Captains of the Civil War, A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray
William Wood

Part 4 out of 5

when the exchange of prisoners would have permitted them to do

That was a great week of Federal victory--the week including the
third, fourth, and eighth of July. On the third Lee was defeated
at Gettysburg. On the now doubly "Glorious Fourth" Vicksburg
surrendered and the last Confederate attack was repulsed at
Helena in Arkansas. On the eighth Port Hudson surrendered. With
this the whole Mississippi fell into Federal hands for good. On
the first of August Farragut left New Orleans for New York in the
battle-scarred Hartford after turning over the Mississippi
command to Porter's separate care.

Meanwhile the Confederates in Tennessee, weakened by reinforcing
Johnston against Grant, had been obliged to retire on
Chattanooga. To cover this retirement and make what diversion he
could, Bragg sent John H. Morgan with twenty-five hundred cavalry
to raid Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Perplexing the outnumbering
Federals by his daring, "Our Jack Morgan" crossed the Ohio at
Brandenburg, rode northeast through Indiana, wheeled south at
Hamilton, Ohio, rode through the suburbs of Cincinnati, reached
Buffington Island on the border of West Virginia, and then, hotly
pursued by ever-increasing forces, made northeast toward
Pennsylvania. On the twenty-sixth of July he surrendered near New
Lisbon with less than four hundred men left.

The Confederate main body passed the summer vainly trying to stem
the advance of the Army of the Cumberland, with which Rosecrans
and Thomas skillfully maneuvered Bragg farther and farther south
till they had forced him into and out of Chattanooga. In the
meantime Burnside's Army of the Ohio cleared eastern Tennessee
and settled down in Knoxville.

But in the middle of September Longstreet came to Bragg's rescue;
and a desperate battle was fought at Chickamauga on the
nineteenth and twentieth. The Confederates had seventy thousand
men against fifty-six thousand Federals: odds of five to four.
They were determined to win at any price; and it cost them
eighteen thousand men, killed, wounded, and missing; which was
two thousand more than the Federals lost. But they felt it was
now or never as they turned to bay with, for once, superior
numbers. As usual, too, they coveted Federal supplies. "Come on,
boys, and charge!" yelled an encouraging sergeant, "they have
cheese in their haversacks!" Yet the pride of the soldier stood
higher than hunger. General D.H. Hill stooped to cheer a very
badly wounded man. "What's your regiment?" asked Hill. "Fifth
Confederate, New Orleans, and a damned good regiment it is," came
the ready answer.

Rosecrans, like many another man who succeeds halfway up, failed
at the top. He ordered an immediate general retreat which would
have changed the hard-won Confederate victory into a Federal
rout. But Thomas, with admirable judgment and iron nerve, stood
fast till he had shielded all the others clear. From this time on
both armies knew him as the "Rock of Chickamauga."

The unexpected defeat of Chickamauga roused Washington to
immediate, and this time most sensible, action. Grant was given
supreme command over the whole strategic area. Thomas superseded
Rosecrans. Sherman came down with the Army of the Tennessee. And
Hooker railed through from Virginia with two good veteran corps.
Meanwhile the Richmond Government was more foolish than the
Washington was wise; for it let Davis mismanage the strategy
without any reference to Lee. Bragg also made a capital mistake
by sending Longstreet off to Knoxville with more than a third of
his command just before Grant's final advance. The result was
that Bragg found himself with only thirty thousand men at
Chattanooga when Grant closed in with sixty thousand, and that
Longstreet was useless at Knoxville, which was entirely dependent
on Chattanooga. Whoever won decisively at Chattanooga could have
Knoxville too. Davis, as the highest authority, and Bragg, as the
most responsible subordinate, ensured their own defeat.

Chattanooga was the key to the whole strategic area of the upper
Tennessee; for it was the best road, rail, and river junction
between the lower Mississippi and the Atlantic ports of the
South. It had been held for some time by a Federal garrison which
had made it fairly strong. But toward the end of October it was
short of supplies; and Hooker had to fight Longstreet at
Wauhatchie in the Lookout Valley before it could be revictualed.
When Hooker, Thomas, and Sherman were there together under Grant
in November it was of course perfectly safe; and the problem
changed from defense to attack. The question was how to drive
Bragg from his commanding positions on Missionary Ridge and
Lookout Mountain. The woods and hills offered concealment to the
attack in some places. But Lookout Mountain was a splendid
observation post, twenty-two hundred feet high and crested with
columns of rock. The Ridge was three miles east, the Mountain
three miles south, of Cameron Hill, which stood just west of
Chattanooga, commanding the bridge of boats that crossed the

The battle, fought with great determination on both sides, lasted
three days--the twenty-third, twenty-fourth, and twenty-fifth of
November. Sherman made the flank attack on Missionary Ridge from
the north and Thomas the frontal attack from the west. Hooker
attacked the western flank of Lookout Mountain.

Thomas did the first day's fighting, which was all preliminary
work, by advancing a good mile, taking the Confederate lines on
the lower slopes of the Ridge, and changing their defensive
features to face the Ridge instead of Chattanooga.

At two the next morning Giles Smith's brigade dropped down the
Tennessee in boats and surprised the extreme north pickets placed
by Bragg at the mouth of the South Chickamauga to cover the right
of the Ridge. By noon Sherman's men were over the Tennessee ready
to cooperate with Thomas. Sherman had hidden his camp among the
hills on the other side so well that his movements could not be
observed, even from the commanding height of Lookout Mountain.
The night surprise of Bragg's pickets and the drizzling rain of
the morning prevented the Confederates from hearing or seeing
anything of Sherman's attack in the early afternoon; so he found
himself on the northern flank of Missionary Ridge before Bragg's
main body knew what he was doing. When the Confederates did
attack it was too late; and the twenty-fourth ended with Sherman
entrenched against the flank on even higher ground than Thomas
held against the center. Sherman's cavalry had meanwhile moved
round the flank, on the lower level and much farther off, to cut
Bragg's right rear connection with Chickamauga Station, whence
the rails ran east to Cleveland, Knoxville, and Virginia.

Hooker's work this second day was to feel the Confederate force
on Lookout Mountain while keeping the touch with Thomas, who kept
the touch with Sherman. Mists hid his earlier maneuvers. He
closed in successfully, handled his men to admiration, and gained
more ground than either he or Grant had expected. Having
succeeded so well he changed his demonstration into a regular
attack, which became known as the "Battle above the Clouds." Step
by step he fought his way up, over breastworks and rifle pits,
felled trees and bowlders, through ravines and gullies, till the
vanguard reached the giant palisades of rock which ramparted the
top. The roar of battle was most distinctly heard four miles
away, on Orchard Knob, where Grant and Thomas were anxiously
waiting. But nothing could be seen until a sudden breeze blew the
clouds aside just as the long blue lines charged home and the
broken gray retreated. Then, from thirty thousand watching
Federals, went up a cheer that even cannon could not silence.

At midnight Grant sent a word of encouragement to Burnside at
Knoxville. He then wrote his orders for what he now hoped would
be a completely victorious attack. The twenty-fifth of November
broke beautifully clear, and the whole scene of action remained
in full view all day long. Fearful of being cut off from their
main body on Missionary Ridge the Confederates had left Lookout
Mountain under cover of the dark. But by destroying the bridges
across the. Chattanooga River, which ran through the valley
between the Mountain and the Ridge, they delayed Hooker till late
that afternoon, thus saving their left from an even worse
disaster than the one that overtook their center and their right.

Sherman had desperate work against their right, as Bragg massed
every available gun and man to meet him. This massing, however,
was just what Grant wanted; for he now expected Hooker to appear
on the other flank, which Bragg would either have to give up in
despair or strengthen at the expense of the center, which Thomas
was ready to charge. But with Hooker not appearing, and Sherman
barely holding his own, Grant slipped Thomas from the leash. The
two centers then met hand to hand. But there was no withstanding
the Federal charge. Back went the Confederates, turning to bay at
their second line of defense. Here again they were overborne by
well-led superior numbers and soon put to flight. Sheridan, of
whom we shall hear again in '64, took up the pursuit. Bragg lost
all control of his men. Stores, guns, and even rifles were
abandoned. Thousands of prisoners were taken; and most of the
others were scattered in flight. The battle, the whole campaign,
and even the war in the Tennessee sector, were won.

Vicksburg meant that the trans-Mississippi South would
thenceforth wither like a severed branch. Chattanooga meant that
the Union forces had at last laid the age to the root of the


On the fifth of May we left Lee victorious in Virginia; but with
his indispensable lieutenant, Stonewall Jackson, mortally

Though thoroughly defeated at Chancellorsville, Hooker soon
recovered control of the Army of the Potomac and prepared to
dispute Lee's right of way. Lee faced a difficult, perhaps an
insoluble, problem. Longstreet urged him to relieve the local
pressure on Vicksburg by concentrating every available man in
eastern Tennessee, not only withdrawing Johnston's force from
Grant's rear but also depleting the Confederates in Virginia for
the same purpose. Then, combining these armies from east and west
with the one already there under Bragg, the united Confederates
were to crush Rosecrans in their immediate front and make
Cincinnati their great objective. Lee, however, dared not risk
the loss of his Virginian bases in the meantime; and so he
decided on a vigorous counter-attack, right into Pennsylvania,
hoping that, if successful, this would . produce a greater effect
than any corresponding victory could possibly produce elsewhere.

On the ninth of June a cavalry combat round Brandy Station, in
the heart of Virginia, made Hooker's staff feel certain that Lee
was again going up the Valley and on to Maryland. At one time,
for want of supplies, Lee had to spread out his front along a
line running eighty miles northwest from Fredericksburg to
Strasburg. Hooker, on the keen alert, implored the Government to
let him attack the three Confederate corps in detail. Success
against one at least was certain. Lincoln understood this
perfectly. But the nerves of his colleagues were again on edge;
and no argument could persuade them to adopt the best of all
possible schemes of defense by destroying the enemy's means of
destroying them. They insisted on the usual shield theory of
passive defense, and ordered Hooker to keep between Lee and
Washington whatever might happen. This absurd maneuver was of
course attended with all the usual evil results at the time.
Equally of course, it afterwards drew down the wrath of the
wiseacre public on their own representatives. But wiseacre
publics never stop to think that many a government is forced to
do foolish and even suicidal things in war simply because it
represents the ignorance and folly, as well as the wisdom, of all
who have the vote.

Yet both the loyal public and its Government had some good
reasons to doubt Hooker's ability, even apart from his recent
defeat; and Lincoln, wisest of all--except in applying strategy
to problems he could not fully understand--felt almost certain
that Hooker's character contained at least the seeds of failure
in supreme command. "He talks to me like a father," said Hooker,
on reading the letter Lincoln wrote when appointing him
Burnside's successor. This remarkable letter, dated January 26,
1863, though printed many times, is worth reading again:

"I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of
course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient
reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are
some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.
I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of
course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your
profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in
yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable, quality.
You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good
rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's
command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition, and
thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong
to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother
officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your
recently saying that both the army and the Government needed a
Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that
I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain
successes can set up dictatorships. What I now ask of you is
military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The
Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which
is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all
commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to
infuse into the army, of criticizing their commander and
withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall
assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor
Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an
army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now, beware of
rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward, and
give us victories."

