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Chapter 31:

  • Opening of the great spring campaign of 1864.
  • -- explanation of renewed confidence in Richmond. -- prospect for the Confederates in the Presidential contest of 1864. -- a New theory of peace. -- value of endurance. -- the mission of Messrs. Holcombe, Clay, and Thompson. -- they leave Wilmington when the campaign on the Rapidan opens. -- U. S. Grant appointed Lieutenant -- General of the Federal armies. -- character of Grant. -- compared with Buell. -- Gen. Grant's low and gross conception of war. -- the Federal Government prepares an army organization of one million of men. -- distribution of the Federal forces in Virginia. -- strength of the army of the Potomac. -- position and numbers of Gen. Lee. -- his great anxiety. -- appeal of Confederate women. -- the battles of the Wilderness. -- Grant crosses the Rapidan. -- Lee springs upon his flank. -- attack of Ewell and Hill. -- the Confederate line broken. -- Gordon's splendid charge. -- gallant conduct of Pegram's and Hays' divisions. -- night attack of the enemy. -- the second day's battle. -- Hill's corps broken. -- Longstreet comes up and turns the fortunes of the day, -- he is shot down by his own men. -- Gen. Lee offers to lead a charge. -- touching remonstrances of the men. -- the Confederate attack withdrawn. -- results of the day. -- Gordon's night attack. -- Grant's whole army on the verge of rout. -- his immense losses. -- movements of the two armies to Spottsylvania Court-house. -- masterly performance of Lee. -- a melancholy episode to the campaign. -- Sheridan's expedition. -- death of Gen. Stuart. -- battles of Spottsylvania Court-house. -- combat of Anderson's corps. -- the fighting on the 10th May. -- the battle on the 12th. -- a salient of the Confederate line taken. -- great slaughter of the enemy. -- Grant confesses a failure, and waits six days for reinforcements. -- operations on. The south side of Richmond. -- Grant's instructions to Butler. -- Sigel's column in Western Virginia, another part of the combination. -- Butler's boastful despatch. -- he dares “the whole of Lee's army.” -- he is defeated by Beauregard, and his army “bottled up.” -- operations in the Kanawha and Shenandoah Valleys. -- signal defeat of Sigel. -- Grant's combination broken down. -- he moves to the North Anna River. -- is foiled again by Lee. -- he crosses the Pamunkey River. -- “the Peninsula” made the battle-ground again. -- the sum of glory achieved by Lee's army. -- statement as to Lee's reinforcements. -- the Federal host held at bay by an army of fifty thousand men. -- gaseous nonsense in New York about Grant's generalship. -- his operations in May absurd and contemptible failures

It is remarkable that at the opening of the great spring campaign of 1864, there should have simultaneously prevailed at Washington the opinion that the operations of the year would certainly restore the Union, and [508] at Richmond the opinion that the coming campaign was more likely to accomplish the independence of the Southern Confederacy than any preceding one of the war. These opinions were probably equally sincere and intelligent. Some special explanation must be found for a conflict of judgment so sharp and decided. The North trusted to its accumulation of men and material to make the fourth year of the war the triumphant one for its cause. The South, to a certain extent, had been encouraged by the series of successes we have remarked in the first months of this year; but this animation is not sufficient to account for the large measure of expectation and confidence with which she entered upon the dominant campaign of 1864. There was a special occasion of hope and reassurance.

Despite the little benefit, beyond verbal assistance, which the Confederate cause had derived from the Democratic party in the North, and despite the losses of that party in the elections of 1863, it was observed, in the spring of 1864, that it was beginning to raise a peace platform for the next Presidential election. That critical election was the point of a new prospect for the South. It was evident that there was a serious impatience in the North at the prolongation of the war; and it was probable that if the South could maintain the status quo through another campaign, and put before the North the prospect of another and indefinite term of hostilities, the present rulers at Washington would be discredited, the Democratic party get into power, and the Northern public be persuaded to accept as the conclusion of the war some favourable treaty, league, or other terms short of an actual restoration of the Union. It was said, with reason, in Richmond, that such was Northern impatience that the question of the war had simply become one of endurance on the part of the South; that even without positive victories in the field, and merely by securing negative results in the ensuing campaign, the Democratic party would be able to overthrow the Administration at Washington, and to open negotiations with Richmond as between government and government.

How seriously this argument was entertained in Richmond, may be understood from the fact that, simultaneously with the opening of the campaign in Virginia, President Davis prepared a mission to open communication with the Democratic party in the North, and to conduct in pace with the military campaign whatever political negotiation might be practicable in the North. The commissioners entrusted with this intrigue were Messrs. Thompson, of Mississippi, Holcombe, of Virginia, and Clay, of Alabama; and they were to proceed to a convenient place on the Northern frontier, and use whatever political opportunities the military events of the war might develop. They ran the blockade at Wilmington on the night of the day that the first gun on the Rapidan opened the momentous campaign of 1864.

The bloody drama of the war was to recommence on the banks of this [509] stream, where Gen. Lee's army had been stationed during the winter. On the Federal side a new and important actor was to appear on the scene. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who had had a long run of success in the West, had been appointed lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of all the Federal forces, and was now to answer the expectation of his admirers by a campaign in Virginia and the repetition of the enterprise upon the Confederate capital. The Richmond journals complimented him as a “mar of far more energy and ability than any that had yet commanded the Army of the Potomac,” but “his performances would bear no comparison whatever to those of Gen. Lee.”

The new Federal commander in Virginia was one of the most remarkable accidents of the war. That a man without any marked ability, certainly without genius, without fortune, without influence, should attain the position of leader of all the Federal armies, and stand the most conspicuous person on that side of the war, is a phenomenon which would be inexplicable among any other people than the sensational and coarse mobs of admiration in the North. Gen. Grant's name was coupled with success; and this circumstance alone, without regard to merit of personal agency, without reference to any display of mental quality in the event, was sufficient to fix him in the admiration of the Northern public. It mattered not that Grant had illustrated no genius; it mattered not that he had smothered Fort Donelson by numbers; it mattered not that he had succeeded at Vicksburg through the glaring incompetency of a Confederate commander, and by the weight of eighty thousand men against twenty odd thousand; the North was prepared to worship him, without distinguishing between accident and achievement, and to entitle him the hero of the war.

