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Chapter 3

  • Preparations for a General advance
  • -- Grant's reasons for moving by the left flank -- his instructions to his staff -- Grant's Numerical strength Offset by Lee's Strategical advantage -- crossing the Rapidan -- the headquarters mess -- on the eve of battle -- Longstreet's estimate of Grant -- an Early breakfast at headquarters -- Grant and Meade pitch tents in the Wilderness -- Grant Hears of the death of an old Comrade -- a conference between Grant and Meade

The night of May 3 will always be memorable in the recollection of those who assembled in the little front room of the house occupied as headquarters at Culpeper. The eight senior members of the staff seated themselves that evening about their chief to receive their final instructions, and participated in an intensely interesting discussion of the grand campaign, which was to begin the next morning with all its hopes, its uncertainties, and its horrors. Sherman had been instructed to strike Joseph E. Johnston's army in northwest Georgia, and make his way to Atlanta. Banks was to advance up the Red River and capture Shreveport. Sigel was ordered to make an expedition down the valley of Virginia, and endeavor to destroy a portion of the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad. His movement was expected to keep Lee from withdrawing [36] troops from the valley, and reinforcing his principal army, known as the Army of Northern Virginia. Butler was directed to move up the James River, and endeavor to secure Petersburg and the railways leading into it, and, if opportunity offered, to seize Richmond itself. Burnside, with the Ninth Corps, which had been moved from Annapolis into Virginia, was to support the Army of the Potomac. The subsequent movements of all the forces operating in Virginia were to depend largely upon the result of the first battles between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. General Grant felt, as he afterward expressed it in his official report, that our armies had acted heretofore too independently of one another --“without concert, like a balky team, no two ever pulling together.” To obviate this, he had made up his mind to launch all his armies against the Confederacy at the same time, to give the enemy no rest, and to allow him no opportunity to reinforce any of his armies by troops which were not themselves confronted by Union forces.

The general sat for some time preparing a few final instructions in writing. After he had finished he turned his back to the table, crossed one leg over the other, lighted a fresh cigar, and began to talk of the momentous movement which in a few hours was to begin. He said: “I weighed very carefully the advantages and disadvantages of moving against Lee's left and moving against his right. The former promised more decisive results if immediately successful, and would best prevent Lee from moving north to make raids, but it would deprive our army of the advantages of easy communication with a water base of supplies, and compel us to carry such a large amount of ammunition and rations in wagon-trains, and detach so many troops as train [37] guards, that I found it presented too many serious difficulties; and when I considered especially the sufferings of the wounded in being transported long distances overland, instead of being carried by short routes to water, where they could be comfortably moved by boats, I had no longer any hesitation in deciding to cross the Rapidan below the position occupied by Lee's army, and move by our left. This plan will also enable us to cooperate better with Butler's forces, and not become separated too far from them. I shall not give my attention so much to Richmond as to Lee's army, and I want all commanders to feel that hostile armies, and not cities, are to be their objective points.” It was the understanding that Lee's army was to be the objective point of the Army of the Potomac, and it was to move against Richmond only in case Lee went there. To use Grant's own language to Meade, “Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also.” He of course thought it likely that Lee would fall back upon Richmond in case of defeat, and place himself behind its fortifications; for he had said to Meade, in his instructions to him, “Should a siege of Richmond become necessary, ammunition and equipments can be got from the arsenals at Washington and Fort Monroe” ; and during the discussion that evening he rose from his seat, stepped up to a map hanging upon the wall, and with a sweep of his forefinger indicated a line around Richmond and Petersburg, and remarked: “When my troops are there, Richmond is mine. Lee must retreat or surrender.”

