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Chapter 26:

  • Grant's original plan at the West to move to the sea
  • -- plan turned over to Sherman when Grant became general-in-chief -- co-operation of Banks and Canby prevented by Red river disaster -- Sherman first proposes destruction of railroad to the rear -- unity of instinct between Grant and Sherman -- Sherman reverts to original plan -- Grant first suggests movement to Savannah, instead of Mobile -- Sherman promptly accepts suggestion -- development of views of the two commanders -- Hood moves to rear and threatens Sherman's communications -- Sherman obliged to follow -- Grant makes a movement before Richmond to prevent Lee reinforcing Hood -- Sherman still anxious for his onward march -- Sherman first suggests leaving Hood in his rear -- Hood attacks Chattanooga railroad and Sherman again compelled to follow -- Grant meanwhile arranges for Sherman's march to the sea -- attack and defence of Allatoona -- repulse of rebels -- Sherman again suggests moving to Savannah, leaving Thomas to contend with Hood -- Grant at first prefers Sherman to destroy Hood before moving to sea -- Sherman repeats suggestion -- Grant sanctions movement, if line of Tennessee can be held -- Mutual confidence of Sherman and Grant -- superior responsibility of Grant -- daring of Sherman's conception -- comparison of Sherman's plan with that of Grant behind Vicksburg -- difference between Grant's original plan and modifications of Sherman -- originality of Sherman -- movement of Grant on the James in support of Sherman and Sheridan -- orders to Butler and Meade -- Grant has small expectation of capturing Richmond at this time -- hopes to gain advantage before Petersburg -- complicated responsibilities of general-in-chief -- movement of Butler from Deep Bottom -- capture of Fort Harrison -- Ord wounded -- national advance interrupted -- Grant enters captured work -- assault by Birney repelled -- no further advantage gained north of James -- correspondence of Grant with President in regard to Sheridan -- Sheridan's operations facilitated by movement on James -- Meade moves out to left -- Warren captures work on Peeble's farm -- Ninth corps. At first forced back, but afterwards rallies -- Warren holds his position -- three rebel assaults on Fort Harrison -- Butler retains his prize -- rebels with- [40] draw within their lines -- advantage gained by Grant on both flanks—--balancing character of operations -- consternation in Richmond -- anxiety of Lee.

In the midst of Sheridan's brilliant successes in the Valley, the general-in-chief was obliged to turn his attention to the new situation in Georgia; for as soon as Atlanta was won, it became necessary to determine what use should be made of Sherman's victorious army. Grant's original plan, while he still commanded in person at the West, had been to acquire Atlanta, and then, retaining possession of that important Place, to fight his way to the sea, thus dividing the Confederacy again, as had already been done when the Mississippi was opened the year before. Mobile was the point he desired to strike, and a co-operative movement, under Sherman or McPherson, was designed, to secure that place as a new base for his army, when it arrived. On the 15th of January, two months before Grant became general-in-chief, he said to Halleck: ‘I look upon the next line for me to secure to be that from Chattanooga to Mobile, Montgomery and Atlanta being the important intermediate points. . . Mobile would be a second base.’ A copy of this letter was sent to Sherman, and on the 19th of January, the scheme was also unfolded to Thomas.1

When the command at the West was transferred to Sherman, that general was instructed to carry out this programme, and Banks was directed to concentrate his entire strength against Mobile, so as to open up a base for Sherman as he emerged from his southern campaign. The Red river disaster, [41] however, prevented the co-operation of Banks, and after Canby took command at the South-West, he also was for a long time unable to act offensively. Still, the original idea was kept steadily in mind by both Grant and Sherman. On the 29th of May, Sherman telegraphed from Dallas: ‘Johnston has in my front every man he can scrape, and Mobile must now be at our mercy, if General Canby and General Banks could send to Pascagoula ten thousand men;’ and on the 30th, he proposed that A. J. Smith's division should be reinforced and sent ‘to act against Mobile, in concert with Admiral Farragut, according to the original plan.’ To this Grant replied, on the 3rd of June: ‘If there are any surplus troops West, they could be advantageously used against Mobile, as suggested in Sherman's despatch;’ and on the 5th, he added, from Cold Harbor: ‘The object of sending troops to Mobile now would be, not so much to assist Sherman against Johnston, as to secure for him a base of supplies, after his work is done.’

But it was found necessary to transfer A. J. Smith to West Tennessee and the Nineteenth corps to Virginia. Canby was therefore unable to send any force whatever to act against Mobile until late in July, and then only two thousand men under Gordon Granger, to co-operate with the fleet. Farragut, however, with splendid daring, steamed his vessels past the forts at the entrance to Mobile bay, and during the month of August all the defences of the harbor were either evacuated or surrendered. By the 23rd, the fleet had complete possession of the bay, but the city itself remained in the hands of the rebels. On the 13th of August, rumors of these [42] events reached Sherman, at that time contemplating his final circuit around Atlanta, and he telegraphed at once: ‘If there be any possibility of Admiral Farragut and the land forces under Gordon Granger taking Mobile, and further, of pushing up to Montgomery, my best plan would be to wait awhile, as now, and operate into the heart of Georgia from there.’

This was just at the time when Hood's cavalry under Wheeler had been sent to cut the railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga, and on the 13th of August, Sherman learned that Wheeler was threatening Dalton. ‘Before cutting loose, as proposed,’ he continued, ‘I would like to know the chance of my getting the use of the Alabama river. I could easily break up the railroad back to Chattanooga, and shift my army down to West Point and Columbus, a country rich in corn, and make my fall campaign from there.’ Large ideas were evidently floating in his brain, but as yet without form and void. The same day he said: ‘If ever I should be cut off from my base, look out for me about St. Mark's, Florida, or Savannah, Georgia.’ This was the first mention in the correspondence of either Grant or Sherman, of the destruction of the railroad to the rear, or of the possibility of a campaign in Georgia, like that behind Vicksburg, entirely without a base. Doubtless, the idea was presented to Sherman by the menace to his communications offered by Wheeler's cavalry, as well as by his memory of the strategy which had been so successful in Mississippi, the year before.

On the 18th, Grant replied: ‘I never would advise going backward, even if your roads are cut so [43] as to prevent receiving supplies from the North. If it comes to the worst, move South, as you suggest.’ The unity of instinct between the two soldiers was as remarkable as ever. There can be no doubt that if Grant had never directed Sherman to open a line to the sea, that general would himself have conceived the idea; and if Grant had been on the spot instead of Sherman, events would beyond all question have suggested to him most of the modifications of the plan which occurred to his subordinate. As it was, the thought had passed between them, and was for weeks developing before it took actual and definite form; affected, in the first place, by the idiosyncrasies of each, and afterwards, as the thoughts and plans of all great soldiers are, by the varying circumstances of war; and in this instance, especially liable to change, when so many campaigns were combined and involved, and so many and distant armies were cooperating.