It is a curious commentary on the justice of popular judgment, that while Grant was thus elevated to power and fame, the man who rescued him at Perryville and again at Shiloh, and whose heroism and genius had saved there the consequences of his stupidity, should be languishing in obscurity. This man was Gen. Buell. It was he who had contributed most to Grant's success, and whose masterly maneuvers had done more to reclaim the Mississippi Valley for the Federals than any other commander, and who now had been sacrificed to the spirit of political intrigue. At a time when popular passion clamoured for the desolation of the South, Gen. Buell persisted, with a firmness rarer and more admirable even than he exhibited in the crisis of battle, in conducting the war on the principles of humanity; and by this noble moderation he incurred the displeasure of the faction that controlled the Government at Washington. The Radicals waged a war of extermination; but he proposed, with the sagacity of a statesman, to conciliate the good will of the South, while he overcame its resistance by an exertion of physical force. His system was too refined [510] for the comprehension, and too liberal for the vindictive temper of the dominant party, and he was forced to relinquish the command of the superb army he had organized, and to resign a commission which he might have illustrated by splendid achievements.

It is some consolation to reflect that the verdict of history is neither the sensation of a mob nor the fiat of a political faction. Gen. Grant will have his proper place surely and exactly assigned in the ultimate records of merit in the war. No one will deny this man credit for many good qualities of heart and great propriety of behaviour. He had that coarse, heavy obstinacy, which is as often observed in the Western backwoodsman as in a higher range of character. But he contained no spark of military genius; his idea of war was to the last degree rude — no strategy, the mere application of the vs inertia ; he had none of that quick perception on the field of action which decides it by sudden strokes; he had no conception of battle beyond the momentum of numbers. Such was the man who marshalled all the material resources of the North to conquer the little army and overcome the consummate skill of Gen. Lee. He, who was declared the military genius of the North, had such a low idea of the contest, such little appreciation of the higher aims and intellectual exercises of war that he proposed to decide it by a mere competition in the sacrifice of human life. His plan of operations, as he himself described it, was “to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the Constitution and laws of the land.”

At Washington, the arrangements for the spring campaign of 1864 were made, on the part of the government, to put forth its strength. In all the bureaus of the War Department supplies were provided on a scale of great magnitude, to meet any exigency that could be foreseen. The estimates were based upon an army organization of one million of men. The States were called upon to strengthen the armies by volunteers; new drafts were ordered and put in execution throughout all the Northern States; vast supplies of arms, ammunition, clothing, subsistence, medical stores and forage were provided and distributed in depots to meet the wants of the troops wherever they might operate; horses, mules, wagons, railroad iron, locomotives and cars, bridge timber, telegraph cable and wire, and every material for transportation and communication of great armies under all conditions were supplied. Congress, with unstinting hand, voted large appropriations for recruiting, paying and supplying the troops.

Gen. Grant assumed command as Lieutenant-General of the armies of the United States on the 17th day of March, 1864. The distribution of the Federal armies operating in Virginia was as follows: The Army of [511] the Potomac, commanded by Major-General Meade, had its headquarters on the north side of the Rapidan. The Ninth Corps, under Major-General Burnside, was, at the opening of the campaign, a distinct organization, but on the 24th day of May, 1864, it was incorporated into the Army of the Potomac. The Army of the James was commanded by Major-Gen. Butler, whose headquarters were at Fortress Monroe. The headquarters of the Army of the Shenandoah, commanded by Major-Gen. Sigel, were at Winchester.

The available strength of the enemy's force on the line of the Rapidan, including the Ninth Corps, was 141,166 men. Besides there were in what was known as the Department of Washington and the Middle Department 47,751 men, available as reinforcements to the Army of the Potomac; making therefore a total of about 180,000 men, as the force which Gen. Lee had to meet with less than forty thousand muskets!

The Confederate army on the Rapidan, at the beginning of the campaign, consisted of two divisions of Longstreet's corps, Ewell's corps, A. P. Hill's corps, three divisions of cavalry, and the artillery. Ewell's corps did not exceed fourteen thousand muskets at the beginning of the campaign. On the 8th of May, the effective strength of Hill's corps was less than thirteen thousand muskets, and it could not have exceeded eighteen thousand in the beginning of the month. Longstreet's corps was the weakest of the three when all the divisions were present, and the two with him had just returned from an arduous and exhausting winter campaign in East Tennessee. His effective strength could not have exceeded eight thousand muskets. Gen. Lee's whole effective infantry, therefore, did not exceed forty thousand muskets, if it reached that number. The cavalry divisions were weak, neither of them exceeding the strength of a good brigade. The artillery was in proportion to the other arms, and was far exceeded by Grant's, not only in the number of men and guns, but in weight of metal, and especially in the quality of the ammunition. Gen. Lee's whole effective strength at the opening of the campaign was not over fifty thousand men of all arms. There were no means of recruiting the ranks of his army, and no reinforcements were received until the 23d of May.

The Confederate public was but little aware of this terrible disparity of force; but Gen. Lee was greatly affected by it as he contemplated the thin line which stood between the insolent host of the enemy and the Capital of the Confederacy. In April he issued a general order directing to be observed “a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” All military duties, unless absolutely necessary, were to be suspended, and the chaplains were desired to hold divine service in their regiments and brigades. Officers and men were “requested” to attend. This passed, the final preparations were made for the deadly struggle that, it was evident, would soon commence. “For your stricken country's sake, and ours,” said the [512] “wives, daughters, sisters, and friends” of the Confederate soldiers in a published address to them, “be true to yourselves and our glorious cause. Never turn your back on the flag, nor desert the ranks of honour, or the post of danger. You are constantly present to our minds. The women of the South bestow all their respect and affection on the heroes who defend them.”