He then communicated verbal instructions to his staff, which gave the key to his method of handling troops in actual battle, and showed the value he placed upon celerity and the overcoming of delays in communicating orders. He said to us-“I want you to discuss with me freely from time to time the details of the [38] orders given for the conduct of a battle, and learn my views as fully as possible as to what course should be pursued in all the contingencies which may arise. I expect to send you to the critical points of the lines to keep me promptly advised of what is taking place, and in cases of great emergency, when new dispositions have to be made on the instant, or it becomes suddenly necessary to reinforce one command by sending to its aid troops from another, and there is not time to communicate with headquarters, I want you to explain my views to commanders, and urge immediate action, looking to cooperation, without waiting for specific orders from me.” He said he would locate his headquarters near those of Meade, and communicate his instructions through that officer, and through Burnside, whose command at this time was independent of the Army of the Potomac; but that emergencies might arise in which he himself would have to give immediate direction to troops when actually engaged in battle.

He never made known his plans far in advance to any one. It was his invariable custom to keep his contemplated movements locked up in his own mind to avoid all possibility of their being mentioned. What impressed every one most was the self-reliance displayed in perfecting his plans, and his absolute faith in their success. His calm confidence communicated itself to all who listened to him, and inspired them with a feeling akin to that of their chief.

The discussion did not end till long past midnight. As usual on the eve of a battle, before the general retired he wrote a letter to Mrs. Grant. I did not know the nature of the contents of the letters to his wife until after the war, when Mrs. Grant, in speaking of them, said that they always contained words of cheer and comfort, expressed an abiding faith in victory, and [39] never failed to dwell upon the sad thought which always oppressed him when he realized that many human lives would have to be sacrificed, and great sufferings would have to be endured by the wounded. The general's letters to his wife were very frequent during a campaign, and no pressure of official duties was ever permitted to interrupt this correspondence.

The Rapidan separated the two hostile forces in northern Virginia. Lee's headquarters were at Orange Court-house, a distance of seventeen miles from Culpeper. The Army of the Potomac consisted of the Second Corps, commanded by Hancock; the Fifth, commanded by Warren; the Sixth, commanded by Sedgwick; and the cavalry corps under Sheridan. Besides these, there was Burnside's separate command, consisting of the Ninth Army Corps. These troops numbered in all about 116,000 present for duty, equipped. The Army of Northern Virginia consisted of three infantry corps, commanded respectively by Longstreet, Ewell, and A. P. Hill, and a cavalry corps commanded by J. E. B. Stuart. Its exact strength has never been accurately ascertained, but from the best data available it has been estimated at about 70,000 present for duty, equipped. General Grant, in his “Memoirs,” puts the number as high as 80,000.

