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Chapter 5

  • Grant's third day in the Wilderness
  • -- Hail to the chief! -- a night alarm -- a midnight ride -- Grant Roughs it with his troops -- out of the Wilderness -- Sheridan ordered to crush “JebStuart -- a Chapter of accidents -- Grant in front of Spottsylvania -- the death of Sedgwick -- arrival of despatches-“I shall take no Backward steps”

The next morning, May 7, General Grant was almost the first one up. He seated himself at the campfire at dawn, and looked thoroughly refreshed after the sound sleep he had enjoyed. In fact, a night's rest had greatly reinvigorated every one. A fog, combined with the smoke from the smoldering forest fires, rendered it difficult for those of us who were sent to make reconnaissances to see any great distance, even where there were openings in the forest. A little after 6 A. M. there was some artillery-firing from Warren's batteries, which created an impression for a little while that the enemy might be moving against him; but he soon sent word that he had been firing at some skirmishers who had pushed down to a point near his intrenchments and discharged a few shots. At 6:30 A. M. the general issued his orders to prepare for a night march of the entire army toward Spottsylvania Court-house, on the direct road to Richmond. At 8:30 Burnside pushed out a [75] skirmishing party to feel the enemy, and found that he had withdrawn from a portion of his line. Skirmishing continued along parts of Warren's front till 11 A. M. In fact, each army was anxious to learn promptly the position and apparent intentions of the other, so as to be able to act intelligently in making the next move in the all-absorbing game. The enemy was found to be occupying a strongly intrenched line defended by artillery, and at an average distance from our front of nearly a mile.

While sitting at the mess-table taking breakfast, I asked the general-in-chief: “In all your battles up to this time, where do you think your presence upon the field was most useful in the accomplishing of results?” He replied: “Well, I don't know” ; then, after a pause, “perhaps at Shiloh.” I said: “I think it was last night, when the attack was made on our right.” He did not follow up the subject, for he always spoke with great reluctance about anything which was distinctly personal to himself. The only way in which we could ever draw him out, and induce him to talk about events in his military career, was to make some misstatement intentionally about an occurrence. His regard for truth was so great that his mind always rebelled against inaccuracies, and in his desire to correct the error he would go into an explanation of the facts, and in doing so would often be led to talk with freedom upon the subject.

An officer related to the general an incident of the attack the night before, which showed that even the gravest events have a comical side. In the efforts to strengthen our light, a number of teamsters had been ordered into the ranks and sent hurriedly to the front. As they were marching past their teams, one of the men was recognized by his favorite “lead” mule, who proceeded [76] to pay his respects to him in a friendly heehaw, which reverberated through the forest until the sound bid fair to rival the report of the opening gun at Lexington, which fired the “shot heard round the world.” The teamster turned to him and cried: “Oh, you better not laugh, old Simon Bolivar. Before this fight's through I bet they'll pick you up and put you into the ranks, too!”

After leaving the breakfast-table, the general lighted a cigar and took his seat on a camp-stool in front of his tent. In a conversation with the staff he then began to discuss the operations of the day before. He expressed himself as satisfied with the result in the main, saying: “While it is in one sense a drawn battle, as neither side has gained or lost ground substantially since the fighting began, yet we remain in possession of the field, and the forces opposed to us have withdrawn to a distance from our front and taken up a defensive position. We cannot call the engagement a positive victory, but the enemy have only twice actually reached our lines in their many attacks, and have not gained a single advantage. This will enable me to carry out my intention of moving to the left, and compelling the enemy to fight in a more open country and outside of their breastworks.”