Then came Chancellorsville, doubts at Washington, interference by
Stanton, ill-judged orders from Halleck, and some not very
judicious rejoinders from Hooker himself, who became rather
peevish, to Lincoln's alarm. So when, on the twentyseventh of
June, Hooker tendered his resignation, it was promptly accepted.
With Lee in Pennsylvania there was no time for discussion: only
for finding some one to trust.

Lee, as usual, had divined the political forces working on the
Union armies from Washington and had maneuvered with a
combination of skill and daring that exactly met the situation.
Throwing his left forward (under Ewell) in the Shenandoah Valley
he had driven Milroy out of Winchester on the fourteenth of June
and next day secured a foothold across the Potomac. Then the rest
of his army followed. It was so much stretched out (to facilitate
its food supply) that Lincoln again wished to strike it at any
vulnerable spot. But the Cabinet in general (and Stanton in
particular) were still determined that the Union army should be
their passive shield, not their active sword. On the
twenty-fourth Ewell was already beginning to semicircle
Gettysburg from the Cumberland Valley. On the twenty-eighth, the
day on which Meade succeeded Hooker in the Federal command, the
Confederate semicircle, now formed by Lee's whole army, stretched
from Chambersburg on the west, through Carlisle on the north, to
York on the east; while the massed Federals were still in
Maryland, near Middletown and Frederick, thirty miles south of
Gettysburg, and only forty miles northwest of nervous Washington.

Hooker's successor, George G. Meade, was the fifth defender of
Washington within the last ten months. Luckily for the Union,
Meade was a sound, though not a great, commander, and his hands
were fairly free. Luckily again, he was succeeded in command of
the Fifth Corps by George Sykes, the excellent leader of those
magnificent regulars who fought so well at Antietam and Second
Manassas. The change from interference to control was made only
just in time at Washington; for three days after Meade's free
hand began to feel its way along the threatened front the armies
met upon the unexpected battlefield of Gettysburg.

Lee in Pennsylvania was in the midst of a very hostile population
and facing superior forces which he could only defeat in one of
two difficult ways: either by a sudden, bewildering, and
unexpected attack, like Jackson's and his own at
Chancellorsville, or by an impregnable defense on ground that
also favored a victorious counter-attack and the subsequent
crushing pursuit. But there was no Jackson now; and the nature of
the country did not favor the bewildering of Federals who were
fighting at home under excellent generals well served by a
competent staff and well screened by cavalry. So the "fog of war"
was quite as dense round Lee's headquarters as it was round
Meade's on the first of July, when Lee found that his chosen
point of concentration near Gettysburg was already occupied by
Buford's cavalry, with infantry and some artillery in support.
The surprise--and no very great surprise--was mutual. The
Federals were found where they could stand on their defense in a
very strong position if the rest of their army could come up in
time. And Lee's only advantage was that, having already ordered
concentration round the same position, he had a few hours' start
of Meade in getting there.

Each commander had intended to make the other one attack if
possible; and Meade of course knew that Lee, with inferior
numbers and vastly inferior supplies, could not afford to stay
long among gathering enemies in the hostile North without
decisive action. The Confederates must either fight or retreat
without fighting, and make their choice very soon. So, when the
two armies met at Gettysburg, Lee was practically forced to risk
an immediate action or begin a retreat that might have ruined
Confederate morale.

Gettysburg is one of those battles about which men will always
differ. The numbers present, the behavior of subordinates, the
tactics employed, were, and still are, subjects of dispute. Above
all, there is the vexed question of what Lee should or should not
have done. We have little space to spare for any such
discussions. We can only refer inquirers to the original evidence
(some of which is most conflicting) and give the gist of what
seems to be indubitable fact. The numbers were a good seventy
thousand Confederates against about eighty thousand Federals. But
these are the approximate grand totals; and it must be remembered
that the Confederates, having the start, were in superior numbers
during the first two days. On each side there was an aggrieved
and aggrieving subordinate general, Sickles on the Federal side,
Longstreet on the other. But Sickles was by far the less
important of the two. In tactics the Federals displayed great
judgment, skill, and resolution. The Northern people called
Gettysburg a soldiers' battle; and so, in many ways, it was; for
there was heroic work among the rank and file on both sides. But
it most emphatically was not a soldiers' battle in the sense of
its having been won more by the rank and file than by the
generals in high command; for never did so many Federal chiefs
show to such great advantage. No less than five commanded in
succession between morning and midnight on the first day, each
meeting the crisis till the next senior came up. They were
Buford, Reynolds, Howard, Hancock, Meade. Hunt also excelled in
command of the artillery; and this in spite of much
misorganization of that arm at Washington. Warren was not only a
good commander of the engineers but a good all-round general, as
he showed by seizing, on his own initiative, the Little Round
Top, without which the left flank could never have been held.

Finally, there is the great vexed question of what Lee should or
should not have done. First, it seems clear that (like Farragut
and unlike Grant and Jackson) he lacked the ruthless power of
making every subordinate bend or break in every time of crisis:
otherwise he would have bent or broken Longstreet. Next, it may
have been that he was not then at his best. Concludingly, it may
be granted to armchair (and even other) critics that if
everything had been something else the results might not have
been the same.

Lee, having invaded the North by marching northeast under cover
of the mountains and wheeling southeast to concentrate at
Gettysburg, found Buford's cavalry suddenly resisting him, as
they formed the northwest outpost of Meade's army, which was
itself concentrating round Pipe Creek, near Taneytown in
Maryland, fifteen miles southeast. Gettysburg was a meeting place
of many important roads. It stood at the western end of a branch
line connecting with all the eastern rails. And it occupied a
strong strategic point in the vitally important triangle formed
by Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington. Thus, like a magnet,
it drew the contending armies to what they knew would prove a
field decisive of the whole campaign.

The Federal line, as finally held on the third of July, was
nearly five miles long. The front faced west and was nearly three
miles long. The flanks, thrown back at right angles, faced north
and south. Near the north end of the front stood Cemetery Hill,
near the south the Devil's Den, a maze of gigantic bowlders.
Along the front the ground was mostly ridged, and even the lower
ground about the center was a rise from which a gradual slope
went down to the valley that rose again to the opposite heights
of Seminary Ridge, where Lee had his headquarters only a mile
away. The so-called hills were no more than hillocks, the ridges
were low, and most slopes were those of a rolling country. But
the general contour of the ground, the swelling hillocks on the
flanks (Culp's Hill on the right, the Round Tops on the left) and
the broad glacis up which attackers must advance against the
center, all combined to make the position very strong indeed when
held by even or superior numbers.

The first day's fight began when A.P. Hill's Confederates, with
Longstreet's following, closed in on Gettysburg from the west to
meet Ewell's, who were coming down from the north. Buford's
Federal cavalry resisted Hill's advanced brigades successfully
till Reynolds had brought the First Corps forward in support and
ordered the two other nearest corps to follow at the double
quick. Reynolds was killed early in the day; but not before his
well trained eye had taken in the situation at a glance and his
sure judgment had half committed both armies to that famous

The full commitment came shortly after, when Meade sent Hancock
forward to command the three corps and Buford's cavalry in their
attempt to stem the Confederate advance. Howard was then the
senior general on the field, having taken over from Doubleday,
who had succeeded Reynolds. But he at once agreed that such a
strong position should be held and that Hancock should proceed to
rectify the lines. This was no easy task; for Ewell's
Confederates had meanwhile come down from the north and driven in
the Federal flank on the already hard-pressed front. The front
thereupon gave way and fell back in confusion. But Hancock's
masterly work was quickly done and the Federal line was
reestablished so well that the Confederates paused in their
attack and waited for the morrow.

The Confederates had got as good as they gave, much to their
disgust. Archer, one of their best brigadiers, felt particularly
sore when most of his men were rounded up by Meredith's "Iron
Brigade." When Doubleday saw his old West Point friend a prisoner
he shook hands cordially, saying, "Well, Archer, I AM glad to see
you!" But Archer answered, "Well, I'm not so glad to see YOU--not
by a damned sight!" The fact was that the excellent Federal
defense had come as a very unpleasing surprise upon the rather
too cocksure Confederates. Buford's cavalry and Reynolds's
infantry had staunchly withstood superior numbers; while
Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson actually held back a Confederate
division for some time with the guns of Battery G, Fourth U. S.
Artillery. This heroic youth, only nineteen years of age, kept
his men in action, though they were suffering terrible losses,
till two converging batteries brought him down.

He was well matched by a veteran of over seventy, John Burns, an
old soldier, whom the sound of battle drew from his little home
like the trumpet-call to arms. In his swallow-tailed,
brass-buttoned, old-fashioned coatee, Burns seemed a very comic
sight to the nearest boys in blue until they found he really
meant to join them and that he knew a thing or two of war. "Which
way are the rebels?" he asked, "and where are our troops? I know
how to fight--I've fit before." So he did; and he fought to good
purpose till wounded three times.

Late in the evening Meade arrived and inspected the lines by
moonlight. Having ordered every remaining man to hasten forward
he faced the second day with wellfounded anxiety lest Lee's full
strength should break through before his own last men were up.
His right was not safe against surprise by the Confederates who
slept at the foot of Culp's Hill, and his left was in imminent
danger from Longstreet's corps. But on the second day Longstreet
marked his disagreement with Lee's plans by delaying his attack
till Warren, with admirable judgment, had ordered the Round Tops
to be seized at the double quick and held to the last extremity.
Then, after wasting enough time for this to be done, Longstreet
attacked and was repulsed; though his men fought very well.
Meanwhile Ewell, whose attack against the right was to
synchronize with Longstreet's against the left, was delayed by
Longstreet till the afternoon, when he carried Culp's Hill.

This was the only Confederate success; for Early failed to carry
Cemetery Hill, the adjoining high ground, which formed the right
center, and the rest of the Federal line remained intact; though
not without desperate struggles.

The third was the decisive day; and on it Meade rose to the
height of his unappreciated skill. This was the first great
battle in which all the chief Federals worked so well together
and the first in which the commander-in-chief used reserves with
such excellent effect, throwing them in at exactly the right
moment and at the proper place. But these indispensable qualities
were not of the kind that the public wanted to acclaim, or,
indeed, of the kind that they could understand.

Meade was determined to clear his flanks. So he began at dawn to
attack Ewell on Culp's Hill and kept on doggedly till, after four
hours of strenuous fighting, he had driven him off. By this time
Meade saw that Lee was not going to press home any serious attack
against the Round Tops and Devil's Den on the left. So the main
interest of the whole battle shifted to the center of the field,
where Lee was massing for a final charge. The idea had been to
synchronize three cooperating movements against Meade's whole
position. His left was to have been held by a demonstration in
force by Longstreet against the Devil's Den and Round Tops, while
Ewell held Culp's Hill, which seemed to be at his mercy, and
which would flank any Federal retreat. At the same time Meade's
center was to have been rushed by Pickett's fresh division
supported by three attached brigades. But though the central
force was ready before nine o'clock it never stepped off till
three; so great was Longstreet's delay in ordering Pickett's
advance. Meanwhile the Federals had made Culp's Hill quite safe
against Ewell. So all depended now on the one last desperate
assault against the Federal center.

This immortal assault is known as Pickett's Charge because it was
made by Pickett's division of Longstreet's corps supported by
three brigades from Hill's--Wilcox's, Perry's, and Pettigrew's.
The whole formed a mass of about ten thousand men. If they broke
the Federal line in two, then every supporting Confederate was to
follow, while the rest turned the flanks. If they failed, then
the battle must be lost.