Those familiar with military operations, and unprejudiced in their opinion, will concede that, notwithstanding Lee's inferiority in numbers, the advantages were, nevertheless, in his favor in the approaching campaign. Having interior lines, he was able to move by shorter marches, and to act constantly on the defensive at a period of the war when troops had learned to intrench themselves with marvelous rapidity, and force the invading army continually to assault fortified positions. The task to be performed by the Union forces was that [40] of conducting a moving siege. The field of operations, with its numerous rivers and creeks difficult of approach, its lack of practicable roads, its dense forests, its impassable swamps, and its trying summer climate, debilitating to Northern troops, seemed specially designed by nature for purposes of defense. Lee and his officers were familiar with every foot of the ground, and every inhabitant was eager to give them information. His army was in a friendly country, from which provisions could be drawn from all directions, and few troops had to be detached to guard lines of supply. The Union army, on the contrary, was unfamiliar with the country, was without accurate maps, could seldom secure trustworthy guides, and had to detach large bodies of troops from the main command to guard its long lines of communication, protect its supply-trains, and conduct the wounded to points of safety. The Southern Confederacy was virtually a military despotism, with a soldier at the head of its government, and officers were appointed in the army entirely with reference to their military qualifications. Since Lee had taken command he had not lost a single battle fought in the State of Virginia, and the prestige of success had an effect upon his troops the importance of which cannot easily be over-estimated. His men were made to feel that they were fighting for their homes and firesides; the pulpit, the press, and the women were making superhuman efforts to “fire the Southern heart” ; disasters were concealed, temporary advantages were magnified into triumphant victories, and crushing defeats were hailed as blessings in disguise. In the North there was a divided press, with much carping criticism on the part of journals opposed to the war, which was fitted to discourage the troops and destroy their confidence in their leaders. There were hosts of Southern sympathizers, [41] constituting a foe in the 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 Germanna Ford, following Warren's troops. He was mounted upon his bay horse “Cincinnati,” equipped with a saddle of the Grimsley pattern, which was somewhat the worse for wear, as the general had used it in all his campaigns from Donelson to the present time. Rawlins was on his left, and rode a “clay-bank” horse he had brought from the West named “General Blair,” in honor of Frank P. Blair, who commanded a corps in the Army of the Tennessee. General Grant was dressed in a uniform coat and waistcoat, the coat being unbuttoned. On his hands were a pair of yellowish-brown thread gloves. He wore a pair of plain top-boots, reaching to his knees, and was equipped with a regulation sword, spurs, and sash. On his head was a slouch hat of black felt with a plain gold cord around it. His orderly carried strapped behind [42] his saddle the general's overcoat, which was that of a private soldier of cavalry. A sun as bright as the “sun of Austerlitz” shone down upon the scene. Its light brought out in vivid colors the beauties of the landscape which lay before us, and its rays were reflected with dazzling brilliancy from the brass field-pieces and the white covers of the wagons as they rolled lazily along in the distance. The crisp, bracing air seemed to impart to all a sense of exhilaration. As far as the eye could reach the troops were wending their way to the front. Their war banners, bullet-riddled and battle-stained, floated proudly in the morning breeze. The roads resounded to the measured tread of the advancing columns, and the deep forests were lighted by the glitter of their steel. The quick, elastic step and easy, swinging gait of the men, the cheery look upon their faces, and the lusty shouts with which they greeted their new commander as he passed, gave proof of the temper of their metal, and the superb spirit which animated their hearts. If the general's nature had been as emotional as that of Napoleon, he might have been moved to utter the words of the French emperor as his troops filed past him in moving to the field of Waterloo: “Magnificent, Magnificent!” But as General Grant was neither demonstrative nor communicative, he gave no expression whatever to his feelings.

With the party on the way to the front rode a citizen whose identity and purposes soon became an object of anxious inquiry among the troops. His plain black, funereal-looking citizen's clothes presented a sight not often witnessed on a general's staff, and attracted no little attention on the part of the soldiers, who began to make audible side remarks, evincing a searching curiosity to know whether the general had brought his private undertaker with him, or whether it was a parson [43] who had joined headquarters so as to be on hand to read the funeral service over the Southern Confederacy when the boys succeeded in getting it into the “last ditch.” The person was Mr. E. B. Washburne, member of Congress from General Grant's district, who had arrived at headquarters a few days before, and had expressed a desire to accompany the army upon the opening campaign, to which the general had readily assented.

A short time before noon the general-in-chief crossed one of the pontoon-bridges at Germanna Ford to the south side of the Rapidan, rode to the top of the bluff overlooking the river, and there dismounted, and established temporary headquarters at an old farm-house with Dutch gables and porch in front. It was rather dilapidated in appearance, and looked as if it had been deserted for some time. The only furniture it contained was a table and two chairs. Meade's headquarters were located close by. General Grant sat down on the steps of the house, lighted a cigar, and remained silent for some time, quietly watching Sedgwick's men passing over the bridge. After a while he said: “Well, the movement so far has been as satisfactory as could be desired. We have succeeded in seizing the fords and crossing the river without loss or delay. Lee must by this time know upon what roads we are advancing, but he may not yet realize the full extent of the movement. We shall probably soon get some indications as to what he intends to do.”

A representative of a newspaper, with whom the general was acquainted, now stepped up to him and said, “General Grant, about how long will it take you to get to Richmond?” The general replied at once: “I will agree to be there in about four days--that is, if General Lee becomes a party to the agreement; but if [44] he objects, the trip will undoubtedly be prolonged.” The correspondent looked as if he did not see just how he could base any definite predictions upon this oracular response.