An old officer who was passing by, an acquaintance of the general's, now stepped up to the group. He had recently been ordered in from the plains, and his wild tales of red-handed slaughter in the land of the savages had already made him known in the army as the “Injun-slayer.” An aide remarked to him, “Well, as you've been spoiling for a fight ever since you joined this army, how did yesterday's set — to strike you by way of a skirmish” “Oh,” was the reply, “you had large numbers engaged, and heavy losses; but it was n't the [77] picturesque, desperate hand-to-hand fighting that you see when you're among the Injuns.” “No; but we got in some pretty neat work on the white man,” said the aide. “Yes; but it didn't compare with the time the Nez Perces and the Shoshonee tribes had their big battle,” continued the veteran. “Why, how was that?” cried all present in a chorus. “Well, you see,” explained the narrator, “first the Nez Perces set up a yell louder than a blast of Gabriel's trumpet, and charged straight across the valley; but the Shoshonees stood their ground without budging an inch, and pretty soon they went for the Nez Perces and drove 'em back again. As soon as the Nez Perces could catch their breath they took another turn at the Shoshonees, and shoved them back just about where they started from. By this time the ground between 'em was so covered by the killed and wounded that you could n't see as much as a blade of grass. But still they kept on charging back and forth across that valley, and they moved so fast that when their lines of battle passed me, the wind they made was so strong that I had to hold my hat on with both hands, and once I came mighty near being blown clear off my feet.” “Why, where were you all this time?” asked several voices. “Oh,” said he, “I was standing on a little knoll in the middle of the valley, looking on.” “Why,” remarked an officer, “I should think they would have killed you in the scrimmage.” Then the face of the veteran of the plains assumed an air of offended innocence, and in a tone of voice which made it painfully evident that he felt the hurt, he said, “What?-the Injuns! Lord, they all knew me!” The general joined in the smiles which followed this bit of sadly mutilated truth. Similar Munchausenisms, indulged in from time to time by this officer, demonstrated the fact that he had become so skilled in warping veracity [78] that one of his lies could make truth look mean alongside of it, and he finally grew so untrustworthy that it was unsafe even to believe the contrary of what he said.

At 3 P. M. despatches were received by way of Washington, saying that General Butler had reached the junction of the James and Appomattox rivers the night of the 5th, had surprised the enemy, and successfully disembarked his troops, and that Sherman was moving out against Johnston in Georgia, and expected that a battle would be fought on the 7th.

All preparations for the night march had now been completed. The wagon-trains were to move at 4 P. M., so as to get a start of the infantry, and then go into park and let the troops pass them. The cavalry had been thrown out in advance; the infant-y began the march at 8:30 P. M. Warren was to proceed along the Brock road toward Spottsylvania Court-house, moving by the rear of Hancock, whose corps was to remain in its position during the night to guard against a possible attack by the enemy, and afterward to follow Warren. Sedgwick was to move by way of Chancellorsville and Piney Branch Church. Burnside was to follow Sedgwick, and to cover the trains which moved on the roads that were farthest from the enemy.

Soon after dark, Generals Grant and Meade, accompanied by their staffs, after having given personal supervision to the starting of the march, rode along the Brock road toward Hancock's headquarters, with the intention of waiting there till Warren's troops should reach that point. While moving close to Hancock's line, there occurred an unexpected demonstration on the part of the troops, which created one of the most memorable scenes of the campaign. Notwithstanding the darkness of the night, the form of the commander [79] was recognized, and word was passed rapidly along that the chief who had led them through the mazes of the Wilderness was again moving forward with his horse's head turned toward Richmond. Troops know but little about what is going on in a large army, except the occurrences which take place in their immediate vicinity; but this night ride of the general-in-chief told plainly the story of success, and gave each man to understand that the cry was to be “On to Richmond!” Soldiers weary and sleepy after their long battle, with stiffened limbs and smarting wounds, now sprang to their feet, forgetful of their pains, and rushed forward to the roadside. Wild cheers echoed through the forest, and glad shouts of triumph rent the air. Men swung their hats, tossed up their arms, and pressed forward to within touch of their chief, clapping their hands, and speaking to him with the familiarity of comrades. Pine-knots and leaves were set on fire, and lighted the scene with their weird, flickering glare. The night march had become a triumphal procession for the new commander. The demonstration was the emphatic verdict pronounced by the troops upon his first battle in the East. The excitement had been imparted to the horses, which soon became restive, and even the general's large bay, over which he possessed ordinarily such perfect control, became difficult to manage. Instead of being elated by this significant ovation, the general, thoughtful only of the practical question of the success of the movement, said: “This is most unfortunate. The sound will reach the ears of the enemy, and I fear it may reveal our movement.” By his direction, staff-officers rode forward and urged the men to keep quiet so as not to attract the enemy's attention; but the demonstration did not really cease until the general was out of sight. [80]