Hour after hour passed by. But it was not till well past one that
Longstreet opened fire with a hundred and forty guns. Hunt had
seventy-seven ready to reply. But after firing for half an hour
he ceased, wishing to reserve his ammunition for use against the
charging infantry. This encouraged the Confederate gunners, who
thought they had silenced him. They then continued for some time,
preparing the way for the charge, but firing too high and doing
little execution against the Federal infantry, who were lying
down, mostly under cover. Hunt's guns were more exposed and
formed better targets; so some of them suffered severely: none
more than those of Battery A, Fourth U.S. Artillery. This gallant
battery had three of its limbers blown up and replaced. Wheels
were also smashed to pieces and guns put out of action, till only
a single gun, with men enough to handle it, was left with only a
single officer. This heroic young lieutenant, Alonzo H. Cushing
(brother to the naval Cushing who destroyed the Albemarle), then
ran his gun up to the fence and fired his last round through it
into Pickett's men as he himself fell dead.

Pickett advanced at three o'clock, to the breathless admiration
of both friend and foe. He had a mile of open ground to cover.
But his three lines marched forward as steadily and blithely as
if the occasion was a gala one and they were on parade. The
Confederate bombardment ceased. The Federal guns and rifles held
their fire. Fate hung in silence on those gallant lines of gray.
Then the Federal skirmishers down in the valley began fitfully
firing; and the waiting masses on the Federal slopes began to
watch more intently still. "Here they come! Here comes the
infantry!" The blue ranks stirred a little as the men felt their
cartridge boxes and the sockets of their bayonets. The calm
warnings of the officers could be heard all down the line of
Gibbon's magnificent division, which stood straight in Pickett's
path. "Steady, men, steady! Don't fire yet!"

For a very few, tense minutes Pickett's division disappeared in
an undulation of the ground. Then, at less than point-blank
range, it seemed to spring out of the very earth, no longer in
three lines but one solid mass of rushing gray, cresting, like a
tidal wave, to break in fury on the shore. Instantly, as if in
answer to a single word, Hunt's guns and Gibbon's rifles crashed
out together, and shot, shell, canister, and bullet cut gaping
wounds deep into the dense gray ranks. Still, the wave broke;
and, from its storm-blown top, one furious tongue surged over the
breastwork and through the hedge of bayonets. It came from
Armistead's brigade of stark Virginians. He led it on; and, with
a few score men, reached the highwater mark of that last spring

When he fell the tide of battle turned; turned everywhere upon
that stricken field; turned throughout the whole campaign; turned
even in the war itself.

As Pickett's men fell back they were swept by scythe-like fire
from every gun and rifle that could mow them down. Not a single
mounted officer remained; and of all the brave array that Pickett
led three-fourths fell killed or wounded. The other fourth
returned undaunted still, but only as the wreckage of a storm.

Lee's loss exceeded forty per cent of his command. Meade's loss
fell short of thirty. But Meade was quite unable to pursue at
once when Lee retired on the evening of the fourth. The opposing
cavalry, under Pleasonton and Stuart respectively, had fought a
flanking battle of their own, but without decisive result. So Lee
could screen his retreat to the Potomac, where, however, his
whole supply train might have been cut off if its escort under
the steadfast Imboden had not been reinforced by every teamster
who could pull a trigger.

Gettysburg and Vicksburg, coming together, of course raised the
wildest expectations among the general public, expectations which
found an unworthy welcome at Government headquarters, where
Halleck wrote to Meade on the fourteenth: "The escape of Lee's
army has created great dissatisfaction in the mind of the
President." Meade at once replied: "The censure is, in my
judgment, so undeserved that I most respectfully ask to be
immediately relieved from the command of this army." Wiser
counsels thereupon prevailed.

Lee and Meade maneuvered over the old Virginian scenes of action,
each trying to outflank the other, and each being hampered by
having to send reinforcements to their friends in Tennessee,
where, as we have seen already, Bragg and Rosecrans were now
maneuvering in front of Chattanooga. In October (after the
Confederate victory of Chickamauga) Meade foiled Lee's attempt to
bring on a Third Manassas. The campaign closed at Mine Run, where
Lee repulsed Meade's attempted surprise in a three-day action,
which began on the twenty-sixth of November, the morrow of
Grant's three days at Chattanooga.

From this time forward the South was like a beleaguered city,
certain to fall if not relieved, unless, indeed, the hearts of
those who swayed the Northern vote should fail them at the next


The Navy's task in '63 was complicated by the many foreign
vessels that ran only between two neutral ports but broke bulk
into blockade-runners at their own port of destination. For
instance, a neutral vessel, with neutral crew and cargo, would
leave a port in Europe for a neutral port in America, say, Nassau
in the Bahamas or Matamoras on the Rio Grande. She could not be
touched of course at either port or anywhere inside the
three-mile limit. But international law accepted the doctrine of
continuous voyage, by which contraband could be taken anywhere on
the high seas, provided, of course, that the blockader could
prove his case. If, for example, there were ten times as many
goods going into Matamoras as could possibly be used through that
port by Mexico, then the presumption was that nine-tenths were
contraband. Presumption becoming proof by further evidence, the
doctrine of continuous voyage could be used in favor of the
blockaders who stopped the contraband at sea between the neutral
ports. The blockade therefore required a double line of
operation: one, the old line along' the Southern coast, the
other, the new line out at sea, and preferably just beyond the
three-mile limit outside the original port of departure, so as to
kill the evil at its source. Nassau and Matamoras gave the coast
blockade plenty of harassing work; Nassau because it was "handy
to" the Atlantic ports, Matamoras because it was at the mouth of
the Rio Grande, over the shoals of which the Union warships could
not go to prevent contraband crossing into Texas, thence up to
the Red River, down to the Mississippi (between the Confederate
strongholds of Vicksburg and Port Hudson) and on to any other
part of the South. But what may be called the highseas blockade
was no less harassing, complicated as it was by the work of
Confederate raiders.

The coast blockade of '63 was marked by two notable ship duels
and three fights round Charleston, then, as always, a great storm
center of the wax. At the end of January two Confederate gunboats
under Commodore Ingraham attacked the blockading flotilla of
Charleston, forced the Mercedita to surrender, badly mauled the
Keystone State, and damaged the Quaker City. But, though some
foreign consuls and all Charleston thought the blockade had been
raised for the time being, it was only bent, not broken.

At the end of February the Union monitor Montauk destroyed the
Confederate privateer Nashville near Fort McAllister on the
Ogeechee River in Georgia. In April nine Union monitors steamed
in to test the strength of Charleston; but, as they got back more
than they could give, Admiral Du Pont wisely decided not to try
the fight-to-a-finish he had meant to make next morning. Wassaw
Sound in Georgia was the scene of a desperate duel on the
seventeenth of June, when the Union monitor Weehawken captured
the old blockade-runner Fingal, which had been converted into the
new Confederate ram Atlanta. The third week in August witnessed
another bombardment of Charleston, this time on a larger scale,
for a longer time, and by military as well as naval means. But
Charleston remained defiant and unconquered both this year and
the next.

Confederate raiders were at work along the trade routes of the
world in '63, doing much harm by capture and destruction, and
even more by shaking the security of the American mercantile
marine. American crews were hard to get when so many hands were
wanted for other war work; and American vessels were increasingly
apt to seek the safety of a neutral flag.

Slowly, and with much perverse interference to overcome in the
course of its harassing duties, the Union navy was getting the
strangle-hold that killed the sea-girt South. By '64 the North
had secured this strangle-hold; and nothing but foreign
intervention or the political death of the Northern War Party
could possibly shake it off. The South was feeling its practical
enislement as never before. The strong right arm of the Union
navy held it fast at every point but three--Wilmington,
Charleston, and Mobile; and round these three the stern
blockaders grew stronger every day. The Sabine Pass and Galveston
also remained in Southern hands; and the border town of Matamoras
still imported contraband. But these other three points were
closely watched; and the greatly lessened contraband that did get
through them now only served the western South, which had been
completely severed from the eastern South by the fall of
Vicksburg and Port Hudson. The left arm of the Union navy now
held the whole line of the Mississippi, while the gripping hand
held all the tributary streams--Ohio, Cumberland, and
Tennessee--from which the Union armies were to invade, divide,
and devastate the eastern South this year.

Several Southern raiders were still at large in '64. But the most
famous or notorious three have each their own year of glory. The
Florida belongs to '63, the Shenandoah to '65. So the one great
raiding story we have now to tell is that of the Alabama, the
greatest of them all.

The Alabama was a beautiful thousand-ton wooden barkentine, built
by the Lairds at Birkenhead in '62, with standing rigging of
wire, a single screw driven by two horizontal three-hundred horse
power engines, coal room for three hundred and fifty tons, eight
good guns, the heaviest a hundred-pound rifle, and a maximum crew
of one hundred and forty-nine--all ranks and ratings--under
Captain Raphael Semmes, late U.S.N. Semmes was not only a very
able officer but an accomplished lawyer, well posted on
belligerent and neutral rights at sea.

For nearly two years the Alabama roved the oceans of the Old
World and the New, taking sixty-six Union vessels valued at seven
million dollars, spreading the terror of her name among all the
merchantmen that flew the Stars and Stripes, and infuriating the
Navy by the wonderful way in which she contrived to escape every
trap it set for her. She was designed for speed rather than for
fighting, and, with her great spread of canvas, could sometimes
work large areas under sail. But, even so, her runs, captures,
and escapes formed a series of adventures that no mere luck could
have possibly performed with a fluctuating foreign crew commanded
by ex-officers of the Navy. Her wanderings took her through
nearly a hundred degrees of latitude, from the coast of Scotland
to St. Paul Island, south of the Indian Ocean, also through more
than two hundred degrees of longitude, from the Gulf of Mexico to
the China Sea. She captured "Yankees" within one day's steaming
of the New York Navy Yard as well as in the Straits of Sunda.
West of the Azores and off the coast of Brazil her captures came
so thick and fast that they might have almost been a flock of
.sheep run down there by a wolf. Finally, to fill the cup of
wrath against her, she had sunk a blockader off the coast of
Texas, given the slip to a Union manof-war at the Cape of Good
Hope, and kept the Navy guessing her unanswered riddles for two
whole years.

Imagine, then, the keen elation with which all hands aboard the
U.S.S. Kearsarge heard at their berth off Flushing that the
Alabama was in port at Cherbourg on the Channel coast of France,
only one day's sail southwest! And there she was when the
Kearsarge came to anchor; and every Northern eye was turned to
see the ship of which the world had heard so much. The Kearsarges
hardly dared to hope that there would be a fight; for they had
the stronger vessel, and now the faster one as well. The Alabama
had been built for speed; but she had knocked about so much
without a proper overhaul that her copper sheathing was in rags,
while she was more or less strained. in nearly every other part.
The Kearsarge, on the other hand, was in good order, with
mantlets of chain cable protecting her vitals, with one-third
greater horse power, with fourteen more men in her crew, and with
two big pivot guns throwing eleven inch shells with great force
at short ranges. Moreover, the Kearsarge, with her superior speed
and stronger hull, could choose the range and risk close
quarters,. The Alabamas were also keen to estimate respective
strengths. But the French authorities naturally kept the two
ships pretty far apart; so the Alabamas never saw the chain
mantlets which the Kearsarges had cleverly hidden under a
covering of wood that appeared to be flush with the hull.