I happened to be looking over a field map at the time, and, at the general's request, handed it to him. He examined it attentively for a few minutes, and then returned it without making any remarks. The main roads were pretty well represented on our maps. The Germanna road runs a little east of south; five miles from the Rapidan it is crossed by a road running east and west, called the Orange turnpike; a mile beyond it intersects the Brock road, which runs north and south; and a mile farther on the Brock road is crossed by the Orange plank-road running east and west. There were also some narrow cross-roads cut through the woods in various places.

About one o'clock word came from Meade that our signal-officers had succeeded in deciphering a message sent to General Ewell, which read as follows: “We are moving. Had I not better move D. and D. toward New Verdierville? (Signed) R.” The general manifested considerable satisfaction at receiving this news, and remarked: “That gives just the information I wanted. It shows that Lee is drawing out from his position, and is pushing across to meet us.” He now called for writing material, and placing a book upon his knee, laid the paper upon it, and wrote a despatch to Burnside at Rappablannock Station, saying: “Make forced marches until you reach this place. Start your troops now in the rear the moment they can be got off, and require them to make a night march.”

A cold lunch was then eaten off a pine table in the dining-room of the deserted house. Later in the afternoon our tents arrived, and were pitched near the house, [45] and a little before dark the “mess” sat down to dinner. The table had been laid under the fly of a large tent of the pattern known as the “hospital tent.” Perhaps no headquarters of a general in supreme command of great armies ever presented so democratic an appearance. All the officers of the staff dined at the table with their chief, and the style of conversation was as familiar as that which occurs in the household of any private family. Nothing could have been more informal or unconventional than the manner in which the mess was conducted. The staff-officers came to the table and left it at such times as their duties permitted, sometimes lingering over a meal to indulge in conversation, at other times remaining to take only a few mouthfuls in all haste before starting out upon the lines. The chief ate less and talked less than any other member of the staff, and partook only of the plainest food.

A camp-fire of dry fence-rails had been built in front of the general's tent, not because the evening was particularly cold, but for the reason that the fire lighted up the scene and made the camp look more cheerful. General Meade came over to headquarters after dinner, and took a seat upon a folding camp-chair by our fire, and he and General Grant entered into a most interesting discussion of the situation and the plans for the next day. The general-in-chief offered Meade a cigar. The wind was blowing, and he had some difficulty in lighting it, when General Grant offered him his flint and steel, which overcame the difficulty. The general always carried in the field a small silver tinder-box, in which there was a flint and steel with which to strike a spark, and a coil of fuse which was easily ignited by the spark and not affected by the wind. The French would call it a briquet. While the two generals were talking, and a number of staff-officers sitting by listening, telegrams [46] were received from Washington saying that Sherman had advanced in Georgia, Butler had ascended the James River, and Sigel's forces were moving down the valley of Virginia. These advances were in obedience to General Grant's previous orders. He said: “I don't expect much from Sigel's movement; it is made principally for the purpose of preventing the enemy in his front from withdrawing troops to reinforce Lee's army. To use an expression of Mr. Lincoln's, employed in my last conversation with him, when I was speaking of this general policy, ‘ If Sigel can't skin himself, he can hold a leg while somebody else skins.’ It is very gratifying to know that Hancock and Warren have made a march to-day of over twenty miles, with scarcely any stragglers from their commands.” Telegrams were now sent to Washington announcing the entire success of the crossing of the Rapidan, and saying that it would be demonstrated before long whether the enemy intended to give battle on that side of Richmond. Meade soon after retired to his headquarters, and a little while before midnight General Grant entered his tent and turned in for the night. Its only furniture consisted of a portable cot made of a coarse canvas stretcher over a light wooden frame, a tin wash-basin which stood on an iron tripod, two folding camp-chairs, and a plain pine table. The general's baggage was limited to one small camp trunk, which contained his underclothing, toilet articles, a suit of clothes, and an extra pair of boots.