The battles of the Wilderness.

Gen. Lee was not idle in adopting all precautionary measures to meet the enemy. He strongly intrenched his lines, dug rifle-pits at the fords of the Rapidan, and kept a good force on the Gordonsville road so as to hold the communication open to Richmond by that route, while by the way of Fredericksburg he destroyed the bridges and rails in order to prevent, or make more difficult, the enemy's advance in that direction.

The works occupied by Lee's army on the Rapidan extended on the right three miles below Raccoon ford. Ewell's corps and Hill's lay behind those defences, and stretched out on each side of Orange Court-House, along a line of twenty miles. Longstreet occupied the country around Gordonsville, thirteen miles southwest of the position on the Rapidan.

Grant, having declined to assail Lee's front, determined to turn it by a movement on the Confederate right. On Tuesday night, May 3d, the Federal army broke up its encampment in the county of Culpepper, and at dawn of next morning crossed the Rapidan at the old fords-Ely's and Germania-and in much the same line that Meade attempted in the previous November, and where Lee had caused Hooker to retreat a year before. The Second corps, commanded by Gen. Hancock, in front, crossed at Ely's ford, the Fifth corps, under Warren, took the Germania ford, while the Sixth, Sedgwick's, followed immediately upon it.

As soon as Gen. Lee ascertained that Grant had certainly cut loose from his base at Culpepper Court House, and was moving rapidly past his right, he put his own army in motion, sending Ewell's corps down the turnpike and A. P. Hill's down the plank road, and ordering Longstreet, who had arrived at Gordonsville, to move his corps down on the right of Ewell's line of march, so as to strike the head of the enemy's column.

The advance of Ewell's corps-Edward Johnson's division-arrived within three miles of Wilderness Run in the evening, and encamped. Rodes lay in his rear; and Early was next at Locust Grove, all ready to strike at Grant's advance the next morning. At about six o'clock in the morning of the 6th May the enemy was discovered by the skirmishers thrown out, and Johnson immediately pressed forward to gain a hill where he proceeded to form his troops in line of battle. [513]

The enemy advanced in such order as was practicable in a tangled forest. The Fifth corps, accompanied by two pieces of artillery, that came thundering along the turnpike, assailed the Confederate line at the intersection of the road. Receiving, as it advanced, a terrible fusilade without any sign of wavering, the rear rank pressing forward those of the front, the attacking masses delivered from a forest of rifles a fast and furious fire upon Johnson's line. Closing in upon it with great spirit in front, and threatening to envelop it on its right, they succeeded, after a brief struggle, in forcing back part of the brigade of Gen. J. M. Jones that had been formed across the turnpike. Jones strove, in desperation, to rally his broken troops, but with no avail; and, as the brave general was imploring his men to stop their flight, a ball struck him, and he fell from his saddle a bleeding corpse.

The decisive moment of the battle was now at hand. Stewart moved from his position in the line of battle to close the gap left in it by the brigade of Jones. As the Federal masses poured through, his men rushed forward with a cheer; and, driving them back by the impetus of their charge, captured their guns. At the same time Ewell ordered Daniels' and Gordon's brigades of Rodes' division to form on the right and charge. Gordon, holding command of the movement, crushed through the enemy's first lines and captured as he went forward a whole regiment, men, officers, and colors. Driving on furiously he struck back the Federal front in confusion upon its supports; and scattering both like leaves before a storm, forced them off the field in utter rout for a mile and a half.

Soon after the onslaught upon the Confederate front, the Sixth corps of the Federal army advanced upon its left flank. The attack here was repulsed by Pegram's and Hay's division. The furious onslaught of Hay's men did not expend itself until they had forced the enemy to retreat in confusion for nearly a mile. In advance of all others on that face of the attack, these splendid troops, having left nearly one-third of their number on the field, fell back with Pegram's gallant men to the general line of battle.

Skirmishing continued outside the lines. Immediately before the close of the evening, the skirmishers of Pegram, on Johnson's left, came running in, and soon afterwards his sharpshooters sprang back from their riflepits in his immediate front. A column, three lines deep, moved upon him from the depths of the forest, and, firing heavily as they came on, pressed towards his works furiously. His stanch Virginians, however, met the attack resolutely, and, covered partially by their works, hurled volley after volley in withering blasts, breast high, into its serried ranks.

But the work of carnage was not yet sufficient for Grant. In five lines a column renewed the attack after nightfall; but did so without other result than to increase terribly the hundreds of men that, dead or dying outside [514] the Confederate works, lay weltering in their gore. Pegram fell in this last attack severely wounded. The repulse which he guided as he fell, closed the work of war for the day on the left, and witnessed the Confederates still in possession of their improved position and advanced lines.

The results of the day were that the enemy had been beaten back as often as he advanced, with heavy loss, including two thousand prisoners and four guns. Longstreet not having arrived, owing to the greater distance he had to march, Gen. Lee refrained from pressing his advantage, and slept upon the battle-field. His own loss was comparatively slight, his troops understanding how to take advantage of the rough country and entangled woods in which they fought. Longstreet reached a point ten miles from the battle-field by the middle of the afternoon, but, owing to the peculiar condition of the atmosphere, and the density of the forest, he was unable to hear the report of Hill's and Ewell's guns, and was ignorant that the two armies had been engaged until midnight, when he received an order from Gen. Lee to cross over to the plank road to the aid of Hill.

It was two o'clock in the morning of the 6th when Longstreet aroused his sleeping men from their bivouac, and marched on to the field of battle. Hill's troops were aware of his approach, and that he was to take their place on the line, and, having been marching and fighting all the previous day, and sleeping but little that night, they got ready to retire as the head of Longstreet's corps reached the ground. Unfortunately, Grant renewed the attack just at this time, threw Heth's and Wilcox's divisions of Hill's corps into confusion, and pushed them back upon Longstreet's column, which had not yet deployed into line.

