement of this army to Bermuda Hundrflank towards Fort Powhatan on the James. The next day he crossed the James to Butler's headquarters at Bermuda Hundred, and the day afterwards went to City Point. base of supplies here to be guarded by its fortifications and the forces of General Butler. Official Records, Dana to Stanton, July 20, 1864-5 P. M. This statemensunderstandings and controversies, the most important of which was between Generals Butler and W. F. Smith. Dana's despatches throw light upon them all. Having been
nerals were becoming more and more cautious, and their men were more and more reluctant to attack the enemy when covered by intrenchments. By May 20th Sheridan with his cavalry had regained touch with the army, and thenceforth, till he was again detached, contributed greatly to the success of Grant's effective manoeuvres. Both officers and men approved their wisdom, and greatly preferred them to the smash-'em-up policy which, unfortunately, again became the cry a few days later. On the 26th Dana, after giving a detailed account of the day's operations, closed his despatch with these significant words: One of the most important results of the campaign thus far is the entire change which has taken place in the feelings of the armies. The rebels have lost all confidence, and are already morally defeated. This army has learned to believe that it is sure of victory. Even our officers have ceased to regard Lee as an invincible military genius. On part of the rebels this chan
hting had not been equal to our previous fighting, owing to our heavy loss in superior officers ; that Grant, who was responsible for the first day's fighting, while Meade had ordered that of the second and third days, had finally declared that no more assaults should be made, and that he would now maneuver. It also appeared that Sheridan's attempt to destroy the railroads north of Richmond had not been entirely successful, and that Ewell's corps had gone to Lynchburg. In his despatch of June 20th Dana says, Meade is ordered to devote himself to swinging his army around upon the south and southwest of Petersburg, with the view of cutting both the Weldon and Lynchburg railroads, and resting his left flank on the Appomattox. He adds: As the object is to get possession of the railroad and enclose the enemy, fighting will not be sought for, though of course it will not be avoided. Once extended to the Appomattox, the railroad will be thoroughly destroyed as far south as practica
e breaking camp that afternoon was to call the attention of the Secretary of War to the misconduct of Generals Ward, Owen, and Eustis, and to the fact that General Grant desired General Slocum, who was making war against a den of thieves at Vicksburg, should be left in command at that place. His first act after getting into camp that night four miles beyond Long Bridge was to report everything going on perfectly; ... troops moving rapidly; ... weather splendid. During the entire day of June 13th Dana appears to have been engaged in riding from point to point, for the purpose of watching and reporting the movement of the army by the left flank towards Fort Powhatan on the James. The next day he crossed the James to Butler's headquarters at Bermuda Hundred, and the day afterwards went to City Point. His despatches for that period cover all the important operations in that field, and show that All goes on like a miracle ; that the weather is cloudy, threatening rain, but I think we
f Lee's retirement; the prevalence of rain; the fatigue of the army; the second successful assault by the intrepid Upton; the massing of the army in compact formation to cover Fredericksburg, and to resist counter-attack; the continuance of rainy weather and bad roads; the concentration of Lee's army around the Court-House, covering the road from Fredericksburg to Richmond; the withdrawal of Lee's trains to Guiney's Station; a full statement of the killed, wounded, and missing, amounting on May 16th to a grand total of 36,872; the arrival of the first reinforcements; another order to attack at daylight, which was not obeyed; an order for a further decisive movement towards the left; a sudden but unsuccessful return to the right; the gallantry of the new heavy artillery troops; and finally the success of the turning movement which compelled the enemy to withdraw towards Richmond, and enabled Grant to advance to Guiney's Station. From this place to Cold Harbor the operations of the co
or that period cover all the important operations in that field, and show that All goes on like a miracle ; that the weather is cloudy, threatening rain, but I think we shall get everything out of the Chickahominy bottom upon the highlands along the James River before any trouble from that source. Singularly enough, he added, We know nothing of Lee's movements. He has not yet sent troops to Petersburg. He reports later that Smith was to have attacked the last-named place at daylight on the 15th, that at 4 P. M. he had carried a line of intrenchments, and that at 7.20 P. M. he assaulted and carried the principal line before Petersburg. In the same despatch he tells us that he had ridden over the conquered lines with Grant, and found them to be more difficult even to take than was Missionary Ridge ; that none of Lee's army had reached Petersburg when Smith stormed it, but that they seemed to be there the morning afterwards, making arrangements to hold the west side of the Appomattox
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