The Kearsarges had a second and still more elating surprise when
they heard the Alabama was coming out to fight. Semmes was
apparently anxious to show that his raider could be as gallant in
fighting a man-of-war as she was effective in sinking merchant
vessels; so he wrote his challenge to the Confederate Consul at
Cherbourg, who passed it on to the U. S. Consul, who handed it to
Captain Winslow, commanding the Kearsarge. Still, four days
passed without the Alabama; and the Kearsarges were giving up
hope, when, suddenly, on Sunday morning, the nineteenth of June,
just as they had rigged church and fallen in for prayers, out
came the Alabama. The Kearsarge thereupon drew off, so that the
Alabama could not easily escape to neutral waters if the duel
went against her. Cherbourg, of course, was all agog to see the
fight; and many thousands of people, some from as far as Paris,
watched every move. An English yacht, the Deerhound, kept an
offing of about a mile, ready to rescue survivors from a watery
grave. Its owner, with his wife and family, had intended to stay
ashore and go to church. But, when they heard the Alabama was
really going out, he put the question to the vote around the
breakfast-table, whereupon it was carried unanimously that the
Deerhound should go too.

When the deck-officer of the Kearsarge sang out, "Alabama!"
Captain Winslow put down his prayerbook, seized his
speaking-trumpet, and turned to gain a proper offing, while the
drum beat to general quarters and the ship was cleared for
action, with pivot-guns to starboard. The weather was fine, with
a slight haze, little sea, and a light west breeze. Having drawn
the Alabama far enough to sea, the Kearsarge turned toward her
again, showing the starboard bow. When at a mile the Alabama
fired her hundred-pounder. For nearly the whole hour this famous
duel lasted the ships continued fighting in the same way--
starboard to starboard, round and round a circle from half to a
quarter mile across. Each captain stood on the horse-block
abreast the mizzen-mast to direct the fight. Semmes presently
called to his executive officer: "Mr. Kell, use solid shot! Our
shell strike the enemy's side and fall into the water" (after
bounding off the iron mantlets Winslow had so cleverly
concealed). The Kearsarge's gunnery was magnificent, especially
from the after-pivot, which Quartermaster William Smith fired
with deadly aim, even when three of his gun's crew had been
wounded by a shell. These three, strange to say, were the only
casualties that occurred aboard the Kearsarge. But at sea the
stronger side usually suffers much less and the weaker much more
than on land. The Alabama lost forty: killed, drowned, and

The Kearsarges soon saw how the fight was going and began to
cheer each first-rate shot. "That's a good one! Now we have her!
Give her another like the last!" The big eleven-inchers got home
repeatedly as the range decreased; so much so that Semmes ordered
Kell to keep the Alabama headed for the coast the next time the
circling brought her bow that way. This would bring her port side
into action, which was just what Semmes wanted now, because she
had a dangerous list to starboard, where the water was pouring
through the shot-holes. Kell changed her course with perfect
skill, righting the helm, hoisting the head-sails, hauling the
fore-trysail-sheet well aft, and pivoting to port for a broadside
delivered almost as quickly as if there had not been a change at
all. But at this moment the engineer came up to say the water had
put his fires out and that the ship was sinking. At the same time
a strange thing happened. An early shot from the Kearsarge had
carried away the Alabama's colors; and now the Alabama's own last
broadside actually announced her own defeat by "breaking out" the
special Stars and Stripes that Window had run up his mizzenmast
on purpose to break out in case of victory. A cannon ball had
twitched the cord that held the flag rolled up "in stops."

Semmes sent his one remaining boat to announce his surrender;
threw his sword into the sea; and jumped in with the survivors.
The Deerhound, on authority from Winslow, had already closed in
to the rescue, followed by two French pilot boats and two from
the Kearsarge; when suddenly the Alabama, rearing like a stricken
horse, plunged to her doom.

Long before the Alabama's end the Navy had been preparing for the
finishing blows against the Southern ports. Farragut had returned
to New Orleans in January, '64, hoping for immediate action. But
vexatious delays at Washington postponed his great attack till
August, when he crowned his whole career by his master-stroke
against Mobile. Grant was equally annoyed by this absurd delay,
which was caused by the eccentric, and therefore entirely
wasteful, Red River Expedition of '64, an expedition we shall
ignore otherwise than by pointing out, in this and the succeeding
chapters, that it not only postponed the overdue attack on Mobile
but spoilt Sherman's grand strategy as well as Farragut's and
Grant's. Banks commanded it. But by this time even he had learnt
enough of war to know that it was a totally false move. So he
boldly protested against it. But Halleck's orders, dictated by
the Government, were positive. So there was nothing for it but to
suffer a well-deserved defeat while trying to kill the dead and
withering branches of Confederate power beyond the Mississippi,
in order to "show the flag in Texas" and say "hands off!" to
Mexico and France in the least effective way of all.

During this delay the Confederate ram Albemarle came down the
Roanoke River, hoping to break through the local blockade in
Albemarle Sound and so give North Carolina an outlet to the sea.
Two attempts against Newbern, which closed the way out to Pamlico
Sound, had failed; but now (the fifth of May) great hopes were
set upon the Albemarle. At first she seemed impregnable; and the
Federal shot and shell glanced harmlessly off her iron sides. But
presently Commander Roe of the Sassacus (a light-draft,
pair-paddle, double-ender gunboat) getting at right angles to
her, ordered his engineer to stuff the fires with oiled waste and
keep the throttle open. "ALL HANDS, LIE DOWN!" shouted Roe, as
the throbbing engines drove his vessel to the charge. Then came
an earthquake shock: the Sassacus crashed her bronze beak into
the Albemarle's side. Both vessels were disabled; a shell from
the Albemarle burst the boilers of the Sassacus, scalding the
engineers. But the rest fought off the attempt made by the
Albemarles to board. Presently the furious opponents drifted
apart; and the Albemarle, unable to face her other enemies, took
refuge upstream. There, on the twenty-seventh of October, she was
heroically attacked and sunk by Lieutenant W.B. Cushing, U.S.N.,
with a spar torpedo projecting from a little steam launch.
Cushing himself swam off through a hail of bullets, worked his
way through the woods, seized a skiff belonging to one of the
enemy's outposts, and reached the flagship half dead but wholly

Between the Albemarle's two fights Farragut took Mobile after a
magnificent action on the fifth of of August. There were
batteries ashore, torpedoes across the channel, the Tennessee ram
and other Confederate vessels waiting on the flank: three kinds
of danger to the Union fleet if one false movement had been made.
But Farragut's touch was sure. He sent his ironclads through next
to the batteries, which were only really dangerous on one side.
This protected the wooden ships against the batteries and the
ironclads against the torpedoes; for the Confederates had to
leave part of the fairway clear in order to use it themselves.
Through this narrow channel the four strongly armored monitors
led the desperate way, a little ahead and to starboard of the
wooden vessels, which followed in pairs, each pair lashed
together, with the stronger on the starboard side, next to Fort

The Confederates in Fort Morgan, and in the small and distant
Fort Powell on the other side, hardly reached a thousand men.
Their force afloat was also comparatively small: the ironclad ram
Tennessee and three side-wheeler gunboats. But the great strength
of their position and the many dangers to a hostile fleet
combined to make Farragut's attack a very serious operation, even
with his four monitors, eight screw sloops, and four smaller
vessels. The Union army, which took no part in this great attack,
was over five thousand strong, and lost only seven men in the
land bombardment later on.

Farragut crossed the bar in the Hartford at ten past six in the
morning with the young flood tide and a westerly breeze to blow
the smoke against Fort Morgan. All his ships ran up the Stars and
Stripes not only at the peak, as usual, but at each mast-head as
well. Farragut himself at first took post in the port main
rigging. But as the smoke of battle rose around him he climbed
higher and higher till he got close under the maintop, where a
seaman, sent up by Captain Drayton, lashed him on securely.

All went well amid the furious cannonade till the monitor
Tecumseh, taking the wrong side of the channel buoy in her
anxiety to ram the Tennessee, ran over the torpedoes, was
horribly holed by the explosion, and plunged headforemost to the
bottom, her screw madly whirling in the air. Nor was this the
worst; for the Tecumseh's mistake had thrown the other monitors
out of their proper lineahead, athwart the wooden ships, which
began to slow and swing about in some confusion. The Confederates
redoubled their fire. Ahead lay the fatal torpedoes. For a moment
Farragut could not decide whether to risk an advance at all costs
or to turn back beaten. He was a very devout as well as a most
determined man; and his simple prayer, "O God, shall I go on?"
seemed answered by the echo of his soul, "Go on!" So on he went,
not in unreflecting exaltation, but in exaltation based on
knowledge and on skill. Like Cromwell, he might well have said,
"Trust in the Lord and keep your powder dry!" For he had done all
that naval foresight could have done to ensure success. And now,
in one lightning flash of genius, he reviewed the situation. He
knew the torpedoes of his day were often unreliable, that they
exploded only on a special kind of shock, that those which did
explode could not be replaced in action, that they were all fixed
to their own spots, and that if one ship was blown up her
next-astern would get through safely.

The Brooklyn, his next-ahead, was in his way. So he ordered the
flagship Hartford and her lashedtogether consort, the
double-ender Metacomet, to use, the one her screw, the other her
paddles, in opposite directions, till he had cleared the
Brooklyn's stern. As he, drew clear and headed for the
danger-channel a shoutwent up from the Brooklyn's deck--"'ware
torpedoes!" But Farragut, his mind made up, instantly roared
back--"Damn the torpedoes!" Then, turning to the Hartford's and
Metacomet's decks, he called his orders down: "Four bells!
Captain Drayton, go ahead! Captain Jouett, full speed!" In answer
to the order of "four bells" the engines worked their very utmost
and the two vessels dashed ahead. Torpedoes knocked against the
bottom and some of the primers actually snapped. But nothing
exploded; and Farragut won through.

Inside the harbor the Tennessee fought hard against the
overwhelming Union fleet. But her lowpowered engines gave her no
chance at quick maneuvers. Three vessels rammed her in
succession; and she was forced to surrender.

After this purely naval victory on the fifth of August, General
Granger's troops invested Fort Morgan, which, becoming the target
of an irresistible converging fire from both land and sea on the
twenty-second, surrendered on the twenty-third.

The next objective of a joint expedition was Fort Fisher, which
stood at the end of a long, low tongue of land between the sea
and Cape Fear River. Fort Fisher guarded the entrance to
Wilmington in North Carolina, the port, above all others, from
which the Confederate armies drew their oversea supplies. Lee
wrote to Colonel Lamb, its commandant, saying that he could not
subsist if it was taken. Lamb had less than two thousand men in
the fort; but there were six thousand more forming an army of
support outside. The Confederates, however, had no naval force to
speak of, while the Union fleet, commanded by Admiral Porter, was
the largest that had ever yet assembled under the Stars and
Stripes. There were nearly sixty fighting vessels of all kinds,
including five new ironclads and the three finest new frigates.
The guns that were carried exceeded six hundred.

There was also a mine ship, the old Louisiana, stuffed
chock-a-block with powder to blow in the side of the fort. The
Washington wiseacres set great store on this new mine of theirs.
It was, of course, to end the war. But naval and military experts
on the spot were more than doubtful. On the night of the
twenty-third of December the Louisiana was safely worked in near
the fort by brave Commander Rhind, who fired the slow match and
escaped unhurt with his devoted crew of volunteers. A tremendous
explosion followed. But, as there was nothing to drive the force
of it against the walls, it simply resulted in an enormous flurry
of water, mud, sand, earth, and bits of flaming wreckage.