On the 17th of August, Sherman reverted to the primitive idea: ‘We must have the Alabama river . . . but of course I must trust to Admiral Farragut and General Canby.’ To Canby he said on the same day: ‘If possible, the Alabama river should be possessed by us in connection with my movements. I could easily open communication with Montgomery.’ On the 4th of September, after Atlanta had fallen, he proposed that he and Canby should each be reinforced by fifty thousand men; that Canby should move to Montgomery, and he himself towards the same point, and, then forming a junction, they should open the line to the Gulf of Mexico. On the 10th, he said to Canby: ‘We must [44] have the Alabama river now. . . . My line is so long now that it is impossible to protect it against cavalry raids; but if we can get Montgomery, and Columbus, Georgia, as bases, in connection with Atlanta, we have Georgia and Alabama at our feet. . . . I will be ready to sally forth in October, but ought to have some assurances that, in case of necessity, I can swing into Appalachicola or Montgomery.’ This of course was to carry out the original strategy of Grant.

The general-in-chief, however, had by this time different views. The rebels west of the Mississippi, relieved of all fear of attack front Canby, had begun themselves to threaten offensive operations. Ten thousand men under Price were marching through Arkansas to invade Missouri, while Kirby Smith had set out to cross the Mississippi and co-operate with the troops opposed to Sherman. These dispositions not only made it necessary to send A. J. Smith to the support of Rosecrans, who commanded in Missouri, but compelled Canby to abandon any idea of reinforcing Granger before Mobile. On the 29th of August, Grant said to Halleck: ‘I agree with you it would be hazardous and productive of no special good to send Gordon Granger past Mobile towards Atlanta. . . . The movement Sherman is now making, result as it may, cannot be influenced by anything that can be done at Mobile, in obedience to orders from here;’ and on the 10th of September, after Atlanta had actually fallen, and while Sherman was still writing: ‘We must have the Alabama river,’ Grant telegraphed to him: ‘Now that we have all of Mobile that is valuable, I do not know but it will be the best [45] move for Major-General Canby's troops to act upon Savannah, while you move on Augusta. I would like to hear from you, however, in this matter.’

Augusta, on the Savannah river, is a hundred and fifty miles from its mouth, and a hundred and seventy-five miles east of Atlanta; Montgomery, on the Alabama, is a hundred and fifty miles southwest of Atlanta, and two hundred from Mobile. Grant's idea now was for Canby to take Savannah, at the mouth of the river of that name, and then move up to Augusta with supplies; while Sherman, moving south-east instead of south-west, would approach the Atlantic coast instead of the Gulf of Mexico: he would thus sever the only remaining line between Hood and Lee, and be better able, in case of need, to co-operate with Grant. There was still another possible route for Sherman, running almost directly south, to Columbus, Georgia, from which point communication could be opened by the Chattahoochee and Appalachicola rivers, with the Gulf of Mexico.

Sherman replied to Grant's telegram the same night, promptly conforming his own views to the new conception of his chief: ‘Our roads are broken back near Nashville, and Wheeler is not yet disposed of. . . . I do not think we can afford to operate further, dependent on the railroad; it takes so many men to guard it, and then it is nightly broken by the enemy's cavalry that swarms around us. . . . If I could be sure of finding provisions and ammunition at Augusta, or Columbus, Georgia, I can march to Milledgeville, and compel Hood to give up Augusta or Macon, and then turn on the other. The country will afford forage and many supplies, but [46] not enough, in any one place, to admit of a delay. . . . If you can manage to take the Savannah river as high up as Augusta, or the Chattahoochee as far up as Columbus, I can sweep the whole state of Georgia; otherwise, I should risk our whole army by going too far from Atlanta.’ Both generals were thus in favor of Sherman's cutting loose from Atlanta, but neither as yet dreamed of his setting out except to find another base already opened; and while Grant was considering especially the goal of the journey, Sherman's mind reverted rather to the start; for if the march occurred, Grant must provide supplies when it was over, while Sherman would be endangered, if his communications were cut before it began.

Sherman was now dependent for all his supplies for a hundred thousand men upon a single line of railroad, running from Nashville to Atlanta, a distance of two hundred and ninety miles, all the way through an enemy's country, where every foot must be protected by troops, whose numbers of course were deducted from his offensive force. Wheeler's cavalry raid had accomplished no remarkable results, but nevertheless made it plain that Sherman's communications with the North were constantly liable to interruption; and rumors were now afloat that Forrest was on his way to the same theatre, with the avowed purpose of compelling the national army to fall back from its conquest. On the 12th of September, Sherman said to Halleck: ‘There is a large abundance of forage in Alabama and Georgia, and independent columns might operate by a circuit from one army to another, and destroy the enemy's cavalry. . . . Our [rail] road is repaired and bringing [47] forward supplies, but I doubt its capacity to do much more than feed our trains and artillery horses.’ Then, with his usual subordination, he remarked: ‘As soon as General Grant determines for me the next move on the chess-board, I will estimate the number I will want.’

Meanwhile, the general-in-chief was carefully considering this next move, and on the 12th of September, he sent Colonel Horace Porter, of his staff, to make known his views to Sherman and bring back a reply. He was accustomed to inform the officers of his personal staff very thoroughly of his plans, and often sent them to represent him at the headquarters of his more important generals, with whom he thus communicated more fully and exactly than was possible by other means. Colonel Porter was the bearer of a letter in which, after explaining the situation in Virginia, and announcing a proposed operation against Wilmington, Grant proceeded to develop the suggestion he had already made by telegraph, of a movement towards the Atlantic. ‘What you are to do with the forces at your command I do not exactly see. The difficulties of supplying your army, except when you are constantly moving beyond where you are, I plainly see. If it had not been for Price's movement, Canby could have sent twelve thousand men to Mobile. From your command on the Mississippi an equal number could have been taken. With this force, my idea would have been to divide them, sending one half to Mobile and the other to Savannah. You could then move as proposed in your telegram, so as to threaten Macon and Augusta equally. Whichever was abandoned by the enemy you could take, [48] and open up a new base of supplies. My object now in sending a staff-officer to you is not so much to suggest operations for you, as to get your views, and to have plans matured by the time everything can be got ready.’

To invite the views of Sherman on the campaigns and plans of the future was to set fire to an imagination crowded with thick-coming fancies, and to open the flood-gates of an eloquence which never lacked language to embody all that his genius conceived. His reply covered the whole ground: touched upon the strategy of Grant in front of Richmond; discussed the capture of Wilmington and the topography of its waters; considered the value of Mobile and the possibility of Southern independence; proposed reinforcements for Meade and campaigns for Canby; glanced at the side movemints of Price and Rosecrans; treated of Hood's army and the Appalachicola river; but nevertheless narrowed itself down to a definite answer to Grant's inquiry and a positive plan for his own army, which did not differ materially from that suggested by the general-in-chief.