The disordered ranks surged already within one hundred and fifty yards of the position of Gen. Lee. But at this moment three regiments of Kershaw's division came into line, and this Spartan band held the enemy in check until the remainder of the division and finally Longstreet's entire corps could be brought up. Then ensued a furious and bloody combat all along Longstreet's front. His veteran corps, which had made the circuit of half the Confederacy within the last twelve months, never fought better or more successfully. Grant had taken advantage of the disorder among Hill's troops, and hurled heavy masses upon the point, hoping to turn the Confederate right wing, and throw himself between Lee and Richmond. He would have succeeded but for Longstreet's timely arrival.

At 11 o'clock Longstreet was ordered, with some select brigades, to pass to the right and attack the enemy in flank. The order was promptly executed. Falling suddenly upon Grant's left, he drove the enemy in confusion, bending his line back upon itself, and gaining the plank road a mile in advance of the scene of the recent conflict.

The fortunes of the day were evidently turned. Gen. Longstreet now [515] moved forward with his staff to take his place at the head of the advance; and was received as he passed along the moving mass with shots of applause. As he galloped forward, Gen. Jenkins spurred to his side to grasp his hand, with the pleasure of an old friend,--for Longstreet had but newly arrived from several months' campaign in Eastern Tennessee. But, hardly had the mutual congratulations passed each other's lips, when a deadly volley from Mahone's brigade, concealed in bushes along the road --mistaking Longstreet, Jenkins, and the rest, for a party of the flying foe --poured into them, at short range. Jenkins fell instantly from his horse a lifeless corpse, while Longstreet received a ball that entered his throat and passed out through his right shoulder. Bleeding profusely, he was helped from his horse so prostrated that fears were entertained of his immediate death. Placed on a litter, the wounded General was removed from the field; but feeble though he was from loss of blood, he did not fail to lift his hat from time to time as he passed down the column, in acknowledgment of its cheers of applause and sympathy.

The fall of Longstreet was an untimely event, and the delay it occasioned gave opportunity to the enemy to reform his line. The field was well contested on both sides; but at one time the aspect of affairs was so alarming that Gen. Lee had, as Fields' division came under fire, placed himself at the head of Gregg's brigade of Texans. With that devotion which constituted the great charm of his character, he ordered them to follow him in a charge upon a line of the enemy, sweeping down upon his front. The response was not shouts. A grim and ragged soldier of the line raised his voice in determined remonstrance. He was immediately followed by the rank and file of the whole brigade in positive refusal to advance until their beloved commander had gone to his proper position of safety. Yielding to this touching solicitude, Gen. Lee withdrew, while the brave Texans fulfilled the promise by which they had urged his withdrawal, and, breasting a storm of bullets, drove the enemy on their front back to his entrenchments. What was the exposure of the devoted commander during the day, may be judged from the circumstances of the explosion of a shell under his own horse, the killing of the horse of his Adjutant-Gen., Lieut.-Col. Taylor, and the wounding of another officer attached to his person, Lieut.-Col. Marshall,--events which caused great and most affectionate anxiety in the army, and determined the troops to watch more carefully over a life in which they considered were bound up the fortunes of their country.

So far the enemy had been driven back on the Confederate right, and was firmly held in check; while on the left, Ewell, battling severely, and defeating an attempt of the enemy to outflank him, held his own, and joined his line of battle with that which had been restored on the right wing. During the afternoon Brig.-Gen. Wofford, of Anderson's corps, [516] was permitted, at his own request, to move upon the rear of the Federal left wing. He got possession of their camps, destroyed and brought off a good deal of material, and created great consternation among the teamsters and quartermasters. About twilight Brig.-Gen. Gordon, of Ewell's corps, attacked the enemy's left, captured Gen. Seymour and a large portion of his brigade, and excited a panic which put Grant's whole army on the verge of irretrievable rout. Brigade after brigade fled from the Federal works, and, attempting, one after another, to wheel around into line in order to check the advance, was borne back under the rapidity of Gordon's movement. The woods in front were alive with masses of men, struggling to escape with life. Gordon swept all before him for a distance of two miles. But the forest through which he advanced was so dense with undergrowth, that by the nightfall he had become separated from his supports. He paused before he had completed a movement that came near completely routing tie entire Federal right. The enterprise, notwithstanding its incompleteness, was crowned with brilliant success. The Confederate loss in that service numbered, in killed and wounded, but twenty-seven, while on the enemy's side Gens. Shaler and Seymour, with the greater part of their commands, were taken prisoners, and the entire Sixth corps of the Army of the Potomac had been broken up in panic.

In these two days of terrible battle in the Wilderness the Confederate wounded, by the official reports of the surgeons, were estimated at six thousand, and their killed at less than one thousand. The wounds were comparatively slight, owing to the protection afforded by the trees and the absence of artillery, which could not be used in consequence of the dense and almost unbroken forest. The loss of the enemy was out of all proportion to what it had inflicted: 269 officers and 3,019 men killed; 1,017 officers and 18,261 men wounded, and 177 officers and 6,667 men missing-making an aggregate of 27,310.

On the 7th May, both armies moved their position-Grant's to take an interiour road towards Richmond by the Spottsylvania Court-house, and Lee's, back, apparently, towards Orange Court-house, but in reality to reach Spottsylvania before the enemy. The advance of Lee arrived first and took up a good position, the main army quickly following. The situation which the Northern newspapers interpreted as “the retreat of Lee” bore in every respect the evidences of his generalship and success. He had succeeded in throwing his entire army right across the path by which Grant must march if he would get “on to Richmond.” --He had not only repulsed all his assaults at the Wilderness, but held him there until he could throw his own army in front of him. It was a masterly performance, and made it necessary for Grant to deliver battle there or make another effort to turn the Confederate position.