When Hancock's headquarters were reached, the party remained with him for some time, awaiting the arrival of the head of Warren's troops. Hancock's wound received at Gettysburg had not thoroughly healed, and he suffered such inconvenience from it when in the saddle that he had applied for permission to ride in a spring ambulance while on the march and when his troops were not in action. He was reclining upon one of the seats of the ambulance, conversing with General Grant, who had dismounted and was sitting on the ground with his back against a tree, whittling a stick, when the sound of firing broke forth directly in front. Hancock sprang up, seized his sword, which was lying near him, buckled it around his waist, and cried: “My horse! My horse!” The scene was intensely dramatic, and recalled vividly to the bystanders the cry of Richard III on the field of Bosworth. Grant listened a moment without changing his position or ceasing his whittling, and then remarked: “They are not fighting; the firing is all on one side. It takes two sides to start a fight.” In a few minutes the firing died away, and it was found that the enemy was not advancing. The incident fairly illustrates the contrast in the temperaments of these two distinguished soldiers.

At eleven o'clock word came to Grant and Meade that their headquarters escorts and wagons were delaying the advance of Warren's corps, and they decided to move on to Todd's tavern in order to clear the way. The woods were still on fire along parts of the main road, which made it almost impassable, so that the party turned out to the right into a side road. The intention was to take the same route by which the cavalry had advanced, but it was difficult to tell one road from another. The night was dark, the dust was thick, the guide who was directing the party became confused, and [81] it was uncertain whether we were going in the right direction or riding into the lines of the enemy. The guide was for a time suspected of treachery, but he was innocent of such a charge, and had only lost his bearings. Colonel Comstock rode on in advance, and hearing the sound of marching columns not far off on our right, came back with this news, and it was decided to return to the Brock road. General Grant at first demurred when it was proposed to turn back, and urged the guide to try and find some cross-road leading to the Brock road, to avoid retracing our steps. This was an instance of his marked aversion to turning back, which amounted almost to a superstition. He often put himself to the greatest personal inconvenience to avoid it. When he found he was not traveling in the direction he intended to take, he would try all sorts of cross-cuts, ford streams, and jump any number of fences to reach another road rather than go back and take a fresh start. If he had been in the place of the famous apprentice boy who wandered away from London, he would never have been thrice mayor of that city, for with him Bow Bells would have appealed to deaf ears when they chimed out, “Turn again, Whittington.” The enemy who encountered him never failed to feel the effect of this inborn prejudice against turning back. However, a slight retrograde movement became absolutely necessary in the present instance, and the general yielded to the force of circumstances. An orderly was stationed at the fork of the roads to indicate the right direction to Warren's troops when they should reach that point, and our party proceeded to Todd's tavern, reaching there soon after midnight. It was learned afterward that Anderson's (Longstreet's) corps had been marching parallel with us, and at a distance of less than a mile, so that the apprehension felt was well founded. [82]

The general and staff bivouacked upon the ground. The night was quite chilly, and a couple of fires were lighted to add to our comfort. General Grant lay down with his officers beside one of the fires, without any covering; when asleep, an aide quietly spread an overcoat over him. For about four hours we all kept turning over every few minutes so as to get warmed on both sides, imitating with our bodies the diurnal motion of the earth as it exposes its sides alternately to the heat of the sun. When daylight broke it was seen that a low board structure close to which the general-in-chief had lain down was a pig-pen; but its former occupants had disappeared, and were probably at that time nourishing the stomachs of the cavalry troopers of the invading army. Unfortunately, the odors of the place had not taken their departure with the pigs, but remained to add to the discomfort of the bivouackers. Sheridan's cavalry had had a fight at this place the afternoon before, in which he had defeated the opposing force, and the ground in the vicinity, strewn with the dead, offered ample evidence of the severity of the struggle.

At daylight on the morning of the 8th active operations were in progress throughout the columns. General Sheridan had ordered his cavalry to move by different roads to seize the bridges crossing the Po River. General Meade modified these orders, and directed a portion of the cavalry to move in front of Warren's infantry on the Spottsylvania Court-house road. The enemy were felling trees and placing other obstacles in the way, in order to impede the movement, and the cavalry was afterward withdrawn and the infantry directed to open the way.

About sunrise General Grant, after taking off his coat and shaking it to rid it of some of the dust in which he [83] had lain down, shared with the staff-officers some soldiers' rations, and then seated himself on the ground by the roadside to take his morning smoke.

Soon afterward he and General Meade rode on, and established their respective headquarters near Piney Branch Church, about two miles to the east of Todd's tavern. It was Sunday, but the overrunning of the country by contending armies had scattered the little church's congregation. The temple of prayer was voiceless, the tolling of its peaceful bell had given place to the echo of hostile guns, and in the excitement which prevailed it must be confessed that few recalled the fact that it was the Sabbath day.