In regard to Mobile, he partly adopted the new view of Grant. ‘Now that Mobile is shut out to the commerce of our enemy, it calls for no further effort on our part, unless the capture of the city can be followed by the occupation of the Alabama river and the railroad to Columbus, when that place would be a magnificent auxiliary to my further progress into Georgia.’ But Savannah, he said, ‘once in our possession, and the river open to us, I would not hesitate to cross the state of Georgia with sixty thousand men, hauling some stores and depending [49] on the country for the balance. Where a million of people find subsistence, my army won't starve. . . . I will therefore give it as my opinion that your army and Canby's should be reinforced to the maximum; that after you get Wilmington, you should strike for Savannah and its river; that General Canby should hold the Mississippi river, and send a force to take Columbus, Georgia, either by the way of the Alabama or Appalachicola river; that I should keep Hood employed and put my army in fine order for a march on Augusta, Columbia, and Charleston, and start as soon as Wilmington is sealed to commerce, and the city of Savannah is in our possession.’ Again, in the same letter, he said: ‘If you will secure Wilmington and the city of Savannah from your centre, and let General Canby have command over the Mississippi river and country west of it, I will send a force to the Alabama and Appalachicola . . . and if you will fix a day to be in Savannah, I will insure our possession of Macon and a point on the river below Augusta.’ This was not different from what Grant had first suggested in his telegram of the 10th of September.

But at this moment the whole situation changed as suddenly as the scenery in a theatre. Sherman's letter was dated September 20th, and on the 21st, Hood moved his army from Lovejoy's, where he had remained since the capture of Atlanta, to Palmetto station, on the West Point railroad, twenty-four miles south-west of the national position. From this place, on the 22nd, he announced to Bragg: ‘I shall, unless Sherman moves south, so soon as I can collect supplies, cross the Chattahoochee [50] river, and form line of battle near Powder Springs. This will prevent him from using the Dalton railroad, and force him to drive me off, or move south, when I shall fall upon his rear.’ It is strange to note how the very movement which Grant and Sherman were discussing, had been considered nearly as soon by the rebel general. He even appeared to desire the national advance, and purposely left the way open for Sherman into Central Georgia. Anticipating the probabilities of the campaign, Hood continued: ‘Would it not be well to move a part of the important machinery at Macon to the east of the Oconee, and do the same at Augusta to the east side of the Savannah?’ As Grant declared in his official report, the rebels ‘exhibited the weakness of supposing that an army which had been beaten and decimated in a vain attempt at the defensive could successfully undertake the offensive against the force that had so often defeated it.’

Sherman promptly reported the new manoeuvre of the enemy: ‘Hood is falling back from Lovejoy's, but I will not follow him now. I will watch him, as I do not see what he designs by this movement.’ He had not long to wait. The rebel President had come from Richmond to the camp of Hood, and all along the road, with extraordinary fatuity, proclaimed the new campaign. At Columbia, in South Carolina, at Macon, and at Palmetto station, he publicly announced that Atlanta was to be recovered; that Forrest was already on the national roads in Middle Tennessee; that Sherman would meet the fate of Napoleon in the retreat from Moscow; and, finally, addressing the army, he [51] turned to a division of Tennessee troops, and exclaimed: ‘Be of good cheer, for in a short while your faces will be turned homeward, and your feet pressing Tennessee soil.’ This imprudent disclosure of the rebel plans was published in the Southern newspapers, and Sherman was of course forewarned. The speech at Macon was made on the 23rd of September, and on the 27th, Sherman telegraphed it to Washington.

Even on the 24th, however, Sherman had said: ‘I have no doubt Hood has resolved to throw himself on our flanks to prevent our accumulating stores, etc. here, trusting to our not advancing into Georgia.’ He accordingly ordered a division at once to Rome, to protect the railroad. On the 25th, he said: ‘Hood seems to be moving as it were to the Alabama line, leaving open to me the road to Macon, as also to Augusta. If I was sure that Savannah would be in our possession, I would be tempted to make for Milledgeville and Augusta, but I must secure what I have.’ Forrest, however, was now rapidly advancing towards the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga, two hundred miles in Sherman's rear, and Grant, with his usual pugnacity, preferred to fight the enemy before the march should be made. He replied to Sherman's telegram: ‘It will be better to drive Forrest from Middle Tennessee as a first step, and then do anything else that you may feel your force sufficient for. When a movement is made on any part of the seacoast, I will advise you.’ The same day Sherman asked for reinforcements, saying: ‘In Middle Tennessee we are weak. . . . I have already sent one division to Chattanooga and another to Rome. . . . [52] If I send back much more, I will not be able to threaten Georgia much.’

In fact, every preparation was now rapidly making to resist the double attack which it was evident was about to be attempted on Sherman's extended communications. He himself called reinforcements from Kentucky, and concentrated at Nashville every man he could spare from the rear, while Grant directed all recruits and new troops to be sent to the same place, to receive their orders from Sherman. ‘It is evident,’ he said, ‘from the tone of the Richmond press, and all other sources, that the enemy intend making a desperate effort to drive you from where you are.’ ‘I shall give them another shake here before the end of the week.’ To Halleck, on the 28th of September, he telegraphed: ‘Everything indicates that the enemy are going to make a last and spasmodic effort to regain what they have lost, and especially against Sherman. Troops should be got to Sherman as rapidly as the lines of communication will carry them. If there are no troops in the Western states, then send them there from further East.’ On the same day, Sherman announced: ‘Forrest has got into Middle Tennessee, and will, I feel certain, get on my main road to-night or to-morrow; but I will guard well from this back to Chattanooga, and trust to troops coming up from Kentucky to hold Nashville and forward to Chattanooga.’ On the 28th, he sent Thomas in person back to Chattanooga, to supervise operations in Middle Tennessee.

It would indeed have been a sad ending to Sherman's brilliant campaign, to have lost his army in the heart of Georgia, for want of supplies, or to have been [53] forced to make his way back to the Tennessee, discomfited and repelled. Armies larger than his and as successful at the start, had met such a fate before, in history; some in this very war; and on such a result the rebel President and his new general evidently counted; such they promised their soldiers and people should be the end of the new campaign.

But although obliged for a while to retrace his steps and defend what he had won, Sherman was still looking to his onward march. The crisis so imminent in his rear only made him more eager to advance. On the 28th of September, he said: ‘I want Appalachicola arsenal taken, also Savannah, and if the enemy does succeed in breaking up my roads, I can fight my way across to one or the other place; but I think better to hold on to Atlanta and strengthen to my rear, and am therefore glad you have ordered troops to Nashville.’ The emergency itself inspired him with bolder and still bolder conceptions; his genius flashed like lightning through the darkness, and amid dangers that would have daunted many a brave soldier, he began to see his way across the Confederacy. At the same time, these tremendous demands upon Grant, these imperative calls that the chief should at once protect Nashville, three hundred miles in the rear, and take Appalachicola and Savannah, a thousand miles away, in front, show the absolute faith of Sherman that Grant both could and would supervise all. He had said himself six months before: ‘I tell you, this made us act with confidence. I knew . . . if I got in a tight place, you would help me out, if alive.’

On the 29th of September, Hood crossed the Chattahoochee, and on this day Grant made, as he [54] had promised, another movement in front of Richmond, partly in order to distract the rebels from too exclusive attention to Sherman, and partly to favor the operations of Sheridan in the Valley.