To this movement there was an episode, which is chiefly remarkable [517] for the fall in it of Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, the brilliant commander of the Confederate cavalry in Virginia. An expedition of Federal cavalry, commanded by Gen. Sheridan, was directed to make a bold dash around Lee's flank towards Richmond. It passed around the right flank of the Confederates to the North Anna River; committed some damage at Beaver Dam; moved thence to the South Anna and Ashland Station, where the railroad was destroyed; and finally found its way to the James River, where it joined the forces of Butler. On the 10th May, a portion of Sheridan's command, under Custer and Merrill, were encountered by a body of Stuart's cavalry near Ashland, at a place called Yellow Tavern, on the road to Richmond. An engagement took place here. In a desperate charge, at the head of a column, Gen. Stuart fell, terribly wounded. He was immediately taken to Richmond, and every effort made to save his valuable life; but in vain. He died the next day.1


Battles of Spottsylvania Court-House.

As Lee's advance-consisting of Longstreet's corps under Anderson reached Spottsylvania Court-house, on the 9th May, the men had been [519] marching rapidly, and for two miles had double-quicked it, and consequently were much jaded. But they were ready for work, tired as they were. Klershaw's division led the corps, and was the first to reach the ground. Two brigades were sent against a cavalry force of the enemy holding the Court-house, and two others were placed behind a thin rail fence and some frail obstructions which had been thrown across the road [520] by which a force of Federal infantry was advancing. The latter fell into the errour of supposing that the force behind the fence was dismounted cavalry, and rushed forward with the utmost confidence. The Confederates reserved their fire until their foes got within a few paces, and then, taking deliberate aim, gave them a volley which covered the ground with their slain. The combat was short and sharp; some of the Federals got to the fence, and actually used the bayonet; but in less than half an hour they were driven rapidly back, leaving five hundred dead and mortally wounded, and two hundred prisoners in the hands of the victorious Confederates.

On the 10th May, the struggle was renewed at an early hour, Warren's corps being the one most hotly engaged against the Confederates, though all were fighting heavily. About half-past 5 P. M. two divisions of Hancock's Second corps crossed the Po River, and advanced against Lee's left, making a strong show of giving battle there. Lee, supposing the enemy was massing forces at that point, moved his troops during the night and next day to that quarter, but, in the morning of the 12th, it was found that Hancock was again in the centre, and vigorously assaulting Johnson's division.

This division held a salient of the Confederate line; and as the enemy, taking the forces within in flank, rushed over the angle, they were quickly in possession of the work, capturing most of Johnson's men along with their commander, and taking twenty pieces of artillery. Charge after charge was made by the Confederates to regain what ground they had lost. It was a conflict of sublime fury and terrible carnage. The dead and wounded lay piled over each other, “the latter often underneath the former.” What remained of Ewell's corps held the enemy in check with a courage that nothing could subdue. Gen. Hill moved down from the right, joined Ewell, and threw his divisions into the struggle; Longstreet came on from the extreme left of the Confederate line; it was a dead-lock of slaughter, in which neither side gained ground, and the intervening spaces were piled with the slain. At the close of the day the enemy held about three hundred yards of the Confederate works; he had taken twenty-five pieces of artillery and about two thousand men in Johnson's division; he had inflicted a loss of about six or seven thousand; but his own loss was stated at eighteen thousand men, and at this cost he had purchased what the Northern newspapers called a “brilliant victory,” but of which Gen. Grant had been candid enough to state: “The advantage gained did not prove decisive.”

Thus, without decisive results-certainly without any appreciable advantage on the Northern side-had been fought a series of battles such as had never been compressed into so many days in the history of man, and such as had never before been exhibited by a single army, contending [521] against an adversary more than three times its numbers. In those days Lee's army made its surpassing record of heroism. Grant was not shamed. The Moloch of the North had not yet been sated. The great military genius that was to resolve generalship into the fierce and brutal consumption of human life, who had taken the field with triple Lee's numbers, found it necessary, after the first series of conflicts to call for reinforcements, and that before his adversary had received one additional musket for his own thinned ranks. From the 13th to the 18th May, Grant consumed the time in maneuvering and awaiting the arrival of reinforcements from Washington. He attempted to compose the anxiety of the authorities there by a display of resolution. He telegraphed to President Lincoln: “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”

Operations on the South side of Richmond.

While Grant was engaged on the Rapidan, there were other movements in progress which were parts of his combination, and which belong to the great military drama in Virginia.

The column of Butler-what was known as the Army of the James--was the most important correspondent of his movement, intended to operate against Richmond on the south side. In advance of the movements on the Rapidan, the following letter of instructions was addressed to Gen. Butler, explaining the part of the campaign against Richmond assigned to him:

Fort Monroe, Va., April 2, 1864.
General: In the spring campaign, which it is desirable shall commence at as early a day as practicable, it is proposed to have co-operative action of all the armies in the field, as far as this object can be accomplished.

It will not be possible to unite our armies into two or three large ones to act as so many units, owing to the absolute necessity of holding on to the territory already taken from the enemy. But, generally speaking, concentration can be practically effected by armies moving to the interiour of the enemy's country from the territory they have to guard. By such movements they interpose themselves between the enemy and the country to be guarded, thereby reducing the number necessary to guard important points, or at least occupy the attention of a part of the enemy's force, if no greater object is gained. Lee's army and Richmond being the greater objects towards which our attention must be directed in the next campaign, it is desirable to unite all the force we can against them. The necessity of covering Washington with the Army of the Potomac and of covering your Department with your army makes it impossible to unite these forces at the beginning of any move. I propose, therefore, what comes nearest this of anything that seems practicable. The Army of the Potomac will act from its present base, Lee's array being the objective point. You will collect all the forces from your command that can be spared from garrison duty, I should say not less than twenty thousand effective men-to operate on the south side of James River, Richmond being your objective point. To the [522] force you already have will be added about ten thousand men from South Carolina, under Maj.-Gen. Gillmore, who will command them in person. Maj.-Gen. W. F. Smith is ordered to report to you, to command the troops sent into the field from your own Department.