A drum corps in passing caught sight of the general, and at once struck up a then popular negro camp-meeting air. Every one began to laugh, and Rawlins cried, “Good for the drummers!” “What's the fun” inquired the general. “Why,” was the reply, “they are playing, ‘Ain't I glad to get out ob de wilderness!’ ” The general smiled at the ready wit of the musicians, and said, “Well, with me a musical joke always requires explanation. I know only two tunes: one is ‘Yankee Doodle,’ and the other is n't.”

Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, joined us during the forenoon, coming from Washington by way of Rappahannock Station, and remained at headquarters most of the time through the entire campaign. His daily, and sometimes hourly, despatches to the War Department, giving the events occurring in the field, constituted a correspondence which is a rare example of perspicuity, accuracy, and vividness of description.

Sheridan had been sent for by Meade to come to his headquarters, and when he arrived, between eleven and twelve o'clock that morning, a very acrimonious dispute took place between the two generals. Meade was possessed [84] of an excitable temper which under irritating circumstances became almost ungovernable. He had worked himself into a towering passion regarding the delays encountered in the forward movement, and when Sheridan appeared went at him hammer and tongs, accusing him of blunders, and charging him with not making a proper disposition of his troops, and letting the cavalry block the advance of the infantry. Sheridan was equally fiery, and, smarting under the belief that he was unjustly treated, all the hotspur in his nature was aroused. He insisted that Meade had created the trouble by countermanding his (Sheridan's) orders, and that it was this act which had resulted in mixing up his troops with the infantry, exposing to great danger Wilson's division, which had advanced as far as Spottsylvania Court-house, and rendering ineffectual all his combinations regarding the movements of the cavalry corps. Sheridan declared with great warmth that he would not command the cavalry any longer under such conditions, and said if he could have matters his own way he would concentrate all the cavalry, move out in force against Stuart's command, and whip it. His language throughout was highly spiced and conspicuously italicized with expletives. General Meade came over to General Grant's tent immediately after, and related the interview to him. The excitement of the one was in singular contrast with the calmness of the other. When Meade repeated the remarks made by Sheridan, that he could move out with his cavalry and whip Stuart, General Grant quietly observed, “Did Sheridan say that? Well, he generally knows what he is talking about. Let him start right out and do it.” By one o'clock Sheridan had received his orders in writing from Meade for the movement. Early the next morning he started upon his famous raid to the vicinity [85] of Richmond in rear of the enemy's army, and made good his word.

After the interview just mentioned, the general-in-chief talked for some time with officers of the staff about the results of the battle of the previous days. He said in this connection: “All things in this world are relative. While we were engaged in the Wilderness I could not keep from thinking of the first fight I ever saw — the battle of Palo Alto. As I looked at the long line of battle, consisting of three thousand men, I felt that General Taylor had such a fearful responsibility resting upon him that I wondered how he ever had the nerve to assume it; and when, after the fight, the casualties were reported, and the losses ascertained to be nearly sixty in killed, wounded, and missing, the engagement assumed a magnitude in my eyes which was positively startling. When the news of the victory reached the States, the windows in every household were illuminated, and it was largely instrumental in making General Taylor President of the United States. Now, such an affair would scarcely be deemed important enough to report to headquarters.” He little thought at that moment that the battles then in progress would be chiefly instrumental in making the commander himself President of the United States.

The movements of the opposing armies now became one of the most instructive lessons in the art of modern warfare. They showed the closeness of the game played by the two great masters who commanded the contending forces, and illustrated how thoroughly those skilled fencers had carte and tierce at their fingers' ends. They demonstrated, also, how far the features of a campaign may be affected by accidents and errors. In the Wilderness the maneuvers had been largely a game of blindman's-buff; they now became more like the play of [86] pussy-wants-a-corner. Anderson had been ordered by Lee, on the evening of May 7, to start for Spottsylvania Court-house the next morning; but Anderson, finding the woods on fire, and no good place to go into camp, kept his troops in motion, continued his march all night, and reached Spottsylvania in the morning. The cavalry which Sheridan had placed at the bridges over the Po River might have greatly impeded Anderson's march; but owing to conflicting orders the movements of the cavalry had been changed, and Anderson occupied a position at Spottsylvania that morning as the result of a series of accidents. When Lee found our wagon-trains were moving in an easterly direction, he made up his mind that our army was retreating, and telegraphed on the 8th to his government at Richmond: “The enemy has abandoned his position, and is moving toward Fredericksburg.” He sent an order the same day to Early, then commanding Hill's corps, saying: “Move by Todd's tavern along the Brock road as soon as your front is clear of the enemy.” It will be seen that in this order he directed a corps to move by a road which was then in full possession of our forces, and Early did not discover this fact till he actually encountered Hancock's troops at Todd's tavern. Early was then compelled to take another road. It was after these movements that General Grant uttered the aphorism, “Accident often decides the fate of battle.”