On the 1st of October, Sherman reported the advance of Hood, and added: ‘If he tries to get on my road this side of the Etowa, I shall attack him; but if he goes on to Selma and Talladega [due west], why would it not do for me to leave Tennessee to the forces which Thomas has, and the reserves soon to come to Nashville, and for me to destroy Atlanta, and then march across Georgia to Savannah or Charleston, breaking roads and doing irreparable damage?’ This at last was the full-born thought. This was the idea which was afterwards embodied in the memorable march. This was to give up not only Atlanta, but the line in the rear to Chattanooga; to set out into an enemy's country, ignorant whether Hood would follow or not, and to push into the interior without supplies, until the sea should be reached. It was not to Augusta, but to Savannah, that Sherman now proposed to move, and it might be necessary at the end of the march, to fight before an exit could be made and supplies obtained.

But the rebels at once attacked the national railroad south of the Etowa, and Sherman was obliged to follow with his army. His whole attention for a while was concentrated upon the rear, and the new suggestion remained for a week or more unanswered. During this time, however, Grant was considering Sherman's future and arranging to facilitate his operations, though without his knowledge. Sherman's telegram was dated October 1st, and on the 4th, the general-in-chief wrote to Halleck: ‘When this campaign [55] was commenced nothing else was in contemplation but that Sherman, after capturing Atlanta, should connect with Canby at Mobile. Drawing the Nineteenth corps from Canby, however, and the movements of Kirby Smith demanding the presence of all of Canby's surplus forces in another direction, has made it impossible to carry out the plan as early as was contemplated. Any considerable force to co-operate with Sherman on the sea-coast must not be sent from here. The question is whether, under such circumstances, Augusta and Savannah would not be a better line than Selma, Montgomery, and Mobile. I think Savannah might be taken by surprise with one corps from here, and such other troops as Foster could spare from the Department of the South. This is my view, but before giving positive orders, I want to make a visit to Washington and consult on the subject. All Canby can do with his present force is to make demonstrations on Mobile, or up the Appalachicola towards Columbus.’

Then came the reasons that recommended the movement: ‘Either line would cut off the supplies from the rich districts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi equally well. Whichever way Sherman moves, he will undoubtedly encounter Hood's army, and in crossing to the sea-coast, will sever the connection between Lee's army and his district of country.’ Indeed, if Grant had not supposed that Hood would still be Sherman's objective point, he certainly would neither have suggested nor commended the movement. But he went on to say: ‘I wrote to Sherman on this subject, sending my letter by a staff officer. He is ready to attempt (and feels [56] confident of his ability to succeed) to make his way either to the Savannah river, or any of the navigable streams emptying into the Atlantic or Gulf, if he is only certain of finding a base for him when he arrives.’ On the 6th of October, the general-in-chief went to Washington, to ascertain definitely upon what reinforcements he could rely, and to shape his plans accordingly.

Meanwhile, as we have seen, when Hood had once crossed the Chattahoochee, Sherman was obliged, however reluctantly, to follow; but still, as corps after corps was sent north in pursuit, his despatches were full of suggestions of counter-moves; he was looking back constantly to the fields that he preferred. ‘Keep your folks ready,’ he said to Schofield, ‘to send baggage into Atlanta, and to start on short notice.’ ‘If we make a countermove, I will go out myself with a large force, and take such a route as will supply us, and at the same time make Hood recall the whole or part of his army.’ Thomas had now arrived in Chattanooga, and on the 30th of September, Sherman said to him: ‘There is no doubt some of Hood's infantry is across the Chattahoochee, but I don't think his whole army is across. If he moves his whole force to Blue Mountain, you watch him from the direction of Stevenson, and I will do the same from Rome, and as soon as all things are ready, I will take advantage of his opening to me all of Georgia.’

Blue Mountain was at this time the terminus of the Selma and Talladega railroad, about sixty miles south-west of Rome; and as Hood had now abandoned the Macon and West Point roads, this was the nearest point at which he could connect [57] with the few remaining railroads in the South-West. He must either move towards Blue Mountain, or to the Tennessee river, or attack Sherman's communications. He chose the last named course, and at the same time Forrest captured Athens and moved up into the interior of Tennessee, threatening the line between Thomas and Nashville. On the 3rd of October, Hood reached Lost Mountain, which made it certain that he would attempt to strike the railroad in the neighborhood of Marietta, in Sherman's rear. Sherman at once ordered the Twentieth corps to hold Atlanta, and moved himself with the remainder of his army, upon Marietta.

He crossed the Chattahoochee on the 3rd and 4th of October, and learned that heavy masses of artillery, infantry, and cavalry had been seen from Kenesaw mountain, marching north. Allatoona, where more than a million of rations were stored, was evidently their objective point. It was held by only a small brigade. Sherman signalled from mountain-top to mountain-top, over the heads of the enemy, a message for Corse, who was at Rome with a division of infantry, to hasten to the succor of Allatoona, and himself reached Kenesaw early on the morning of the 5th. But the rebels had already struck the railroad, and the whole line at his feet for fifteen miles was marked by the fires of the burning road. He could discern the smoke of the battle of Allatoona, and hear the faint reverberation of the cannon, eighteen miles away.

He at once ordered the Twenty-third corps to march due west, burning houses or piles of brush as it advanced, to mark the head of the column. [58] His hope was to interpose this corps between Hood and the detachment of five thousand rebels now attacking Allatoona. The remainder of the national army was directed straight upon Allatoona itself. The signal officer on Kenesaw mountain reported that since daylight he had failed to obtain any answer to his messages to Allatoona; but while Sherman was with him, he caught a glimpse of the tell-tale flag through an embrasure, and made out the letters C. R. S. E. H. E. R., and translated the message: ‘Corse is here.’ This was the first assurance Sherman had that Corse had received his orders, and that the place was adequately garrisoned.

He watched with painful suspense the indications of the battle, impatient enough at what seemed the slow approach of the relieving column, whose advance was marked by burning houses, according to orders; but about two o'clock the smoke about Allatoona grew less and less, and at four ceased altogether; and later the signal flag announced that the attack had been repulsed, but Corse was wounded. The next day Sherman's aide-de-camp received a despatch, not intended for history, but worthy to be preserved: ‘I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but able to whip all hell yet.’

The fight had been severe, but French, in command of the rebel detachment, was definitely repelled before the arrival of the Twenty-third corps. He doubtless knew of its approach, for he was in full retreat on the Dallas road before the head of the national column appeared. The rebels, however, had struck the railroad a heavy [59] blow; the estimate for repairs called for thirty-five thousand new ties, and six miles of iron. But ten thousand men were distributed to repair the road, and in about seven days all was right again.2

Nevertheless, all this had delayed Sherman, and engrossed his attention. Between the 1st and the 9th of October he sent no despatch to the general-in-chief or to Washington, but on the last named day he renewed his recommendations to Grant. ‘It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood's movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma and Talladega railroad, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Chattanooga, and strike out with wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads we will lose one thousand men monthly, and will gain no result. I can make the march and make Georgia howl. . . .’