Gen. Gillmore will be ordered to report to you at Fortress Monroe, with all the troops on transports, by the 18th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable. Should you not receive notice by that time to move, you will make such disposition of them and your other forces as you may deem best calculated to deceive the enemy as to the real move to be made.

When you are notified to move, take City Point with as much force as possible. Fortify, or rather entrench, at once, and concentrate all your troops for the field there as rapidly as you can. From City Point directions cannot be given at this time for your further movements.

The fact that has already been stated — that is, that Richmond is to be your objective point, and that there is to be co-operation between your force and the Army of the Potomac-must be your guide. This indicates the necessity of your holding close to the south bank of the James River as you advance. Then, should the enemy be forced into his entrenchments in Richmond, the Army of the Potomac would follow, and by means of transports the two armies would become a unit.

All the minor details of your advance are left entirely to your direction. If, however, you think it practicable to use your cavalry south of you so as to cut the railroad about Hicks' Ford, about the time of the general advance, it would be of immense advantage.

You will please forward for my information at the earliest practicable day, all orders, details, and instructions you may give for the execution of this order.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General. Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler.

From this exposition of Grant's designs upon the Confederate capital, it appears that he calculated to fight Lee between Culpepper and Richmond, and failing to defeat him away from his base, to make a junction with Butler's army on the James River, with the prospect that the latter would be able to invest Richmond on the south side, with its left resting on the James above the city.

But there was yet another part of Grant's ambitious and sweeping plan of operations in Virginia. He might take Richmond, without capturing the Government machinery, and without overthrowing Lee's army. In that view, further operations were necessary to isolate Richmond, and destroy its railroad communications. Gen. Sigel was therefore directed to organize all his available force into two expeditions, to move from Beverly to Charleston, under command of Gens. Ord and Crook, against the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. Subsequently, Gen. Ord, having been relieved at his own request, Gen. Sigel was instructed at his own suggestion, to give up the expedition by Beverly, and to form two columns, one under Gen. Crook, on the Kanawha, numbering about ten thousand men, and one on the Shenandoah, numbering about seven thousand men; the one on the Shenandoah to assemble between Cumberland and the Shenandoah, [523] and the infantry and artillery moved to Cedar Creek with such cavalry as could be made available at the moment, to threaten the enemy in the Shenandoah Valley, and advance as far as possible; while Gen. Crook would take possession of Lewisburg with part of his force, and move down the Tennessee Railroad, doing as much damage as he could.

Gen. Butler moved his main force up the James River, in pursuance of instructions, on the 4th May, Gillmore having joined him with the Tenth Corps. On the 5th he occupied, without opposition, both City Point and Bermuda Hundred. On the 6th he was in position with his main army, and commenced entrenching. On the 7th he made a reconnoissance against the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, destroying a bridge seven miles from the former place, from which he took the conceit that he had now got well to the rear of the Confederate capital, and held “the key to the back-door of Richmond.” He telegraphed to Washington: “We have landed here, entrenched ourselves, destroyed many miles of railroad, and got a position which, with proper supplies, we can hold out against the whole of Lee's army!” This boast was to come to a singular conclusion.

In the month of April, the services and command of Gen. Beauregard had been called into requisition from Charleston to strengthen the defences around Richmond. On the 21st April, he passed through Wilmington with a large body of troops, and assumed command of the district on the south and east of Richmond. On the 16th May he attacked Butler in his advanced position in front of Drewry's Bluff. The action was sharp and decisive. Butler was forced back into his entrenchments between the forks of the James and Appomattox Rivers; and Beauregard, entrenching strongly in his front, covered the railroads, the city, and all that was valuable to him. Butler's army was thus effectually cut off from all farther operations against Richmond, as much so, wrote Gen. Grant, “as if his army had been in a bottle strongly corked.”

Operations in the Kanawha and Shenandoah Valleys.

While Butler was thus neutralized, the movement in the Kanawha and Shenandoah Valleys, under Sigel, was to end in disaster. Gen. Crook, who had the immediate command of the Kanawha expedition, divided his forces into two columns, giving one, composed of cavalry, to Gen. Averill. They crossed the mountains by separate routes. Averill struck the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, near Wytheville, on the 19th May, and, proceeding to New River and Christiansburg, destroyed the road, several important bridges and depots, including New River Bridge, forming a junction with Crook at Union. Gen. Sigel moved up the Shenandoah Valley, and on the 15th was encountered near Newmarket by Gen. Breckinridge, [524] who drove the enemy across the Shenandoah, captured six pieces of artillery, and nearly one thousand stand of small arms, and inflicted upon him a heavy loss; Sigel abandoning his hospitals and destroying the larger portion of his train. This signal defeat of Sigel was the occasion of his removal, and the appointment of Hunter to take command of the forces with a larger design, reaching to Lynchburg and Charlottesville, the operations of which, however, were reserved for another month.

The secondary parts of the operations of the month of May against Richmond having thus failed, Gen. Grant, despite his expressed determination to fight all summer on the line he held at Spottsylvania, proposed a movement to the North Anna River, by which he hoped to flank the little army of Lee, that he no longer could hope, even by the “hammering” process, to beat in the open field. Previous, however, to the commencement of this movement, he made an assault, on the 19th May, on Ewell's line, with the view of turning Lee's left; but this failed, and the Federals returned to their camps after a heavy loss. On the night of the 21st the movement to the North Anna was commenced. Gen. Lee was thus necessarily obliged to evacuate his position on the Po, and, by an admirable movement, took up a new position between the North and South Anna Rivers before Grant's army had reached its new destination.