General Longstreet, then commanding a corps in Lee's army, told me, several years after the war, that the evening on which news was received that Grant intended to give personal direction to the army which was to operate against Lee, he had a conversation on the subject at Lee's headquarters. An officer present talked very confidently of being able to whip with all ease the [47] western general who was to confront them, at which Longstreet said: “Do you know Grant” “No,” the officer replied. “Well, I do,” continued Longstreet. “I was in the corps of cadets with him at West Point for three years, I was present at his wedding, I served in the same army with him in Mexico, I have observed his methods of warfare in the West, and I believe I know him through and through; and I tell you that we cannot afford to underrate him and the army he now commands. We must make up our minds to get into line of battle and to stay there; for that man will fight us every day and every hour till the end of this war. In order to whip him we must outmaneuver him, and husband our strength as best we can.”

After the officers at headquarters had obtained what sleep they could get, they arose about daylight, feeling that in all probability they would witness before night either a fight or a foot-race — a fight if the armies encountered each other, a foot-race to secure good positions if the armies remained apart.

General Meade had started south at dawn, moving along the Germanna road. General Grant intended to remain in his present camp till Burnside arrived, in order to give him some directions in person regarding his movements. The general sat down to the breakfast-table after nearly all the staff-officers had finished their morning meal. While he was slowly sipping his coffee, a young newspaper reporter, whose appetite, combined with his spirit of enterprise, had gained a substantial victory over his modesty, slipped up to the table, took a seat at the farther end, and remarked, “Well, I would n't mind taking a cup of something warm myself, if there's no objection.” Thereupon seizing a coffee-pot, he poured out a full ration of that soothing army beverage, and, after helping himself to some of [48] the other dishes, proceeded to eat breakfast with an appetite which had evidently been stimulated by long hours of fasting. The general paid no more attention to this occurrence than he would have paid to the flight of a bird across his path. He scarcely looked at the intruder, did not utter a word at the time, and made no mention of it afterward. It was a fair sample of the imperturbability of his nature as to trivial matters taking place about him. General Grant sent a message to Meade at 8:24 A. M., saying, among other things, “If an opportunity presents itself for pitching into a part of Lee's army, do so without giving time for dispositions.” It will be observed from this despatch, and many others which follow, that nearly all of our commanding officers in the field indulged in a certain amount of colloquialism in their communications. Perhaps it seemed to them to make the style less stilted, to give more snap to their language, and express their meaning more briefly. It certainly savored less of the “pomp” and more of the “circumstance” of war than the correspondence of European commanders.

Sheridan's cavalry had been assigned to the duty of guarding the train of four thousand wagons, and feeling out to the left for the enemy. The head of Burnside's leading division was now seen crossing the river; but as General Grant was anxious to go to the front, he decided not to wait to see Burnside in person, but to send him a note instead, urging him to close up as rapidly as possible upon Sedgwick's corps. This communication was despatched at 8:41 A. M., and the general immediately after directed the staff to mount and move forward with him along the Germanna road. After riding a mile, an officer was seen coming toward us at a gallop, and was soon recognized as Colonel Hyde of Sedgwick's staff. He halted in front of General Grant [49] and said: “General Meade directed me to ride back and meet you, and say that the enemy is still advancing along the turnpike, and that Warren's and Sedgwick's troops are being put in position to meet him.” The general now started forward at an accelerated pace, and, after riding four miles farther along the Germanna road, came to the crossing of the Orange turnpike. Here General Meade was seen standing near the roadside. He came forward on foot to give General Grant the latest information. The general now dismounted, and the two officers began to discuss the situation.

It had become evident that the enemy intended to give battle in the heart of the Wilderness, and it was decided to establish the headquarters of both generals near the place where they were holding their present conference, at the junction of these two important roads. As this spot became the central point from which nearly all the orders of the commander were issued during one of the most desperate battles in the annals of history, a description of the location is important, in order to give the reader a clear understanding of the memorable events which took place in its vicinity.