At 11:30 A. M. General Grant sent a telegram to Halleck, saying: “The best of feeling prevails. . . . Route to the James River . . . not yet definitely marked out.” In talking over the situation at headquarters, he said: “It looks somewhat as if Lee intends to throw his army between us and Fredericksburg, in order to cut us off from our base of supplies. I would not be at all sorry [87] to have such a move made, as in that case I would be in rear of Lee, and between him and Richmond.”

That morning, May 8, the troops under Warren encountered those of Anderson's corps, who were intrenched near Spottsylvania. Warren attacked, but was not able to make much progress, and decided to strengthen his own position and wait until other troops came to his assistance before giving battle. His men had suffered great hardships. They had been under fire for four days, and had just made a long night march to reach their present position. Late in the afternoon Warren and Sedgwick were ordered to attack with all their forces, but it was nearly dark before the assault could be made, and then only half of Sedgwick's command and but one of Warren's divisions participated. There was no decided result from this day's fighting.

Late in the afternoon of the 8th headquarters were moved south about two miles, and camp was pitched in the angle formed by the intersection of the Brock road with the road running south from Piney Branch Church. Lee had by this time comprehended Grant's intentions, and was making all haste to throw his troops between the Union army and Richmond, and take up a strong defensive position. Most of the officers of the staff had been in the saddle since daylight, communicating with the corps commanders, designating the lines of march, and urging forward the troops; and as soon as the tents were pitched that night all who could be spared for a while from duty “turned in” to catch as many winks of sleep as possible.

Every one at headquarters was up at daylight the next morning, prepared for another active day's work. Hancock was now on the right, Warren next, then Sedgwick; Burnside was moving down to go into position [88] on the extreme left. The general expressed his intention to devote the day principally to placing all the troops in position, reconnoitering the enemy's line, and getting in readiness for a combined attack as soon as proper preparations for it could be made. The country was more open than the Wilderness, but it still presented obstacles of a most formidable nature. Four rivers run in a southeasterly direction. Some early pioneer, ingenious in systematic nomenclature, and who was evidently possessed of a due regard for “helps to human memory,” had named the streams respectively, beginning with the most southerly, the Mat, the Ta, the Po, and the Ny, and then deployed these terms in single line, closed them in until they were given a touch of the elbow, and called the formation the Mattapony, the name by which the large river is known into which the four smaller ones flow.

Spottsylvania Court-house lies between the Po and the Ny. While these streams are not wide, their banks are steep in some places and lined by marshes in other. The country is undulating, and was at that time broken by alternations of cleared spaces and dense forests. In the woods there was a thick tangled undergrowth of hazel, dwarf pine, and scrub-oak.

A little before eight o'clock on the morning of May 9, the general mounted his horse, and directed me and two other staff-officers to accompany him to make an examination of the lines in our immediate front. This day he rode a black pony called “Jeff Davis” (given that name because it had been captured in Mississippi on the plantation of Joe Davis, a brother of the Confederate president). It was turned into the quartermaster's department, from which it was purchased by the general on his Vicksburg campaign. He was not well at that time, being afflicted with boils, and he took a fancy [89] to the pony because it had a remarkably easy pace, which enabled the general to make his long daily rides with much more comfort than when he used the horses he usually rode. “Little Jeff” soon became a conspicuous figure in the Virginia campaign.