Foiled again, and finding his agile adversary again in his path, Grant found it necessary, on the 24th May, to make another flank movement, by recrossing the North Anna, and marching easterly towards the Pamunkey. To cover his plans, an attack was made on Lee's left, while a portion of Sheridan's cavalry tore up the Central Railroad. But the great Confederate was fully master of the situation, and could not be easily blinded. He comprehended Grant's tactics; he was as prompt in his movements; and he was far more skilful in his strategy than the Federal commander. Accordingly, no sooner did Grant's army, on the 28th, arrive at Hanovertown, on the Pamunkey, fifteen miles northeast of Richmond, than it was found the Confederates were in line of battle, from Atlee's Station, on the railroad, ten or eleven miles north of Richmond to Shady Grove, eight or nine miles north-northeast of the capital. The next day, Grant's forces were across the Pamunkey, marching towards Richmond; and reinforcements from Butler's army, on the James River, were arriving at White House, which once formed the Federal base of supplies.

The singular fortune of war had again made the Peninsula a deadly battle-ground. One month had hardly elapsed since the campaign had begun; and its record of carnage in this brief time was unsurpassed, while, on the other hand, never, in such a space, had such a sum of glory been achieved as that which now illuminated the arms of Lee. When he stood in array against Grant at the Rapidan, his force was not more than fifty thousand men. It was this force which had compelled Grant, after the [525] fighting at the Wilderness and around Spottsylvania Court-house, to wait six days for reinforcements from Washington before he could move, and had baffled his favourite plan of reaching Richmond. Lee never received a single item of reinforcement until the 23d of May. At Hanover Junction, he was joined by Pickett's division of Longstreet's corps, one small brigade of Early's division of Ewell's corps, which had been in North Carolina with Hoke, and two small brigades, with a battalion of artillery under Breckinridge. The force under Breckinridge, which Grant estimated at fifteen thousand, did not exceed two thousand muskets. When he fell back to the lines immediately about Richmond, Gen. Lee was joined there by Hoke's division from Petersburg; but at the same time Breckinridge's force had to be sent back into the Shenandoah Valley, and Ewell's corps, with two battalions of artillery, had to be detached under Gen. Early's command to meet the demonstrations of Hunter upon Lynchburg. This counterbalanced all reinforcements. The foregoing statement shows, indeed, that the disparity of forces between the two armies in the beginning of the campaign was never lessened after they reached the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg, but, on the contrary, was largely increased. It has well been asked, by a commentator on these remarkable facts: “What would have been the result, if the resources in men and munitions of war of the two commanders had been reversed?”

The fact was that Grant, notwithstanding his immense preponderance of men and material, had, after losses almost equalling Lee's numbers, utterly failed in his design of defeating the heroic Army of Northern Virginia away from its base, and pushing the fragments before him down to Richmond, and had been forced to cover up his failure by adopting the derided Peninsular scheme of McClellan. Tie Northern public, however, professed to find occasion of exultation in the reflection that he was within a few miles from Richmond, without considering that Lee's army was as much a protection there as a hundred miles away, and that Grant had only by a monstrous circuit, reached a point, where, ascending the waters of Virginia, he might have landed at the very beginning of the campaign without loss or opposition. It was a remarkable exhibition of the gaseous nonsense of New York that a mob of twenty-five thousand persons should have assembled in that city “to render the thanks of the nation to Gen Grant” for a feat which was, simply and at once, absurd, disastrous, shocking, and contemptible.

1 From some memoirs of Gen. Stuart, collected from his staff officers, we extract some incidents indicative of the character of the man, designated as the “Prince Rupert of the Confederate army:”

One of the marked traits of this preux chevalier was his indifference to danger, which impressed every one. It would be difficult to imagine a coolness more supreme. It was not that he seemed to defy peril-he appeared unconscious of it. At the battle of Oxhill, in September, 1862, he advanced a piece of artillery down the road to Fairfax Court-house, and suddenly found himself in the presence of a buzzing hornet's nest of Federal sharp-shooters, who rose from the tall weeds a few score yards distant, and poured a deadly fire into the cannoniers. Stuart was at the gun directing the firing, and sat on his horse, full front to the fire, with so perfect an air of unconsciousness that it was hard to believe that he realized his danger. When a staff officer said, “This fire is rather peculiar, General,” Stuart seemed to wake up, as it were, to whistling bullets, and said, indifferently, “ It is getting rather warm.” He met his death in this way, and the only matter for astonishment is that he was not killed long before. He was constantly on the most advanced line of skirmishers, cheering them on, the most conspicuous mark to the enemy. He used to laugh when he was warned against such exposure of himself, and said that he was not afraid of any ball “ aimed at him; ” but I know that he never expected to get through the war. He deeply deplored its existence, and said, one day, “ I would lay down my right hand and have it cut off at the wrist to end it.” But he was conscientious in his espousal of the Southern cause, and was ready to die for it.

The habitual temper of his mind toward his adversaries was cool and soldierly. Federal prisoners were treated by him with uniform courtesy, and often left his headquarters declaring that they would never forget the kindness they had experienced. I remember an appeal once made to him by a prisoner, which amused everybody. One of his escort spoke roughly to the prisoner, when the latter, seeing the General, exclaimed : “ Gen. Stuart, I did not come here to be blackguarded,” at which Stuart laughed good-humouredly, and reprimanded the person who had addressed the prisoner.

At Verdiersville, in August, 1862, Stuart stopped at a deserted house on the roadside, and lay down with his staff and escort, without videttes, pickets, or other precaution. The consequence was that he was aroused by the tramp of Federal cavalry close on him, and had just time to throw himself, hatless, on his unbridled horse, leap the fence and fly. He left his hat, coat, and gloves, which his adversaries carried off in triumph; but at Catlett's soon after retorted by capturing General Pope's coat and hat, which was a fair offset.

The gay, humorous, and high spirits of the man, did not wholly desert him even on the most serious occasions. Nothing was more common than to hear him humming a song during an engagemeant, and I was reading the other day somewhere a soldier's description of a fight in Culpepper, and what an electric effect was produced upon the infantry by the appearance of Stuart riding in front of them, singing gaily and cheering them on. At Chancellorsville, when Jackson fell, he was called to command the corps, and led the assault in person on the next morning. An eye witness says that he could not get rid of the idea that Henry of Navarre had come back, except that Stuart's “plume” was black! Everywhere, like Navarre, he was in front, and the men “followed the feather.” At the risk, however, of spoiling this romantic picture, and passing from the sublime to what some persons may call the ridiculous, an additional fact may be stated, namely: That Gen. Stuart, attacking with Jackson's veteran corps, and carrying line after line of works, moved at the head of his men, singing “ Old Joe Hooker, will you come out of the wilderness.”