On the 10th, he learned that Hood had crossed the Coosa river, between Rome and the railroad. [60] He was compelled again to follow, but on the way he telegraphed to Grant: ‘Hood is now crossing the Coosa, twelve miles below Rome—bound west. If he passes over to the Mobile and Ohio road, had I not better execute the plan of my letter sent by Colonel Porter, and leave General Thomas with the troops now in Tennessee, to defend the state? He will have an ample force when the reinforcements ordered reach Nashville.’

Grant, however, with his usual desire to make armies his objective points, at first was unwilling for Sherman to turn his back on the enemy. A movement to the sea, it is true, had all along entered into his plans, and we have seen that as soon as Sherman took possession of Atlanta, the general-in-chief proposed that he should march towards the Savannah; but Grant then supposed that Hood would be in front, and that Sherman would be obliged to fight him. Hood, however, had now entirely changed the situation. By attacking Sherman's communications he had compelled that commander to retrace his steps nearly to Chattanooga; and if Sherman turned off now to the southeast, he would leave Tennessee open to Hood, with nothing to withstand him but the forces that could be got together under Thomas. Grant always preferred to fight his enemy; Sherman, perhaps, liked better to win by manoeuvring. Grant, as we have constantly seen, believed that only the destruction of the rebel armies could end the war, and the proposition of Sherman to plunge into the interior, leaving Hood's army still undestroyed, at first did not strike him favorably.

He replied on the 11th, at eleven A. M.: ‘Your [61] despatch of October 10th received. Does it not look as if Hood was going to attempt the invasion of Middle Tennessee, using the Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston roads to supply his base on the Tennessee river about Florence or Decatur? If he does this, he ought to be met, and prevented from getting north of the Tennessee river. If you were to cut loose, I do not believe you would meet Hood's army, but would be bushwhacked by all the old men, little boys, and such railroad guards as are still left at home. Hood would probably strike for Nashville, thinking that by going north, he could inflict greater damage upon us than we could upon the rebels by going south. If there is any way of getting at Hood's army, I should prefer that; but I must trust to your judgment. I find I shall not be able to send a force from here to act with you on Savannah. Your movements therefore will be independent of mine; at least until the fall of Richmond takes place. I am afraid Thomas, with such lines of road as he has to protect, could not prevent Hood from going north. With Wilson turned loose with all your cavalry, you will find the rebels put much more on the defensive than heretofore.’3

Sherman, with his usual ardor, had not waited for Grant's reply, but on the 11th, he sent the following despatch, dated the same hour with Grant's—eleven A. M. ‘Hood moved his army from Palmetto station, across by Dallas and Cedartown, and is now on the Coosa river, south of Rome. He threw one corps on my road at Ackworth, and I was [62] forced to follow. I hold Atlanta with the Twentieth corps, and have strong detachments along my line. This reduces my active force to a comparatively small army. We cannot remain here on the defensive. With the twenty-five thousand men and the bold cavalry he has, he can constantly break my roads. I would infinitely prefer to make a wreck of the road and of the country from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city, send back all my wounded and worthless, and with my effective army, move through Georgia, smashing things, to the sea. Hood may turn into Tennessee and Kentucky, but I believe he will be forced to follow me. Instead of my being on the defensive, I would be on the offensive; instead of guessing at what he means to do, he would have to guess at my plans. The difference in war is full twenty-five per cent. I can make Savannah, Charleston, or the mouth of the Chattahoochee. Answer quick, as I know we shall not have the telegraph long.’

Grant answered the same night at 11.30 P. M.: ‘Your despatch of to-day received. If you are satisfied the trip to the sea-coast can be made, holding the line of the Tennessee firmly, you may make it, destroying all the railroad south of Dalton or Chattanooga, as you think best.’

The only question on which they had for a few hours differed was whether it was not better to fight Hood before the march was made. Sherman declared that Hood would follow him; Grant was certain that the rebel army would go north. Sherman first suggested the destruction of the railroad, but to this Grant never objected, although it left the national army at the start a hundred and [63] fifty miles from any communications. But the more important point was whether Hood should be first destroyed. This Grant would undoubtedly have preferred. It was his nature to attack directly, and not evade, far less move away from, an enemy. But he had almost unbounded faith in Sherman's genius, and as has been often seen, he always took into consideration the temper of his subordinates. He believed also that confidence was one of the first requisites of success, and when he found his great lieutenant so impetuous in his eagerness, he gave the word. Yet he himself would probably never have made the march, leaving Hood in the rear. In the Vicksburg campaign, it is true, he moved away from Pemberton, but it was to attack Johnston; and when he set out from the Mississippi, he fully intended to turn and crush Pemberton, as soon as Johnston was destroyed. Had he been in Sherman's place now, he would have been quite as determined to make the march, but not until Hood was annihilated.

He felt, however, that he was able to supervise all; to provide troops for Thomas sufficient to withstand Hood, and supplies to meet Sherman when he emerged; and his confidence in Sherman's generalship determined him to permit the move. ‘Such an army,’ he said to Stanton on the 13th, ‘and with such a commander, is hard to corner or to capture.’ This confidence was reciprocal. If Sherman could not have reposed absolutely on Grant, if he had not felt certain that the chief would provide supplies to meet him, wherever, on the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico, he should [64] strike the coast; if he had not been equally sure that Grant would protect the forces and the country that were left behind—he would no more have attempted the march than Grant would have allowed it, without his own belief in Sherman's ability to make it successful. It needed the two to conceive and perform their double parts in this act of the drama; neither was complete without the other.

It must, however, be remembered that Grant's responsibility continued far beyond Sherman's. Neither the general-in-chief nor the government, nor, it must be said, Sherman himself, nor his own subordinates, by this time felt overweening anxiety about any of Sherman's great movements. He had shown too unmistakably that he possessed the qualities of a great commander. In this especial instance, Grant had no fear of absolute disaster to Sherman, and doubted not that he would find or fight his way to the sea-coast. It was not on account of Sherman, who was to set out with sixty thousand men, and no organized army to oppose him, that the anxiety was entertained. It was because Hood was left behind to contend with Thomas; and if Thomas was defeated, the states of Tennessee and Kentucky were opened to the enemy, and possibly the country beyond the Ohio. Here was the responsibility; here was the danger. Sherman would start on his novel, and romantic, and dashing campaign; with dangers in front and, possibly, behind; into an unknown region, where for a month he would be lost to the outer world. Hood might follow him, but Sherman had already defeated and depleted Hood; and both Grant and Sherman knew that no other important [65] force could be collected in the entire South to oppose Sherman, so long as Lee was held at Richmond. But Thomas's troops were scattered from the Missouri to the Alleghanies. Sherman could no longer direct him; would no longer be responsible for him; and up to this time Thomas had never commanded an independent army; while great defeat on the Tennessee would balance all that the national forces had achieved in every other theatre of war. It was this that made Grant pause; it was this that alarmed the government, which opposed the movement from the beginning. It was this that made Thomas himself declare that he did not wish to be left behind to command the forces in defence of Tennessee.4 It was this that made the great and supreme responsibility which the general-in-chief alone could and did assume.