We proceeded to Sedgwick's command, and the general had a conference with him in regard to the part his corps was to take in the contemplated attack. Both officers remained mounted during the interview. The gallant commander of the famous Sixth Corps seemed particularly cheerful and hopeful that morning, and looked the picture of buoyant life and vigorous health. When his chief uttered some words of compliment upon his recent services, and spoke of. the hardships he had encountered, Sedgwick spoke lightly of the difficulties experienced, and expressed every confidence in the ability of his troops to respond heroically to every demand made upon them. When the general-in-chief left him, Sedgwick started with his staff to move farther to the front. Our party had ridden but a short distance to the left when General Grant sent me back to Sedgwick to discuss with him further a matter which it was thought had not been sufficiently emphasized in their conversation. While I was following the road I had seen him take, I heard musketry-firing ahead, and soon saw the body of an officer being borne from the field. Such a sight was so common that ordinarily it would have attracted no attention, but my apprehensions were aroused by seeing several of General Sedgwick's staff beside the body. As they came nearer I gave an inquiring look. Colonel Beaumont, of the staff, cast his eyes in the direction of the body, then looked at me with an expression of profound sorrow, and slowly shook his head. His actions told the whole sad story. His heroic chief was dead. I was informed that as he was [90] approaching an exposed point of the line to examine the enemy's position more closely, General McMahon, of his staff, reminded him that one or two officers had just been struck at that spot by sharp-shooters, and begged him not to advance farther. At this suggestion the general only smiled, and soon after had entirely forgotten the warning. Indifferent to every form of danger, such an appeal made but little impression upon him. His movements led him to the position against which he had been cautioned, and he had scarcely dismounted and reached the spot on foot when a bullet entered his left cheek just below the eye, and he fell dead. As his lifeless form was carried by, a smile still remained upon his lips. Sedgwick was essentially a soldier. He had never married; the camp was his home, and the members of his staff were his family. He was always spoken of familiarly as “Uncle John,” and the news of his death fell upon his comrades with a sense of grief akin to the sorrow of a personal bereavement.

I rode off at once to bear the sad intelligence to the general-in-chief. For a few moments he could scarcely realize it, and twice asked, “Is he really dead?” The shock was severe, and he could ill conceal the depth of his grief. He said: “His loss to this army is greater than the loss of a whole division of troops.” General Wright was at once placed in command of the Sixth Corps.

At daylight on May 9 Burnside had moved down the road from Fredericksburg, crossed the Ny, driven back a force of the enemy, and finally reached a position within less than two miles of Spottsylvania. By noon it was found that the Confederate army occupied an almost continuous line in front of Spottsylvania, in the form of a semicircle, with the convex side facing north. [91] The demonstrations made by Lee, and the strengthening of his right, revived in General Grant's mind the impression that the enemy might attempt to work around our left, and interpose between us and Fredericksburg; and preparations were made in such case to attack Lee's left, turn it, and throw the Union army between him and Richmond. At noon a package of despatches from Washington reached headquarters, and were eagerly read. They announced that Sherman's columns were moving successfully in northwestern Georgia, that Resaca was threatened, and that Joe Johnston was steadily retreating. A report from Butler, dated the 5th, stated that he had landed at City Point, and reports of the 6th and 7th announced that he had sent out reconnoitering parties on the Petersburg Railroad, and had despatched troops to take possession of it; that he had had some hard fighting, and was then intrenching, and wanted reinforcements. General Grant directed the reinforcements to be sent. Sigel reported that he had not yet met the enemy, and expected to move up the Shenandoah Valley and try to connect with Crook. General Grant did not express any particular gratification regarding these reports, except the one from Sherman, and in fact made very few comments upon them.

Hancock had crossed the Po, and was now threatening Lee's left. On the morning of the 10th Hancock found the enemy's line strongly intrenched, and no general attack was made upon it. Lee had realized the danger threatened, and had hurried troops to his left to protect that flank. Grant, perceiving this, decided that Lee must have weakened other portions of his line, and at once determined to assault his center.

At 9:30 A. M. the general-in-chief sat down in his tent at his little camp-table, and wrote with his own hand, as [92] usual, a despatch to Halleck which began as follows: “The enemy hold our front in very strong force, and evince a strong determination to interpose between us and Richmond to the last. I shall take no backward steps .. .” The last sentence, which I have italicized, attracted no notice at the time on the part of those who read it, but it afterward became historic and took a prominent place among the general's famous sayings.

It was now suggested to him that it would be more convenient to move our camp farther to the left, so as to be near the center, where the assault was to take place, and orders were given to establish it a little more than a mile to the southeast, near the Alsop house. The tents were pitched in a comfortable-looking little dell, on the edge of a deep wood, and near the principal roads of communication.

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