Next morning the fleet bombarded with such success as to silence
many of the guns opposed to them. But on Christmas Day General
Weitzel reported that an assault would fail; whereupon General
Butler concurred and retreated, much to the rage of the fleet,
which thought quite otherwise.

In a few days General Terry arrived with the same white troops
reinforced by two small colored brigades, making a total of eight
thousand men. To these Porter, strongly reinforced, added a naval
brigade, two thousand strong, that volunteered to storm the sea
face of Fort Fisher. These gallant men had only cutlasses and
pistols--except the four hundred marines, who carried bayonets
and rifles. They were a scratch lot, from the soldier's point of
view, never having been landed together as a single unit till
called upon to assault the most dangerous features of the fort.
Yet, though they were repulsed with considerable loss, they
greatly helped to win the day by obliging the defenders to divide
their forces. As Terry's army was, by itself, four or five times
stronger than Lamb's entire command the military stormers
succeeded in fighting their way through every line of defense and
compelling a surrender. They did exceedingly well. But their rear
was safe, because Bragg had withdrawn the supporting army for
service elsewhere; while, in their front, the enemy defenses had
been almost torn out by the roots in many places under the
terrific converging fire of six hundred naval guns for three
successive days.

When Fort Fisher surrendered on the fifteenth of January (1865)
the exhausted South had only one good port and one good raider
left: Charleston and the Shenandoah.


On March 9, 1864, at the Executive Mansion, and in the presence
of all the Cabinet Ministers, Lincoln handed Grant the
Lieutenant-General's commission which made him Commander-in-Chief
of all the Union armies--a commission such as no one else had
held since Washington. On April 9, 1865, Grant received the
surrender of Lee at Appomattox; and the four years war was ended
by a thirteen months campaign.

Victor of the River War in '63, Grant moved his headquarters from
Chattanooga to Nashville soon before Christmas. He then expected
not only to lead the river armies against Atlanta in '64 but, at
the same time, to send another army against Mobile, where it
could act in conjunction with the naval forces under Farragut's

He consequently made a midwinter tour of inspection: southeast to
Chattanooga, northeast to Knoxville and Cumberland Gap, northwest
to Lexington and Louisville, thence south, straight back to
Nashville. This satisfied him that his main positions were
properly taken and held, and that a well-concerted drive would
clear his own strategic area of all but Forrest's elusive

It was the hardest winter known for many years. The sticky clay
roads round Cumberland Gap had been churned by wheels and pitted
by innumerable feet throughout the autumn rains. Now they were
frozen solid and horribly encumbered by debris mixed up with
thousands upon thousands of perished mules and horses. Grant
regretted this terrible wastage of animals as much in a personal
as in a military way; for, like nearly all great men, his
sympathies were broad enough to make him compassionate toward
every kind of sentient life. No Arab ever loved his horse better
than Grant loved his splfndid charger Cincinnati, the worthy
counterpart of Traveler, Lee's magnificent gray.

Summoned to Washington in March, Grant, after one scrutinizing
look at the political world, then and there made up his steadfast
mind that no commander-in-chief could ever carry out his own
plans from any distant point; for, even in his fourth year of the
war, civilian interference was still being practiced in defiance
of naval and military facts and needs, and of some very serious

Lincoln stood wisely for civil control. But even he could not
resist the perverting pressure in favor of the disastrous Red
River Expedition, against which even Banks protested. Public and
Government alike desired to give the French fair warning that the
establishment of an imperial Mexico, especially by means of
foreign intervention, was regarded as a semi-hostile act. There
were two entirely different ways in which this warning could be
given: one completely effective without being provocative, the
other provocative without being in the very least degree
effective. The only effective way was to win the war; and the
best way to win the war was to strike straight at the heart of
the South with all the Union forces. The most ineffective way was
to withdraw Union forces from the heart of the war, send them off
at a wasteful tangent, misuse them in eccentric operations just
where they would give most offense to the French, and then expose
them to what, at best, could only be a detrimental victory, and
to what would much more likely be defeat, if not disaster.

Yet, to Grant's and Farragut's and every other soldier's and
sailor's disgust, this worst way of all was chosen; and Banks's
forty thousand sorely needed veterans were sent to their double
defeat at Sabine Cross Roads and Pleasant Hill on the eighth and
ninth of April, while Porter's invaluable fleet and the no less
indispensable transports were nearly lost altogether owing to the
long-foretold fall of the dangerous Red River. The one success of
this whole disastrous affair was the admirable work of Colonel
Joseph Bailey, who dammed the water up just in time to let the
rapidly stranding vessels slide into safety through a very narrow

Even the Red River lesson was thrown away on Stanton, whose
interference continued to the bitter end, except when checked by
Lincoln or countered by Grant and Sherman in the field. When
Grant was starting on his tour of inspection he found that
Stanton had forbidden all War Department operators to let
commanding generals use the official cipher except when in
communication with himself. There were to be no secrets at the
front between the commanding generals, even on matters of
immediate life and death, unless they were first approved by
Stanton at his leisure. The fact that the enemy could use
unciphered messages was nothing in his autocratic eyes. Nor did
it prick his conscience to change the wording in ways that
bewildered his own side and served the enemy's turn.

When Grant took the cipher Stanton ordered the operator to be
dismissed. Grant thereupon shouldered the responsibility, saying
that Stanton would have to punish him if any one was punished.
Then Stanton gave in. Grant saw through him clearly. "Mr. Stanton
never questioned his own authority to command, unless resisted.
He felt no hesitation in assuming the functions of the Executive
or in acting without advising with him . . . . He was very timid,
and it was impossible for him to avoid interfering with the
armies covering the capital when it was sought to defend it by an
offensive movement against the army defending the Confederate
capital. The enemy would not have been in danger if Mr. Stanton
had been in the field."

Stanton was unteachable. He never learnt where control ended and
disabling interference began. In the very critical month of
August, '64, he interfered with Hunter to such an extent that
this patriotic general had to tell Grant "he was so embarrassed
with orders from Washington that he had lost all trace of the
enemy." Nor was that the end of Stanton's interference with the
operations in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln's own cipher letter
to Grant on the third of August shows what both these great men
had to suffer from the weak link in the chain between them.

"I have seen your despatch in which you say, 'I want Sheridan put
in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to
put himself south of the enemy, and follow him to the death.
Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also.' This, I think,
is exactly right, as to how our forces should move. But please
look over the despatches you may have received from here, even
since you made that order, and discover, if you can, that there
is any idea in the head of any one here of "putting our army
SOUTH of the enemy," or of 'following him to the DEATH' in any
direction. I repeat to you it will neither be done or attempted
unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.'

The experts of the loyal North were partly comforted by knowing
that Davis and his ministers had interfered with Jackson, that
during the present campaign they made a crucial mistake about
Johnston, and that they failed to give Lee the supreme command
until it was too late. But no Southern Secretary went quite so
far as Stanton, who actually falsified Grant's order to Sheridan
at the crisis of the Valley campaign in October. Here are Grant's
own words: "This order had to go through Washington, where it was
intercepted; and when Sheridan received what purported to be a
statement of what I wanted him to do it was something entirely

Nor was Stanton the only responsible civilian to interfere with
Grant. There was no government press censorship--perhaps, in this
peculiar war, there could not be one. So the only safety was
unceasing care, even in cases vouched for by civilians of high
official standing. When Grant was beginning the great campaign of
'64 the Honorable Elihu B. Washburne, afterwards United States
Minister to France, introduced one Swinton as the prospective
historian of the war. On this understanding Swinton accompanied
the army. One night Grant gave verbal orders to the staff officer
on duty. Three days later these orders appeared in a Richmond
paper. Shortly afterwards, in the midst of the Wilderness battle,
Swinton was found eavesdropping behind a stump during a midnight
conference at headquarters. Sent off with a serious warning, he
next appeared, in another place, as a prisoner condemned to death
for spying. Grant, satisfied that he was not bent on getting news
for the enemy in particular, but only for the press in general,
released and expelled him with such a warning this time that he
never once came back.

The Union forces at the front were about twice the corresponding
forces of the South: Sherman, who commanded the river armies
after Grant's transfer to Virginia, says: "I always estimated my
force at about double, and could afford to lose two to one
without disturbing our relative proportion." In Virginia the Army
of the Potomac under Meade and the new Army of the James under
Butler, both under Grant's immediate command, totaled over a
hundred and fifty thousand men against the ninety thousand under
Lee. These odds of five to three remained the same when a hundred
and ten thousand Federals went into winter quarters against
sixtysix thousand Confederates at Petersburg. But, when the naval
odds of more than ten to one in favor of the North are added in,
the general odds of two to one are reached on this as well as
other scenes of action. In reserves the odds were very much
greater; for while the South was getting down to its last
available man the North began the following year with nearly one
million in the forces and two millions on the registered reserve.
Thus, even supposing that half the reserves were unfit for active
service, the man-power odds against the South were these: two to
one in arms at the beginning of the great campaign, five to one
at the end of it, and ten to one if the fit reserves were all
included. The odds in transportation by land, and very much more
so by water, were even greater at corresponding times; while the
odds in all the other resources which could be turned to warlike
ends were greater still.

The Southern situation, therefore, was not encouraging from the
naval and military point of view. The border States had long been
lost, then the trans-Mississippi; and now the whole river lea was
held as a base by the North. Only five States remained effective:
Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. These formed an
irregular oblong of about two hundred thousand square miles
between the Appalachians and the sea. There were a good eight
hundred Confederate miles from the Shenandoah Valley to Mobile.
But the three hundred miles across the oblong, even in its widest
part, were everywhere threatened and in some places held by the
North. The whole coast was more closely blockaded than ever; and
only three ports remained with their defenses still in Southern
hands: Wilmington, Charleston, and Mobile. Alabama was threatened
by land and sea from the lower Mississippi and the Gulf. Georgia,
was threatened by Sherman's main body in southeastern Tennessee.
The Carolinas were in less immediate danger. But they were
menaced both from the mountains and the sea; and if the Union
forces conquered Virginia and Georgia, then the Carolinas were
certain to be ground into subjugation between Grant's victorious
forces on the north and Sherman's on the south.

Grant fixed his own headquarters with the Army of the Potomac at
Culpeper Court House, north of the Rapidan. Lee's Army of
Northern Virginia, was at Orange Court House, over twenty miles
south. Grant, taking his own headquarters as the center, regarded
Butler's Army of the James as the left wing, which could unite
with the center round Richmond and Petersburg. The long right
wing ran through the whole of West Virginia, Kentucky, and
Tennessee, clear away to Memphis, with its own headquarters at
Chattanooga. There Sherman faced Johnston, who occupied a strong
position at Dalton, over thirty miles southeast. The great
objectives were, of course, the two main Southern armies under
Lee and Johnston, with Richmond and Atlanta as the chief
positions to be gained.

All other Union forces were regarded as attacking the South from
the rear. Wherever coast garrisons could help to tighten the
blockade or seriously distract Confederate attention they were
left to do so. Wherever they could not they were either depleted
for the front or sent there bodily. The principal Union field
force attacking from the rear was to have been formed by Banks's
forty thousand veterans in conjunction with Farragut's fleet
against Mobile. But the Red River Expedition spoilt that
combination in the spring and postponed it till August, when
Farragut did nearly all the fighting, and the cooperating army
was far too late to produce the distracting effect that Grant had
originally planned.