There was nothing notable in Stuart's habits except his abstinence from all stimulants, coffee excepted. At his broad, paper-covered desk, in the long winter evenings, he busied himself not with “official” work only. A favourite amusement with him was the composition of parodies in verse, some of them exceedingly good. He was not a great reader. He was fonder of society, of telling stories, jesting, and whiling away time with his staff. No boy could be merrier than Stuart, at such moments, and he dearly loved a practical joke.

No analysis of military movements or discussion of military endowments is here intended; but it is almost impossible to separate Stuart, the man, from Stuart, the soldier. He was ready for a “fight or a frolic,” and gifted by nature with an enormous animal physique, which enabled him to defy fatigue, whether produced by marching night and day, or dancing until dawn. Ambitious, fond of glory, and sensitive to blame or praise, he was yet endowed with a bold and independent spirit which enabled him to defy all enemies. He was warm-hearted, and never did man love friends more dearly. Stuart always seemed to be a perfect embodiment of the traits generally attributed to the English cavaliers. There was in him a rollicking love of frolic, a gallantry towards ladies, a fondness for bright colors, brilliant spectacles, and gay adventure, which made him resemble strongly the class of men who followed the fortunes of Charles the I., and at Naseby died rather than retreat or surrender. Stuart's nerve was of stern stuff, and under all that laughter there was a soul that no peril could touch. That bright blue eye looked into the very face of death without a quiver of the lid, and dared the worst. A man more absolutely indifferent to danger, I believe, never lived; and, like some chevalier of olden days, he rode to battle with his lady's glove upon his helm, humming a song, and determined to conquer or fall.

The following account of Gen. Stuart's last moments was published in the Richmond newspapers:

About noon, President Davis visited his bedside and spent some time with the dying chief. In reply to the question put by the President, “ General, how do you feel? ” he replied, “ Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny, and done my duty.”

During the day, occasional delirium attacked him, and, in his moments of mental wandering, his faculties were busy with the past. His campaigns on the Peninsula, his raid into Pennsylvania, his doings on the Rapidan, and his several engagements, were subjects that quickly chased themselves through his brain. Fresh orders were given as if still on the battlefield and injunctions to his couriers to “ make haste.” Then he would wander to his wife and children, one of whom, his eldest boy, had died a year previous, while fighting on the Rappahannock, and in relation to whom he had said, when receiving a telegram that the boy was dying, “ I must leave my child in the hands of God; my country needs me here; I cannot come.” Then his mind would again carry him on to the battlefield; and so it continued throughout the day. Occasionally his intellect was clear, and he was then calm and resigned, though at times suffering the most acute agony. He would even, with his own hand, apply the ice that was intended to relieve the pain of his wound.

As evening wore on, mortification set in rapidly. In answer to his inquiry, he was told that death was fast approaching. He then said, “I am resigned, if it be God's will, but I would like to see my wife. But, God's will be done.” Several times he roused up, and asked if she had come. Unfortunately, she was in the country at the time, and did not arrive until too late.

As the last moments approached, the dying man, with a mind perfectly clear and possessed, then made a disposition of his effects. To Mrs. Gen. R. E. Lee, he directed that the golden spurs be given as a dying memento of his love and esteem for her husband. To his staff officers he gave his horses; and other mementoes he disposed of in a similar manner. To his young son he left his sword. He then turned to the Rev. Dr. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, of which he was a strict member, and asked him to sing the hymn commencing:

Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

In this he joined with all the strength of voice his failing powers permitted. He then prayed with the minister and friends around him; and, with the words, “ I am going fast now. I am resigned; God's will be done,” yielded his fleeting spirit to Him who gave it.

The funeral of this much lamented and brave general took place on the 13th, at five o'clock, from St. James's Church, corner of Marshall and Fifth streets.

At the appointed hour the cortege appeared in front of the church, and the metallic coffin, containing the remains of the noble soldier, whose now silent voice had so often startled the enemy with his stirring battle-cry, was carried down the centre-aisle, and placed before the altar. Wreaths and a cross of evergreens, interwoven with delicate lilies of the valley, laurel, and other flowers of purest white, decked the coffin.

The pall-bearers were Gen. Bragg, Maj.-Gen. McCown, Gen. Chilton, Brig.-Gen. Lawton, Commodore Forrest, Capt. Lee, of the navy, and Gen. George W. Randolph, formerly Secretary of War.

The scene was sad and impressive. President Davis sat near the front, with a look of grief upon his careworn face; his cabinet officers were gathered around, while on either side were the Senators and Representatives of the Confederate Congress. Scattered through the church were a number of generals and other officers of less rank, among the former Gen. Ransom, commanding the Department of Richmond. Hundreds of sad faces witnessed the scene; but the brave Fitz Hugh Lee and other war-wearied and war-worn men, whom the dead Stuart had so often led where the red battle was fiercest, and who would have given their lives for his, were away in the fight, doubtless striking with a double courage as they thought of their fallen general.

The short service was read by Rev. Dr. Peterkin, a funeral anthem sung, and the remains were carried out and placed in the hearse, which proceeded to Hollywood Cemetery, followed by a long train of carriages.

No military escort accompanied the procession, but the hero was laid in his last resting-place on the hillside, while the earth trembled with the roar of artillery and the noise of the deadly strife of armies — the one bent upon desecrating and devastating his native land, and the other, proudly and defiantly standing in the path and invoking the blessing of Heaven upon their cause, to fight in better cheer for the memory of such as Stonewall Jackson and J. E. B. Stuart.

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