Sherman's proposed attempt was like, and also unlike, Grant's Vicksburg campaign. It was like, because it was abandoning one base, and seeking another; plunging into an enemy's country, and relying on a hostile region for resources. It was unlike, because Sherman did not expect an enemy in his front, while Grant penetrated between two hostile forces; and because Sherman was uncertain where he should strike, while Grant intended from the beginning to reach the Walnut Hills. It was undoubtedly suggested by Grant's success behind Vicksburg; for Sherman had this one indisputable quality of greatness,—he could be convinced: and [66] although, originally, he had not favored the Vicksburg campaign, yet when the result had demonstrated its practicability, he was willing to push its principles to the utmost. He contemplated now marching much further than Grant, when he left Grand Gulf; he proposed in some respects a grander movement. He did it, however, with the full concurrence of his chief; and aware that every preparation would await him on the coast; while Grant's campaign was countermanded, although too late, by Halleck, and he had to provide his own supplies. Grant moved with thirty-five thousand men, Sherman, with sixty thousand: Grant's force was therefore easier to subsist, but less formidable in case it met an enemy. The campaigns were, in fact, two great and heretofore unparalleled movements in war, with points of striking likeness and dissimilarity.

As to the original idea of the march, the germ was undoubtedly Grant's; but Sherman's march was a far different one from that which Grant had contemplated. The general-in-chief, as has been shown, meant at the start to open a line from Chattanooga to Mobile; but he did not at the start propose to abandon the railroads, and he never meant, or would have proposed, to leave an enemy in his rear. Sherman did conceive his peculiar march, destroying Atlanta as Cortez burnt his ships, and abandoning the railroad as Grant did the Mississippi at Vicksburg; but Grant had conceived another march much earlier. Grant first proposed that Sherman should move to Savannah whenever Canby was ready to meet him; but—and this is the greatest and most audacious part of Sherman's [67] conception, and this is all his own—he was willing to move to the sea, after he knew that Grant could send no forces to meet him. He destroyed his communications for a hundred and fifty miles to the rear, and he had none for three hundred miles in front, and this distance he had to march, uncertain whether at the close he should find friend or foe. All this was Sherman's own suggestion. There can be no depreciating the daring or the originality of the idea.

Whether an enemy followed him or not, whether he should meet one on the way, or at the end—of all this he was in ignorance. If Grant was able to care for the region that was left behind, so much the better; but if disaster came in the rear, what then? while if by any chance, evil happened at the East, Lee might detach, or Davis assemble, an army between him and the sea. Grant had indeed contemplated opening a line to the coast; and if he had arrived at Atlanta, and found it impossible to hold his communications with Chattanooga, he would undoubtedly have desired to cut loose from both those points; but it still remains that it was Sherman who proposed this severance to Grant. The march to the sea—in ignorance of what the rebels might do in his rear, or what enemy might be found in his front, and without knowing where he should be able to strike the coast—all this was indisputably, and absolutely, and exclusively, the idea of Sherman.

While these great strategic schemes at the West were maturing, Grant had been planning another operation north of the James, in support of the movements of Sherman and Sheridan, and announced his intentions to both commanders in [68] advance. On the 26th of September, he said to Sherman ‘I will give them another shake here before the end of the week;’ and the next day he sent word to Sheridan: ‘No troops have passed through Richmond to reinforce Early. . . I shall make a break here on the 29th.’ Like all his undertakings, however, this one was designed to be more than co-operative. Grant's idea of a demonstration always was that it might be converted into an absolute success; and he made his preparations and issued his orders so that the movement he now contemplated should be susceptible of being carried, if necessary, to the inside of Richmond.

The operation resembled in many respects his previous manoeuvres on the James. Butler was directed to hold Bermuda Hundred with artillery and some new regiments which had just arrived, so that the entire Tenth and Eighteenth corps might be available. The troops were to cross the river by night and be ready on the morning of the 29th, to start from Deep Bottom and the Aiken House, and assault the enemy's lines. ‘The object of the movement,’ said Grant, ‘is to surprise and capture Richmond, if possible. This cannot be done if time is given to the enemy to move forces to the north side of the river. . . Should the outer line be broken, the troops will push for Richmond with all promptness. . . It is known that the enemy has entrenched positions back of the river, between Deep Bottom and Richmond, such as Chapin's Farm, which are garrisoned. If these can be captured in passing, they should be held.’ Then, with his usual determination, he added: ‘Should you succeed in getting to Richmond, [69] the interposition of the whole [rebel] army between you and your supports need cause you no alarm.’5

But although thus inciting Butler, and anxious to take advantage of any success which that commander might attain, the general-in-chief at this time hardly hoped for the capture of Richmond, and carefully prepared for the alternative. The pith of Butler's instructions was in the words ‘If the enemy resists you by sufficient force to prevent your advance, it is confidently expected that General Meade can gain a decisive advantage at his end of the line. The prize sought is either Richmond, or Petersburg, or a position which will secure the fall of the latter.’ With Meade Grant was still more explicit: ‘Although the troops will be instructed to push directly for Richmond, if successful in breaking through the outer line of rebel works, it is hardly expected that so much can be accomplished. . . . Have the army of the Potomac under arms at four o'clock, A. M., on the 29th, ready to move in any direction. . . Should the enemy draw off such a force as to justify in moving either for the Southside road or Petersburg, I want you to do it without instructions, and in your own way. One thing, however, I would say: if the [rail] road is reached, or a position commanding it, it should be held at all hazards.’ [70] Meade was also directed to make a movement of troops towards the left, the day before Butler advanced, so as to give the appearance of massing in that direction. ‘The Tenth corps, moving to Bermuda Hundred to-night, will be missed from its position in the morning; and if the enemy can be deceived into thinking they have gone around to the left, it will aid us.’

At this juncture, Grant's cares and responsibilities were crowding upon him from every quarter. as closely as at any period during the war. While arranging the details of Butler's movement, withdrawing troops from the forts on the James, and directing pontoons to be towed out of sight of the enemy—he was obliged to discuss the condition of Canby on the Mississippi river, and the needs of commanders in East Tennessee; to order reinforcements to Sherman, and to consult the Secretary of War about affairs in Missouri and the North-West; at the same time he forwarded the latest news from Sheridan, and wrote an elaborate letter to the government on the subject of the elections in the camps.6

Before dawn on the 29th of September, Butler moved from Deep Bottom; the Eighteenth corps, under Ord, marched by the Varina road, nearest the river; and the Tenth, under Birney, by the Newmarket road; while Kautz, with the cavalry, took the Darbytown road, on the right of the army. All these routes run direct to Richmond, only ten miles north of Deep Bottom. The attack by Ord on the left had been ordered for half-past 3; it was [71] not made until several hours later, but was then completely successful. Fort Harrison, the strongest rebel work north of the James, was carried, with fifteen guns, and a long line of entrenchments below Chapin's Farm. Several hundred prisoners also fell into Butler's hands. Ord, however, who commanded the assaulting column, was wounded in the leg and obliged to leave the field, and this circumstance prevented any further advantage being taken of the success at the moment, when time was all-important. Birney also had advanced on the right, and carried the entrenchments on the Newmarket road, scattering the enemy in every direction; but he too halted when he should have pushed on with vigor.