General Franz Sigel was sent to the upper Shenandoah Valley, both
to guard that approach on Washington and to destroy the resources
on which Lee's army so greatly relied. General George Crook was
given a mounted column to operate from southern West Virginia
against the line of rails running toward Tennessee through the
lower end of the Valley.

The most notable new general was Philip H. Sheridan, whom Grant
selected for the cavalry command. Sheridan was thirty-three, two
years older than his Southern rival, Stuart, and, like him, a
young regular officer who rose to well-earned fame the moment his
first great chance occurred.

Sherman we have met from the very beginning of the war and
followed throughout its course. He was continually rising to more
and more responsible command; but it was only now that he became
the virtual Commander-in-Chief of all the river armies and the
chosen cooperator with Grant on a universal scale. He was of the
old original stock, his first American ancestors having emigrated
from England in 1634. An old regular, with special knowledge of
the South, and in the fullness of his powers at the age of
forty-four, he had developed with the war till there was no
position which he could not fill to the best advantage of the

Grant fixed the fourth of May for the combined advance of all the
converging forces of invasion. There were two weak points where
the Union armies failed: one in the farthest south, where, as we
have so often seen, Banks could not attack Mobile owing to his
absence at Red River; the other in the farthest north, where
Sigel was badly beaten and replaced by Hunter. Here, after much
disabling interference at the hands of Stanton, Hunter was
succeeded by Sheridan, whom Grant himself directed with
consummate skill. There were also two Confederate thorns in the
Federal side: Forrest's cavalry in Sherman's rear, Mosby's
cavalry in Grant's. Forrest roved about the river area, snapping
up small garrisons, cutting communications, and doing a good deal
of damage right up to the Ohio. Mosby, with a much smaller but
equally efficient force, actually raided to and fro in Grant's
immediate rear; and on one occasion nearly captured Grant himself
just on the eve of the opening move. As Grant's unguarded special
train from Washington pulled up at Warrenton Junction, where
there was only one Union official, Mosby's men had just crossed
the track in pursuit of some Federal cavalry.

But neither these two Confederate thorns in the side nor the more
serious Federal failures could stop the general advance. Nor yet
could Butler's lack of success on the James. Butler had seized
and fortified. an exceedingly strong defensive position at
Bermuda Hundred on a peninsula, with navigable water on both
flanks and in rear, and a very narrow neck of land in front. The
only trouble was that it was as hard for him to surmount the
Confederate front across the same narrow neck as it was for the
enemy to surmount his own. He was, in fact, bottled up, with the
cork in the enemy's hands. He did send out cavalry from Suffolk
to cut the rails south of Petersburg. But no permanent damage was
done there. Petersburg itself, which at that time was almost
defenseless, was-not . taken. And in the middle of the month
Beauregard attacked Butler so vigorously as to make the Army of
the James rather a passive than an active force till it was
presently, absorbed by Grant when he arrived before Richmond in

Grant felt perfect confidence only in four prime elements of
victory: first, in his ability to wear Lee down by sheer
attrition if other means failed; next, in his own magnificent
army; then in Sherman's; and lastly in Sheridan's cavalry. His
supply and transport services were nearly perfect, even in his
own most critical eyes. "There never was a corps better organized
than was the quartermaster's corps with the Army of the Potomac
in 1864." His field engineering and his signal service were also
exceedingly good. At every halt the army threw up earth and
timber entrenchments with wonderful rapidity and skill. At the
same time the telegraph and signal corps was busy laying
insulated wires by means of reels on muleback. Parallel lines
would be led to the rear of each brigade till quite clear, when
their ends would be joined by a wire at right angles, from which
headquarters could communicate with every unit at the front.
Sherman's army was equally efficient, and Sheridan's cavalry soon
proved that sweeping raids could be carried out by one side as
well as by the other.

Crossing the Rapidan at the Germanna Ford, Grant marched south
through the Wilderness on the fifth of May. The Wilderness was
densely wooded; the roads were few and bad; the clearings rare
and too small for large units. When Lee attacked from the west
and Grant turned to face him the fighting soon became desperate,
close, and somewhat confused. Neither side gained any substantial
advantage on the first day. Next morning Grant, preparing to
attack at five, was forestalled by Lee, who wished to keep him at
arm's length till Longstreet came up on the southern flank. Again
the opposing armies closed and fought with the greatest
determination for over an hour, when the Confederates fell back
in some confusion. Then Longstreet arrived and restored the
battle till he was severely wounded. After this Lee took command
of his right, or southern, wing and kept up the fight all day.
Meanwhile Sheridan had countered the Confederate cavalry under
Stuart, which had been trying to swing round the same southern
flank. The main bodies of infantry swayed back and forth till
dark, with the woods and breastworks on fire in several places,
and many of the wounded smothering in the smoke.

On the seventh reassuring news came in from Sherman and Butler,
Sheridan drove off the Confederate cavalry at Todd's Tavern, and
the southward march continued. As Grant and Meade rode south that
evening, past Hancock's corps, and the men saw they were heading
straight for Richmond, there was such a burst of cheering that
the Confederates, thinking it meant a night attack, deluged the
intervening woods with a heavy barrage till they found out their

The race for Richmond continued on the eighth, each army trying
to get south of the other without exposing itself to a flank
attack. Grant had sent his wagon trains farther east, to move
south on parallel roads and keep those nearest Lee quite clear
for fighting. This movement at first led Lee to suspect a Federal
retirement on Fredericksburg, which caused him to send
Longstreet's corps south to Spotsylvania. The woods being on
fire, and the men unable to bivouac, the whole corps pushed on to
Spotsylvania, thus forestalling Grant, who had intended to get
there first himself.

This brought on another tremendous battle in the bush. Lee formed
a semicircle, facing north, round Spotsylvania, in a supreme
effort to stem, if not throw back, Grant's most determined
advance. Grant, on the other hand, indomitably pressed home wave
after wave of attack till the evening of the twelfth. The morning
of that desperate day was foggy; and the attack was delayed. The
Federal objective was a commanding salient, jutting out from the
Confederate center, and now weakened by the removal of guns
overnight to follow the apparent Federal move toward the south.
The gray sentries, peering through the dripping woods, suddenly
found them astir. Then wave after wave of densely massed blue
dashed to the assault, swarming up and over on both sides,
regardless of losses, and fighting hand to hand with a fury that
earned this famous salient the name of Bloody Angle. Back and
still back went the outnumbered gray, many of whom were
surrounded by the swirling currents of inpouring blue. But
presently Lee himself came up, and would have led his
reinforcements to the charge if a pleading shout of "General Lee
to the rear!" had not induced him to desist. Every spare
Confederate rushed to the rescue. From right and left and rear
the gray streams came, impetuous and strong, united in one main
current and dashed against the blue. There, in the Bloody Angle,
the battle raged with everincreasing fury until the rising tide
of strife, bursting its narrow bounds, carried the blue attackers
back to where they came from. But they were hardly clear of that
appalling slope before they reformed, presented an undaunted
front once more, and then drew off with stinging resistance to
the very last.

After five days of much rain and little fighting Grant made his
final effort on the eighteenth. This was meant to be a great
surprise. Two corps changed position under cover of the night and
sprang their trap at four in the morning. But Lee was again
before them, ready and resolute as ever. Thirty guns converged
their withering fire on the big blue masses and seemed to burn
them off the field. These masses never closed, as they had done
six days before; and when they fell back beaten the fortnight's
battle in the Wilderness was done.

During it there had been two operations that gave Grant better
satisfaction: Sheridan's raid and Sherman's advance. As large
bodies of cavalry could not maneuver in the bush Grant had sent
Sheridan off on his Richmond Raid ten days before. Striking south
near Spotsylvania, Sheridan's ten thousand horsemen rounded Lee's
right, cut the rails on either side of Beaver Dam Station,
destroyed this important depot on the Virginia Central Railroad,
and then made straight for Richmond. Stuart followed hard, made
an exhausting sweep round Sheridan's flank, and faced him on the
eleventh at Yellow Tavern, six miles north of Richmond. Here the
tired and outnumbered Confederates made a desperate attempt to
stem Sheridan's advance. But Stuart, the hero of his own men, and
the admiration of his generous foes, was mortally wounded; and
his thinner lines, overlapped and outweighed, gave ground and
drew off. Richmond had no garrison to resist a determined attack.
But Sheridan, knowing he could not hold it and having better work
to do, pushed on southeast to Haxall's Landing, where he could
draw much-needed supplies from Butler, just across the James.
With the enemy aggressive and alert all round him, he built a
bridge under fire across the Chickahominy, struck north for the
Army of the Potomac, and reported his return to Grant at
Chesterfield Station--halfway back to Spotsylvania--on his
seventeenth day out.

In the course of this great raid Sheridan had drawn off the
Confederate cavalry; fought four successful actions; released
hundreds of Union prisoners and taken as many himself; cut rails
and wires to such an extent that Lee could only communicate with
Richmond by messenger; destroyed enormous quantities of the most
vitally needed enemy stores, especially food and medical
supplies; and, by penetrating the outer defenses of Richmond,
raised Federal prestige to a higher plane at a most important

Meanwhile Sherman, whose own main body included a hundred
thousand men, had started from Chattanooga at the same time as
Grant from Culpeper Court House. In Grant's opinion "Johnston,
with Atlanta, was of less importance only because the capture of
Johnston and his army would not produce so immediate and decisive
a result in closing the rebellion as would the possession of
Richmond, Lee, and his army." Sherman's organization, supply and
transport, engineers, staff, and army generally were excellent.
So skillful, indeed, were his railway engineers that a disgusted
Confederate raider called out to a demolition party: "Better save
your powder, boys. What's the good of blowing up this one when
Sherman brings duplicate tunnels along?"

Sherman had double Johnston's numbers in the field. But Johnston,
as a supremely skillful Fabian, was a most worthy opponent for
this campaign, when the Confederate object was to gain time and
sicken the North of the war by falling back from one strongly
prepared position to another, inflicting as much loss as possible
on the attackers, and forcing them to stretch their line of
communication to the breaking point among a hostile population.
Two of Sherman's best divisions were still floundering about with
the rest of the Red River Expedition. So he had to modify his
original plan, which would have taken him much sooner to Atlanta
and given him the support of a simultaneous attack on Mobile by a
cooperating joint expedition. But he was ready to the minute, all
the same.

Dalton, Johnston's first stronghold, was cleverly turned by
McPherson's right flank march; where upon Johnston fell back on
Resaca. Here, on the upon the fifteenth of May, the armies fought
hard for some hours. But Sherman again outflanked the fortified
enemy, who retired to Kingston. Then, after Sherman had made a
four days' halt to accumulate supplies, the advance was resumed,
against determined opposition and with a good deal of hard
fighting for a week in the neighborhood of New Hope Church. The
result of the usual outflanking movements was that Johnston had
to evacuate Allatoona on the fourth of June. Sherman at once
turned it into his advanced field base; while Johnston fell back
on another strong and wellprepared position at Kenesaw Mountain.

Grant, favored in a general way by Sherman and in a special way
by Sheridan, had meanwhile enjoyed a third advantage, this time
on his own immediate front, through the sickness of Lee, who
could not take personal command during the last ten days of May.
On the twenty-first half of Grant's army marched south while half
stood threatening Lee, in order to give their friends a start
toward Richmond. This move was so well staffed and screened that
perhaps Lee could not have seen his chance quite soon enough in
any case. But when he did learn what had happened even his calm
self-control gave way to the exceeding bitter cry: "We must
strike them! We must never let them pass us again!" On the
thirtieth he was horrified at getting from Beauregard (who was
then between Richmond and Petersburg) a telegram which showed
that the Confederate Government was busy with the circumlocution
office in Richmond while the enemy was thundering at the gate.
"War Department must determine when and what troops to order from
here." Lee immediately answered: "If you cannot determine what
troops you can spare, the Department cannot. The result of your
delay will be disaster. Butler's troops will be with Grant
tomorrow." Lee also telegraphed direct to Davis for immediate
reinforcements, which arrived only just in time for the terrific
battle of Cold Harbor.