A little to the east of the cross-roads stood the old Wilderness tavern, a deserted building surrounded by a rank growth of weeds, and partly shut in by trees. A few hundred yards to the west, and in the northwest angle formed by the two intersecting roads, was a knoll from which the old trees had been cut, and upon which was a second growth of scraggy pine, scrub-oak, and other timber. The knoll was high enough to afford a view for some little distance, but the outlook was limited in all directions by the almost impenetrable forest with its interlacing trees and tangled undergrowth. The ground upon which the battle was fought was intersected [50] in every direction by winding rivulets, rugged ravines, and ridges of mineral rock. Many excavations had been made in opening iron-ore beds, leaving pits bordered by ridges of earth. Trees had been felled in a number of places to furnish fuel and supply sawmills. The locality is well described by its name. It was a wilderness in the most forbidding sense of the word.

The headquarters wagons had followed the staff, the tents were soon pitched, and a camp was established on low ground at the foot of the knoll just described, between it and the Germanna road. Grant and Meade had, in the mean time, taken up their positions on top of the knoll and stood there talking over the situation; Warren had joined them, and had communicated the latest news from his front. As soon as General Grant learned the situation, he followed his habitual custom in warfare, and, instead of waiting to be attacked, took the initiative and pushed out against the enemy. Warren had been directed to move out in force on the Orange turnpike, Getty's division of Sedgwick's corps was put into position on Warren's left, and as soon as it was found that the enemy was advancing on the Orange plank-road, orders were sent to Hancock to hurry up his troops, and take up a position on the left of Getty. While these preparations were progressing, General Grant lighted a cigar, sat down on the stump of a tree, took out his penknife, and began to whittle a stick. He kept on his brown thread gloves, and did not remove them once during the entire day. Everything was comparatively quiet until the hour of noon, when the stillness was suddenly broken by the sharp rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery. These sounds were the quick messengers which told that Warren had met the enemy and begun the conflict. He encountered Ewell's corps, and drove it nearly a mile, but was soon [51] compelled to fall back and restore the connection which had been lost between his divisions.

Warren then had a conference with General Grant, who proposed that they should ride out to the front. He called for his horse, which had remained saddled, and directed me and another of the aides to accompany him. As General Warren was more familiar with the ground, he rode ahead. He was mounted on a fine-looking white horse, was neatly uniformed, and wore the yellow sash of a general officer. He was one of the few officers who wore their sashes in a campaign, or paid much attention to their dress. The party moved to the front along a narrow country road bordered by a heavy undergrowth of timber and bristling thickets. The infantry were struggling with difficulty through the dense woods, the wounded were lying along the roadside, firing still continued in front, and dense clouds of smoke hung above the tops of the trees. It was the opening scene of the horrors of the Wilderness.

After having learned from personal inspection the exact character of the locality in which the battle was to be fought, General Grant returned to headquarters, in order to be able to communicate more promptly with the different commands. News had been received that Hill's corps of Lee's army was moving up rapidly on the Orange plank-road. Grant was now becoming impatient to take the initiative against the enemy, and staff-officers were sent with important orders to all parts of the line. It was soon seen that the infantry would have to fight it out without much aid from the artillery, as it was impossible to move many batteries to the front, owing to the difficult nature of the ground. Hancock, with great energy, had thrown forward two of his divisions to support Getty, who had already attacked Hill. I was sent to communicate with Hancock during this [52] part of the engagement. The fighting had become exceedingly severe on that part of the field. General Alexander Hays, one of the most gallant officers in the service, commanding one of Hancock's brigades, finding that his line had broken, rushed forward to encourage his troops, and was instantly killed. Getty and Carroll were severely wounded. After remaining for some time with Hancock's men, I returned to headquarters to report the situation to the general-in-chief, and carried to him the sad intelligence of Hays's death. General Grant was by no means a demonstrative man, but upon learning the intelligence I brought, he was visibly affected. He was seated upon the ground with his back against a tree, still whittling pine sticks. He sat for a time without uttering a word, and then, speaking in a low voice, and pausing between the sentences, said: “Hays and I were cadets together for three years. We served for a time in the same regiment in the Mexican war. He was a noble man and a gallant officer. I am not surprised that he met his death at the head of his troops; it was just like him. He was a man who would never follow, but would always lead in battle.”