Grant was at Deep Bottom in person at an early hour, and though anxious to remain at a point where he could communicate promptly with Meade, he rode out at this crisis to Butler's front, visiting first Birney's lines, and then the fort captured by the Eighteenth corps. This was a large enclosed work, projecting from the rebel line, but still commanded by other important batteries. Dismounting, in order to cross the ditch, Grant walked into the redoubt. The ground was covered with blood and shells, and here and there a dying rebel looked up vacantly at his captors; while from a work not many hundred yards away the enemy was throwing shells directly inside the parapet. Grant stepped upon the banquette and got a nearer view of the defences of Richmond than he had at any time before been able to obtain. The whole line could be seen through the smoke, in reverse, for miles; and on the left, the spires of the rebel [72] capital. He determined at once to push forward both wings of Butler's army, and seated himself on the ground, with his back to the parapet, to write the order. While he wrote, a shell burst immediately over his head, and instinctively every one around him stooped, to avoid the fragments. Grant did not look up, his hand was unshaken, and he went on writing his order as calmly as if he had been in camp.

The despatch was to Birney, and in these words: ‘General Ord has carried very strong works and some fifteen pieces of artillery, and his corps is now ready to advance in conjunction with you. . . . Push forward on the road I left you on.’ Having thus directed the immediate advance of Butler's entire command, the general-in-chief returned to Deep Bottom at noon, to communicate with Meade, from whom he had not heard since early morning. He announced the capture of Fort Harrison to Meade, and informed him that rebel reinforcements were arriving from Petersburg. ‘If this continues,’ he said, ‘it may be well for you to attack the enemy.’ Meanwhile, Kautz, with the cavalry, had advanced on the Darbytown road to a point within six miles of Richmond, and a division of Butler's infantry was ordered to his support.

But word soon came in that a gallant assault by Birney had been repulsed with heavy loss, and the whole advance was checked. The impetus of the first success was already lost, and everything in this movement depended upon celerity and surprise. The Eighteenth corps, on the left, however, had reached a point north of one of the rebel bridges on the James, so that Lee was now able to send troops [73] from Petersburg to Butler's rear. Instructions had been given early in the day to destroy this bridge with artillery, but the national gunners were unable to reach it, and at mid-day Grant directed Butler: ‘If your troops do not reach Richmond this afternoon, my opinion is that it will be unsafe to spend the night north of the enemy's lower bridge. I think it advisable to select a line now to which the troops can be brought back to-night, if they do not reach Richmond.’ This was accordingly done, and a position taken up, extending from the river at Cox's ferry, to the Darbytown road, where Kautz had pushed on to the line of redoubts nearest Richmond.

Thus the success of the day was limited to the capture of Fort Harrison in the morning, and a later advance on the right, by which no especial result was attained. The advantage gained by Ord had not been properly pushed at the instant; the enemy was warned and prepared for the second assault; and although the captured work was important, a rebel line of great strength still intervened between the national forces and Richmond.

Grant, however, as has been seen, had hardly hoped for better fortune north of the James, and meanwhile was waiting for developments at the other end of his line. At 3.50 P. M., he said to Butler: ‘I send you a despatch just received from General Meade. It would seem probable the enemy have sent but one division from Petersburg. It would be well under such circumstances to hold all the ground we can to-night, and feel out to the right in the morning.’

During the day, the President sent an anxious [74] despatch about Sheridan, who had reached the head of the Valley and could no longer communicate with Washington. To this Grant replied: ‘I am taking steps to prevent Lee sending reinforcements to Early, by attacking him here.’ At four o'clock, he telegraphed again: ‘I did not expect to carry Richmond, but was in hopes of causing the enemy so to weaken the garrison of Petersburg as to be able to carry that place. The great object, however, is to prevent the enemy sending reinforcements to Early:’ and still later: ‘Operations to-day prevented getting Richmond papers,7 and consequently hearing of Sheridan. . . I am satisfied no troops have gone from here against him, and they cannot in the next two days. By that time he will be through, and on his way to a position where he can defend and supply himself.’

In the meantime the rebels were evidently moving large bodies of troops from Petersburg to the Richmond front; and half an hour before midnight Grant said to Meade: ‘. . You need not move out at daylight, but be prepared to start, say at eight o'clock, if you find the enemy still further reduced, or if ordered. . . When you do move out, I think it will be advisable to manoeuvre to get a good position from which to attack, and then, if the enemy is routed, follow him into Petersburg, or where circumstances seem to direct. I do not think it advisable to try to extend our line to the Southside road, unless a very considerable part of the [75] enemy is drawn across the James, and then only when we are able to withdraw Butler's force rapidly and send it to you.’ Butler also was informed: ‘If the enemy have detached largely, Meade may be able to carry Petersburg. If so, I can send him two corps, using railroads and steamers for the infantry. On account of this attack I want to remain here through the day. I will go to Deep Bottom, however, to meet you, leaving here at five A. M.’

Before daylight, accordingly, Grant went up the river to Deep Bottom, and finding everything quiet in that quarter, at eight o'clock he returned to City Point, and sent orders to Meade to move out and see if an advantage could be gained. ‘General Butler's forces will remain where they are for the present, ready to advance, if found practicable. . . It seems to me the enemy must be weak enough at one or the other place to let us in.’ Meade, accordingly, with four divisions of infantry under Warren and Parke, advanced towards Poplar Spring church and Peeble's farm, about two miles west of the Weldon road, while Gregg's division of cavalry moved still further to the left and rear. Hancock was left in command of the trenches in front of Petersburg.

Warren, who held Meade's right in this movement, soon came upon the enemy entrenched at Peeble's farm; he made a vigorous attack, and carried two redoubts with a line of rifle-pits, capturing one gun and a hundred prisoners. Grant promptly announced the success to Butler, and cautioned him: ‘Be well on your guard, to act defensively. If the enemy are forced from Petersburg, they may push to oppose you.’ To Meade [76] he said: ‘If the enemy can be broken and started, follow him up closely. I can't help believing that the enemy are prepared to leave Petersburg, if forced a little.’ Later in the afternoon, Parke, moving on Warren's left, towards the Boydtown road, was fiercely attacked, and forced back with heavy loss; but Warren sent a division promptly to his support, and the Ninth corps rallied. For a time the fighting was severe, but the rebels were finally repulsed, losing heavily in their turn. The position carried in the morning was held, and Warren entrenched himself, and extended his right to the Weldon road.8

Butler also was assaulted, at Fort Harrison, three times during the afternoon. The loss of this work troubled the rebels greatly, for it commanded the shortest road to Richmond. Four divisions were hurried to the spot, Lee was present in person, and the troops were told the fort must be re-taken at every hazard. Their efforts were desperate, but each assault was repulsed, and Butler retained possession of his prize. The rebel loss was estimated at nearly one thousand killed and wounded,9 and Butler reported the capture of more than two hundred prisoners. His own losses were insignificant. Thus, at each end of his line Lee made energetic efforts to regain what he had lost, and at each he was foiled.