With these three advantages, in addition to the other odds in his
favor, Grant seemed to have found the tide of fortune at the
flood in the latter part of May. But he had many troubles of his
own. No sooner had half his army been badly defeated on the
eighteenth than news came that Sigel was in full retreat instead
of cutting off supplies from Lee. Then came news of Butler's
retreat from Drewry's Bluff, close in to Richmond. Nor was this
all; for it was only now that definite news of the Red River
Expedition arrived to confirm Grant's worst suspicions and ruin
his second plan of helping Farragut to take Mobile. But, as was
his wont, Grant at once took steps to meet the crisis. He ordered
Hunter to replace Sigel and go south--straight into the heart of
the Valley, asked the navy to move his own base down the
Rappahannock from Fredericksburg to Port Royal, and then himself
marched on toward Richmond, where Lee was desperately trying to
concentrate for battle.

The two armies were now drawing all available force together
round the strategic center of Cold Harbor, only nine miles east
of Richmond. On the thirty-first Sheridan drove out the enemy
detachments there, and was himself about to retire before much
superior reinforcements when he got Grant's order to hold his
ground at any cost. Nightfall prevented a general assault till
the next morning, when Sheridan managed to stand fast till
Wright's whole corps came up and the enemy at once desisted. But
elsewhere the Confederates did what they could to stave the
Federals off from advantageous ground on that day and the next.
The day after--the fateful third of June--the two sides closed in
death-grips at Cold Harbor.

On this, the thirtieth day of Grant's campaign of stern attrition
and would-be-smashing hammerstrokes at Lee, these were his orders
for attack: "The moment it becomes certain that an assault cannot
succeed, suspend the offensive. But when one does succeed, push
it vigorously, and, if necessary, pile in troops at the
successful point from wherever they can be taken." The trouble
was that Grant was two days late in carrying on the battle so
well begun by Sheridan, that Warren's corps was two miles off and
entirely disconnected, and that the three remaining corps formed
three parts and no whole when the stress of action came.

At dawn Meade's Army of the Potomac (less Warren's corps) began
to take post for the grand attack that some, more sanguine than
reflecting, hoped would win the war. When it was light the guns
burst out in furious defiance, each side's artillery trying to
beat the other's down before the crisis of the infantry assault.
There was no maneuvering. Each one of Meade's three corps-
-Hancock's, Wright's, and Smith's (brought over from Butler's
command)--marched straight to its front. This led them apart, on
diverging lines, and so exposed their flanks as well as their
fronts to enemy fire. But though each corps thought its neighbor
wrong to uncover its flanks, and the true cause was not
discovered till compass bearings were afterwards compared, yet
each went on undaunted, gaining momentum with every step, and
gathering itself together for the final charge.

Then, surging like great storm-blown waves, the blue lines broke
against Lee's iron front. In every gallant case there was the
same wild cresting of the wave, the same terrific crash, the same
adventurous tongues of blue that darted up as far as they could
go alive, the same anguishing recession from the fatal mark, and
the same agonizing wreckage left behind. In Hancock's corps the
crisis passed in just eight minutes. But in those eight dire
minutes eight colonels died while leading their regiments on to a
foredoomed defeat. One of these eight, James P. McMahon of New
York, alone among his dauntless fellows, actually reached the
Confederate lines, and, catching the colors from their stricken
bearer, waved them one moment above the parapet before he fell.

Flesh and blood could do no more. Under the withering fire and
crossfire of Lee's unshaken front the beaten corps went back,
re-formed, and waited. They had not long to wait; for Grant was
set on swinging his three hammers for three more blows at least.
So again the three assaults were separately made on the one
impregnable front; and again the waves receded, leaving a second
mass of agonizing wreckage with the first. Yet even this was not
enough for Grant, who once more renewed his orders. These orders
quickly ran their usual course, from the army to the different
corps, from each corps to its own divisions, and from divisions
to brigades. But not a single unit stirred. From the generals to
the "thinking bayonets" every soldier knew the limit had been
reached. Officially the order was obeyed by a front-line fire of
musketry, as well as by the staunch artillery, which again gave
its infantry the comfort of the guns. But that was all.

Thus ended the battle of Cold Harbor, the last pitched battle on
Virginian soil. Grant reported it in three short sentences; and
afterwards referred to it in these other three. "I have always
regretted that the last assault [i.e., the whole battle of the
third of June] was ever made. No advantage whatever was gained to
compensate for the heavy loss. Indeed, the advantages, other than
those of relative losses, were on the Confederate side." Even
these, however, were also on the Confederate side, as Grant lost
nearly thirteen thousand, while Lee lost less than eighteen
hundred. Cold Harbor undoubtedly lowered Union morale, both at
the front and all through the loyal North. It encouraged the
Peace Party, revived Confederate hopes, and shook the army's
faith in Grant's commandership. Martin McMahon, a Union general,
writing many years after the event, of which he was a most
competent witness, said: "It was the dreary, dismal, bloody,
ineffective close of the lieutenant-general's first campaign with
the Army of the Potomac."

Cold Harbor caused a change of plan. Reporting two days later
Grant said: "I now find, after thirty days of trial, the enemy
deems it of the first importance to run no risks with the armies
they now have. Without a greater sacrifice of human life than I
am willing to make all cannot be accomplished that I had designed
outside of the city [of Richmond]. I have therefore resolved upon
the following plan," which, in one word, involved a complete
change from a series of pitched battles to a long-drawn open

The battles lasted thirty days, the siege three hundred.
Therefore, from this time on for the next ten months, Lee had to
keep his living shield between Grant's main body and the last
great stronghold of the fighting South, while the rising tide of
Northern force, commanding all the sea and an ever-increasing
portion of the land, beat ceaselessly against his front and
flanks, threw out destroying arms against his ever-diminishing
sources of supply, and wore the starving shield itself down to
the very bone.

Grant's losses--forty thousand killed and wounded--were all made
good by immediate reinforcement; as was his other human wastage
from sickness, straggling, and desertion: made good, that is, in
the quantities required to wear out Lee, whose thinning ranks
could never be renewed; but not made good in quality; for many of
the best were dead. The wastage of material is hardly worth
considering on the Northern side; for it could always be made
good, superabundantly good. But the corresponding wastage on the
Southern side was unrenewed and unrenewable. Food, clothing,
munitions, medical stores--it was all the same for all the
Southern armies: desperate expedients, slow starvation, death.

Consternation reigned at Richmond on the twelfth of June, the day
the fitful firing ceased around Cold Harbor. There was danger in
the Valley, where Hunter had won success at Staunton, and where
Crook's and Averell's Union troops were expected to arrive from
West Virginia. Sheridan, too, was off on a twenty-day raid. He
cut the Virginia Central rails at Trevilian, did much other
damage between Richmond and the Valley, and, toward the end of
June, rejoined Grant, who had reached the James nearly a
fortnight before. Always trying to overlap Lee's extending right,
Grant closed in on Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac while
the Army of the James held fast against Richmond. This part of
the front then remained comparatively quiet till the end of July.

But the beleaguered Confederates made one last sortie out of the
Valley and straight against Washington. At the beginning of July
the Valley was uncovered owing to the roundabout flank march that
Hunter was forced to make back to his base for ammunition. The
enterprising Jubal Early took advantage of this with some veteran
troops and made straight for Washington. On the ninth Lew Wallace
succeeded in delaying him for one day at the Monocacy by an
admirably planned defense most gallantly carried out with greatly
inferior numbers and far less veteran men. This gave time for
reinforcements to pour into Washington; so that on the twelfth,
Early, finding the works alive with men, had to retreat even
faster than he came.

In the meantime Grant's extreme right wing was steadily pressing
the invasion of Georgia, where we left Sherman and Johnston face
to face at Kenesaw in June. Here again the beleaguered
Confederates had been making desperate raids or sorties, trying
to cut Sherman off from his base in Tennessee and keep back the
Federal forces in other parts of the river area. "Our Jack
Morgan," whom we left as a prisoner of war after his Ohio raid of
'63, had escaped in November, fought Crook and Averell for
Saltville and Wytheville in May, and then, leaving southwest
Virginia, had raided Kentucky and taken Lexington, but been
defeated at Cynthiana and driven back by overwhelming numbers
till he again entered southwest Virginia on the twentieth of
June. Forrest raided northeastern Mississippi, badly defeated
Sturgis at Brice's Cross Roads in June, but was himself defeated
by A.J. Smith at Tupelo in July.

Meanwhile Sherman had been tapping Johnston's fifty miles of
entrenchments for three weeks of rainy June weather, hoping to
find a suitable place into which he could drive a wedge of
attack. On the twenty-seventh he tried to carry the Kene saw
lines by assault, but failed at every point, with a loss of
twenty-five hundred--three times what Johnston lost.

By a well-combined series of maneuvers Sherman then forced
Johnston to fall back or be hopelessly outflanked. Johnston, with
equal skill, crossed the Chattahoochee under cover of the
strongly fortified bridgehead which he had built unknown to
Sherman. But Sherman, with his double numbers, could always hold
Johnston with one-half in front while turning his flank with the
other. So even the Chattahoochee was safely crossed on the
seventeenth of July and the final move against Atlanta was begun.
That same night Johnston's magnificent skill was thrown to the
winds by Davis, who had ordered the bold and skillful but far too
headlong John B. Hood to take command and "fight."

Five days later Hood fought the battle of Atlanta. Just as
Sherman was closing in to entrench for a siege Hood attacked his
extreme left flank with the utmost resolution, driving it in and
completely enveloping it. But Sherman was not to be caught.
Knowing that only a part of Hood's army could be sent to this
attack while the rest held the lines of Atlanta, Sherman left
McPherson's veteran Army of the Tennessee to do the actual
fighting, supported, of course, by the movement of troops on
their engaged right. McPherson was killed. Logan ably replaced
him and won a hard-fought day. Hood's loss was well over eight
thousand; Sherman's considerably less than half.

On the twenty-eighth Hood attacked the extreme right, now
commanded by General O.O. Howard in succession to McPherson,
whose Army of the Tennessee again did most distinguished service,
especially Logan's Fifteenth Corps near Ezra Church. The
Confederates were again defeated with the heavier loss. After
this the siege continued all through the month of August.

While Hood was trying to keep Sherman off Atlanta Grant was
trying to make a breach at Petersburg. Grant gave Meade "minute
orders on the 24th [of July] how I wanted the assault conducted,"
and Meade elaborated the actual plan with admirable skill except
in one particular that of the generals concerned. Burnside was
ordered to use his corps for the assault, and he chose Ledlie's
division to lead. The mine was on an enormous scale, designed to
hold eight tons of powder, though it was only charged with four,
and was approached by a gallery five hundred feet long. On the
twentyninth Grant brought every available man into proper support
of Burnside, whose other three divisions were to form the
immediate support of Ledlie's grand forlorn hope.