Wadsworth's division of Warren's corps was sent to support Hancock; but it encountered great difficulty in working its way through the woods, and darkness set in before it could get within striking distance of the enemy. Sedgwick lad some fighting on the right of Warren, but no important results had been accomplished on his front. About eight o'clock in the evening the firing died away, and the troops in the immediate presence of the enemy lay on their arms to await the events of the morning.

Sheridan had left a force in the rear sufficient to protect the trains, and had formed the rest of his command so as to confront the enemy's cavalry, which had been [53] moved around by the right of the enemy's line. He had severe fighting on our extreme left. When we sat down at the mess-table at headquarters that evening, the events of the day were fully discussed, and each staff-officer related to the general in detail the scenes which had occurred upon the particular portion of the front which he had visited. Soon after we had risen from the table and left the mess-tent, Meade walked over from his headquarters, and he and the general-in-chief seated themselves by the camp-fire, and talked over the events of the day and the plans for the morrow. Mr. Washburne and our staff-officers made part of the group. The general manifested intense anxiety in regard to relieving the wounded, and the medical officers and the commanders of troops were urged to make every possible effort to find the sufferers and convey them to the rear. Even in daylight it would have been a difficult undertaking to penetrate the thickets and carry the wounded to a place of safety, but at night it was almost impossible, for every time a lantern was shown, or a noise made, it was certain to attract the fire of the enemy. However, those who had been slightly wounded made their own way to the field-hospitals, and by dint of extraordinary exertions, great numbers of the seriously injured were brought to positions where they could be cared for.

During the conversation General Grant remarked: “As Burnside's corps, on our side, and Longstreet's, on the other side, have not been engaged, and the troops of both armies have been occupied principally in struggling through thickets and fighting for position, to-day's work has not been much of a test of strength. I feel pretty well satisfied with the result of the engagement; for it is evident that Lee attempted by a bold movement to strike this army in flank.before it could be put into [54] line of battle and be prepared to fight to advantage; but in this he has failed.”

The plan agreed upon that night for the coming struggle was as follows: Hancock and Wadsworth were to make an attack on Hill at 4:30 A. M., so as to strike him if possible before Longstreet could arrive to reinforce him. Burnside, who would arrive early in the morning with three divisions, was to send one division (Stevenson's) to Hancock, and to put the other two divisions between Wadsworth and Warren's other divisions, and attack Hill in flank, or at least obliquely, while Warren and Sedgwick were to attack along their fronts, inflict all the damage they could, and keep the troops opposed to them from reinforcing Hill and Longstreet. Burnside's fourth division was to guard the wagon-trains. This division was composed of colored troops, and was commanded by General Ferrero. General Meade, through whom all orders were issued to the Army of the Potomac, was of the opinion that the troops could not be got into position for the attack as early as half-past 4 o'clock, and recommended six; but General Grant objected, as he was apprehensive that this might give the enemy an opportunity to take the initiative. However, he agreed to postpone the time till five o'clock, and the final orders were given for that hour. Meade now arose, said good night, and walked over to his headquarters. Before eleven o'clock the general-in-chief remarked to the staff: “We shall have a busy day to-morrow, and I think we had better get all the sleep we can to-night. I am a confirmed believer in the restorative qualities of sleep, and always like to get at least seven hours of it, though I have often been compelled to put up with much less.” “It is said,” remarked Washburne, “that Napoleon often indulged in only four hours of sleep, and still preserved all the [55] vigor of his mental faculties.” “Well, I, for one, never believed those stories,” the general replied. “If the truth were known, I have no doubt it would be found that he made up for his short sleep at night by taking naps during the day.” The chief then retired to his tent, and his example was followed by all the officers who could be spared from duty. The marked stillness which now reigned in camp formed a striking contrast to the shock and din of battle which had just ceased, and which was so soon to be renewed.

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