Nevertheless, the rebels had made a good fight, and it was difficult to know at what point they were [77] most vulnerable. At 9.40 P. M. on the 30th, Meade was instructed: ‘You need not advance to-morrow, unless in your judgment an advantage can be gained, but hold on to what you have, and be ready to advance. We must be greatly superior to the enemy in numbers on one flank or the other, and by working around at each end, we will find where the enemy's weak point is.’ To Butler Grant described the operations on the left, and said: ‘This would look as if no heavy force had been sent north of the James. I think it will be advisable for you to reconnoitre up the Darbytown road, and if there appears to be any chance for an advance, make it.’ No further movement of importance, however, occurred on either front. The enemy modified his defensive line north of the James, and Grant strengthened Fort Harrison and turned its guns against those who had constructed it, while Butler pushed out his cavalry as far as the fortifications on the Charles City road; but neither army attempted another assault. On the 1st of October, Warren and Gregg were each attacked on the extreme left, but each repulsed the enemy; on the 2nd, Meade advanced his whole force and discovered the rebels, withdrawn to their main line, and refusing battle outside of fortifications. The necessary works were then laid out, and the national line was extended from the Weldon road to the position gained at Peeble's farm. This was a little more than a mile from the Boydtown road, and not more than two miles from the Southside railroad.

In these operations there were about sixty-six thousand men engaged on a side. Butler lost on the [78] 29th and 30th of September, three hundred and ninety-four men killed, fifteen hundred and fifty-four wounded, and three hundred and twenty-four missing. Meade's losses, from September 30th to October 2nd, were one hundred and fifty-one killed, five hundred and ten wounded, and thirteen hundred and forty-eight missing. As usual, there is no record of the rebel loss.

The balancing character of the operations had now become extremely delicate. Ground had been gained by Grant at each extremity; the right and left wings were both advanced under the very eye of Lee; north of the river, the rebel line was actually broken, and a position had been seized full of danger to Richmond; while on the left, the enemy seemed almost out-flanked at last. Nevertheless, with his admirable defences and the immense advantage of interior lines, Lee was still able to hold the national columns off, until reinforcements could be thrown from one side to the other of the James. Holding the chord of the circle, he could transfer troops in a few hours, while Grant, on the arc, required a day to move his men from Petersburg to the Richmond front, or from Fort Harrison to Peeble's farm. The superiority in numbers possessed by one was more than equalized by the position the other enjoyed.

Grant, however, was steadily acquiring ground which must in the end enable him to drive the rebels out of both Richmond and Petersburg. Lee could not possibly stretch his line much further, and the greatest consternation prevailed in Richmond at these double assaults. Refugees and prisoners reported that the evacuation of the city was contemplated, [79] lest the lines of supply, or even of retreat, should be intercepted. The local reserves were in Butler's front, even to the police and the clerks of the government. The publication of the newspapers was suspended, for the printers were called out to defend the city. Offices and shops were closed; the church bells sounded the alarm for hours; and when the capture of Fort Harrison became known, the excitement was greater than ever before. Guards were sent into the streets to impress every able-bodied man they met, and even members of the government did not escape arrest. Every white male in Richmond between the ages of seventeen and fifty-five was ordered under arms.

But it was not only the inhabitants of Richmond who were alarmed. On the 4th of October, Lee himself wrote to his government in desponding terms. ‘I beg leave to inquire whether there is any prospect of my obtaining any increase to this army. If not, it will be very difficult for us to maintain ourselves. The enemy's numerical superiority enables him to hold the lines with adequate force, and extend on each flank with numbers so much greater than ours that we can only meet his corps increased by recent recruits, with a division reduced by long and arduous service.10 We cannot fight to advantage with such [80] odds, and there is the gravest reason to apprehend the result of every encounter . . . It is certain that the need of men was never greater. . . The men at home on various pretexts must be brought out and put in the army at once, unless we would see the enemy reap the great moral and material advantages of a successful issue of this most costly campaign. . . If we can get our entire arms-bearing population in Virginia and North Carolina, and relieve all detailed men with negroes, we may be able, with the blessing of God, to keep the enemy in check till the beginning of winter. If we fail to do this, the result may be calamitous.’

There have been critics who pronounced Grant's method of extending north and south of the James simultaneously—a blunder; but Lee, it appears, was of a different mind.

1 See Vol. 1., pp. 554 and 555.

2 At this time a national officer at the outposts overheard a group of rebel soldiers conversing. ‘Well,’ said one, ‘the Yankees must retreat now, for Wheeler has blown up the tunnel at Dalton, and they can get no more rations by the railroad.’ ‘Oh, hell!’ replied another, ‘don't you know that Sherman carries a duplicate tunnel along.’

3 Wilson had been sent from Sheridan's army a few days before, to take command of Sherman's cavalry.

4 ‘There is one thing, however, I don't wish — to be in command of the defence of Tennessee, unless you and the authorities in Washington deem it absolutely necessary.’—Thomas to Sherman, October 18.

5 ‘Should you succeed in getting to Richmond, the interposition of the whole army between you and your supports need cause you no alarm. With the army under General Meade, supplies would be cut off from the enemy in the event of so unexpected a move, and communication be opened with you, either by the south side or from the White House, before the supplies you would find in the city would be exhausted.’—Grant to Butler, September 27.

6 For this very interesting letter see page 167.

7 Information in regard to national movements was frequently obtained from the rebel newspapers, and was especially valuable when commanders like Sherman and Sheridan were separated from their base or communications.

8 As usual, Lee reported his first success, but failed to state that he was finally repulsed, and that the national troops retained possession of one of his forts.

9 Rebel War Clerk's Diary, Vol. II., page 297.

10 The disparity in numbers was by no means so great as Lee declared. The returns of each army for the month of September show Grant's fighting force, in the armies of the Potomac and the James, to have been 76,000, and Lee's 50,000. There were besides 6,000 rebel troops in the Department of Richmond, and several thousand local reserves in the city, all of whom were sent to the front at this crisis. The national divisions had been reduced by the same ‘long and arduous service’ as Lee's, and Grant's ‘recent recruits’ had not been numerous. The above statement of the national force includes the garrisons of the various forts on the James, as well as all details. There were not more than 66,000 men engaged in the two movements of Butler and Meade, including those in the trenches.

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Alabaha River (Georgia, United States) (2)
West Point (Georgia, United States) (1)
Varina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Talladega (Alabama, United States) (1)
Saint Marks (Florida, United States) (1)
Powder Springs (Georgia, United States) (1)
Pascagoula (Mississippi, United States) (1)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Moscow, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Montgomery, Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
Mobile Bay (Alabama, United States) (1)
Millen (Georgia, United States) (1)
Lost Mountain (Georgia, United States) (1)
Kingston (Alabama, United States) (1)
Kenesaw (Nebraska, United States) (1)
Hornady (Alabama, United States) (1)
Florence, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (1)
Decatur, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Columbia (South Carolina, United States) (1)
City Point (Virginia, United States) (1)
Charles City (Virginia, United States) (1)
Cedartown (Georgia, United States) (1)
Arkansas (Arkansas, United States) (1)
Alleghany Mountains (United States) (1)

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