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Chapter 32:

On the 25th of March, 1865, Lee had still seventy thousand effective men in the lines at Richmond and Petersburg, while the armies of the Potomac and the James and Sheridan's cavalry, constituting Grant's immediate command, numbered one hundred and [439] eleven thousand soldiers.1 After the long campaign through the Carolinas, Sherman could not be ready to move again until the 10th of April, but on that day he was to start for the Roanoke river, and thence [440] either strike the Danville road or join the forces operating against Richmond, as the general-in-chief might determine. Grant's own movement to the left was fixed for the 29th of March, and, unless it was immediately and completely successful, he meant to send Sheridan to destroy the Danville and Southside railroads, and then allow him to move into North Carolina and join Sherman. By this strategy the commands of Lee and Johnston would both be enclosed and driven to a common centre. If they attempted to unite in order to fall upon Sherman, Grant would follow Lee as rapidly as possible; or, if events rendered this course unadvisable, Sherman could be brought to Grant whenever necessary; while Sheridan moved between, destroying the communications of both the rebel armies.

Grant had now spent many days of anxiety lest each morning should bring the news that the enemy had retreated the night before. He was firmly convinced that the crossing of the Roanoke by Sherman would be the signal for Lee to leave; and if Johnston and Lee were combined, a long and tedious and expensive campaign, consuming most of the summer, might become inevitable. His anxiety was well founded; for, during Sherman's delay, the rebel [441] commanders were conferring in order to effect a junction.

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