In the early morning of the thirtieth the mine blew up with an
earthquaking shock; the enemy round it ran helterskelter to the
rear; a crater like that of a volcano was formed; and a hundred
and sixty pieces of artillery opened a furious fire on every
square inch near it. Ledlie's division rushed forward and
occupied the crater. But there the whole maneuver stopped short;
for everything hinged on Ledlie's movements; and Ledlie was
hiding, well out of danger, instead of "carrying on." After a
pause Confederate reinforcements came up and drove the leaderless
division back. "The effort," said Grant, "was a stupendous
failure"; and it cost him nearly four thousand men, mostly

August was a sad month for the loyal North. It was then, as we
have seen, that Lincoln had to warn Grant about the way in which
his orders were being falsified in Washington. It was then that
Sherman asked for reinforcements, so as to be up to strength
before and after the taking of Atlanta. And it was then that
Halleck warned Grant to be ready to send some of his best men
north if there should be serious resistance to the draft. Nor was
this all. Thurlow Weed, the great election agent, told Lincoln
that the Government would be defeated; which meant, of course,
that the compromised and compromising Peace Party would probably
be at the helm in time to wreck the Union. With so many of the
best men dead or at the front the whole tone of political society
had been considerably lowered--to the corresponding advantage of
all those meaner elements that fish in troubled waters when the
dregs are well stirred up. There were sinister signs in the big
cities, in the press, and in financial circles. The Union dollar
once sank to thirty-nine cents. To make matters worse, there was
a good deal of well-founded discontent among the selfsacrificing
loyalists, both at the home and fighting fronts, because the
Government apparently allowed disloyal and evasive citizens to
live as parasites on the Union's body politic. The blood tax and
money tax alike fell far too heavily on the patriots; while many
a parasite grew rich in unshamed safety.

Mobile was won in August. But the people's eyes were mostly fixed
upon the land. So a much greater effect was produced by Sherman's
laconic dispatch of the second of September announcing the fall
of Atlanta. The Confederates, despairing of holding it to any
good purpose, had blown up everything they could not move and
then retreated. This thrilling news heartened the whole loyal
North, and, as Lincoln at once sent word to Sherman, "entitled
those who had participated to the applause and thanks of the
nation." Grant fired a salute of shotted guns from every battery
bearing on the enemy, who were correspondingly depressed. For
every one could now see that if the Union put forth its full
strength the shrunken forces of the South could not prevent the
Northern vice from crushing them to death.

September also saw the turning of the tide on the still more
conspicuous scene of action in Virginia. Grant had sent Sheridan
to the Valley, and had just completed a tour of personal
inspection there, when Sheridan, finding Early's Confederates
divided, swooped down on the exposed main body at Opequan Creek
and won a brilliant victory which raised the hopes of the loyal
North a good deal higher still.

Exactly a month later, on the nineteenth of October, Early made a
desperate attempt to turn the tables on the Federals in the
Valley by attacking them suddenly, on their exposed left flank,
while Sheridan was absent at Washington. (We must remember that
Grant had to concert action personally with his sub-commanders,
as his orders were so often "queered" when seen at Washington by
autocratic Stanton and bureaucratic Halleck.) The troops attacked
broke up and were driven in on their supports in wild confusion.
Then the supports gave way; and a Confederate victory seemed to
be assured.

But Sheridan was on his way. He had left the scene of his
previous victory at Opequan Creek, near Winchester, and was now
riding to the rescue of his army at Cedar Creek, twenty miles
south. "Sheridan's Ride," so widely known in song and story, was
enough to shake the nerves of any but a very fit commander. The
flotsam and jetsam of defeat swirled round him as he rode. Yet,
with unerring eye, he picked out the few that could influence the
rest and set them at work to rally, reform, and return. Inspired
by his example many a straggler who had run for miles presently
"found himself" again and got back in time to redeem his

Arriving on the field Sheridan discovered those two splendid
leaders, Custer and Getty, holding off the victorious
Confederates from what otherwise seemed an easy prey. His
presence encouraged the formed defense, restored confidence among
the rest near by, and stiffened resistance so much that hasty
entrenchments were successfully made and still more successfully
held. The first rush having been stopped, Sheridan turned the
lull that ensued into a triumphal progress by riding bareheaded
along his whole line, so that all his men might feel themselves
once more under his personal command. Cheer upon cheer greeted
him as his gallant charger carried him past; and when the
astonished enemy were themselves attacked they broke in
irretrievable defeat.

This crowning victory of the long-drawn Valley campaigns, coming
with cumulative force after those of Mobile, Atlanta, and Opequan
Creek, did more to turn the critical election than all the
speeches in the North. The fittest at the home front judged by
deeds, not words, agreeing therein with Rutherford B. Hayes (a
future President, now one of Sheridan's generals) who said: "Any
officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to
electioneer for a seat in Congress, ought to be scalped."

The devastation of everything in the Valley that might be useful
to Lee's army completed the Union victory in arms; while
Lincoln's own triumph in November completed it in politics and
raised his party to the highest plane of statesmanship in war.

From this time till the early spring the battle of the giants in
Virginia calmed down to the minor moves and clashes that mark a
period of winter quarters; while the scene of more stirring
action shifts once more to Georgia and Tennessee.


Sherman made Atlanta his field headquarters for September and
October, changing it entirely from a Southern city to a Northern
camp. The whole population was removed, every one being given the
choice of going north or south. In his own words, Sherman "had
seen Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and New Orleans, all captured
from the enemy, and each at once garrisoned by a full division,
if not more; so that success was actually crippling our armies in
the field by detachments to guard and protect the interests of a
hostile population." In reporting to Washington he said: "If the
people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will
answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking. If they want
peace, they and their relatives must stop the war." He also
excluded the swarms of demoralizing camp-followers that had
clogged him elsewhere. One licensed sutler was allowed for each
of his three armies, and no more. Atlanta thus became a perfect
Union stronghold fixed in the flank of the South.

The balance of losses in action, from May to September, was
heavily against the South: nearly nine to four. The actual
numbers did not greatly differ: thirty-two thousand Federals to
thirty-five thousand Confederates. (And in killed and wounded the
Federals lost many more than the Confederates. It was the
thirteen thousand captured Confederates that redressed the
balance.) But, since Sherman had twice as many in his total as
the Confederates had in theirs, the odds in relative loss were
nine to four in his favor. The balance of loss from disease was
also heavily against the Confedates, who as usual suffered from
dearth of medical stores. The losses in present and prospective
food supplies were even more in Sherman's favor; for his
devastations had begun. Yet Jefferson Davis was bound that Hood
should "fight"; and Hood was nothing loth.

Davis went about denouncing Johnston for his magnificent Fabian
defense; and added insult to injury by coupling the name of this
very able soldier and quite incorruptible man with that of Joseph
E. Brown, Governor of Georgia, who, though a violent
Secessionist, opposed all proper unification of effort, and
exempted eight thousand State employees from conscription as
civilian "indispensables." Then, when Sherman approached, Brown
ran away with all the food and furniture he could stuff into his
own special train; though he left behind him all arms,
ammunition, and other warlike stores, besides the confidential
documents belonging to the State.

Brown had also weakened Hood's army by withdrawing the State
troops to gather in the harvest and store it where Sherman
afterwards used what he wanted and destroyed the rest. Yet Hood
kept operating in Sherman's rear, admirably seconded by Forrest's
and Wheeler's raiding cavalry. Late in October Forrest performed
the remarkable feat of taking a flotilla with cavalry. He
suddenly swooped down on the Tennessee near Johnsonville and took
the gunboat Undine with a couple of transports. Hood had
meanwhile been busy on Sherman's line of communications, hoping
at least to immobilize him round Atlanta, and at best to bring
him back from Georgia for a Federal defeat in Tennessee.

On the fifth of October the last action near Atlanta was fought
thirty miles northwest, when Hood made a desperate attempt on
Allatoona with a greatly superior force. Twelve miles off, on
Kenesaw Mountain, Sherman could see the smoke and hear the sounds
of battle through the clear, still, autumn air. But as his
signalers could get no answer from the fort he began to fear that
Allatoona was already lost, when the signal officer's quick eye
caught the faintest flutter at one of the fort windows. Presently
the letters, C - R - S - E - H - E - R, were made out; which
meant that General John M. Corse, one of the best volunteers
produced by the war, was holding out. He had hurried over from
Rome, on a call from Allatoona, and was withstanding more than
four thousand men with less than two thousand. All morning long
the Confederates persisted in their attacks, while Sherman's
relief column was hurrying over from Kenesaw. Early in the
afternoon the fire slackened and ceased before this column
arrived. But Sherman's renewed fears were soon allayed. For
Corse, after losing more than a third of his men, had repulsed
the enemy alone, inflicting on them an even greater loss in
proportion to their double strength.

Corse was still full of fight, reporting back to Kenesaw that
though "short a cheek bone and an ear" he was "able to whip all
hell yet." Sherman thanked the brave defenders in his general
orders of the seventh for "the handsome defense made at
Allatoona" and pointed the moral that "garrisons must hold their
posts to the last minute, sure that the time gained is valuable
and necessary to their comrades at the front."

The situation at the beginning of November was most peculiar.
With the whole Gulf coast blockaded and the three great ports in
Union hands, with the Mississippi a Union stream from source to
sea, and with Sherman firmly set in the northwest flank of
Georgia, Hood made the last grand sortie from the beleaguered
South. It was a desperate adventure to go north against the
Federal troops in Tennessee, with Kentucky and the line of the
Ohio as his ultimate objective, when Lincoln had been returned to
power, when Grant was surely wearing down Lee in Virginia, and
when Sherman's preponderance of force was not only assured in
Georgia but in Tennessee as well. Moreover, Thomas, the "Rock of
Chickamauga," had been sent back to counter Hood from Grant's and
Sherman's old headquarters at Nashville on the Cumberland. And
Thomas was soon to have the usual double numbers; for all the
Western depots sent him their trained recruits, till, by the end
of November, his total was over seventy thousand. Hood's forty
thousand could not be increased or even stopped from dwindling.
Yet he pushed on, with the consent of Beauregard, who now held
the general command of all the troops opposed to Sherman.

The next moves were even more peculiar than the first. For while
Hood hoped to close the breach in Georgia by drawing Sherman
back, and Sherman expected that when he went on to widen the
breach he would draw Hood back, what really happened was that
each advanced on his own new line in opposite directions, Hood
north through Tennessee, Sherman southeast through Georgia. So
firm was the grip of the Union on all the navigable waters that
Hood could only cross the Tennessee somewhere along the shoals.
He chose a place near Florence, Alabama, got safely over and
encamped. There, for the moment, we shall leave him and follow
Sherman to the sea.

The region of the Gulf and lower Mississippi being now under the
assured predominance of Union forces, Grant, with equal wisdom
and decision, entirely approved of Sherman's plan to cut loose
from his western base, make a devastating march through the heart
of fertile Georgia, and join the eastern forces of the North at
Savannah, where Fort Pulaski was in Union hands and the Union
navy was, as usual, overwhelmingly strong.

Sherman's March to the Sea at once acquired a popular renown
which it has never lost. This, however, was chiefly because it
happened to catch the public eye while nothing else was on the
stage. For its many admirable features were those about which
most people know little and care less: well-combined grand
strategy, perfection in headquarter orders and the incidental
staff work, excellent march discipline, wonderful coordination
between the different arms of the Service and with all auxiliary
branches--especially the commissariat and transport, and, to
clinch everything, a thoroughness of execution which
distinguished each unit concerned. As a feat of arms this famous


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