Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant [Volume Two]
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 2 out of 9

before the attack. They then disappeared behind foot hills, and
did not come to the view of the troops on Missionary Ridge until
they met their assault. Bragg knew it was Sherman's troops that
had crossed, and, they being so long out of view, may have
supposed that they had gone up the north bank of the Tennessee
River to the relief of Knoxville and that Longstreet was
therefore in danger. But the first great blunder, detaching
Longstreet, cannot be accounted for in any way I know of. If he
had captured Chattanooga, East Tennessee would have fallen
without a struggle. It would have been a victory for us to have
got our army away from Chattanooga safely. It was a manifold
greater victory to drive away the besieging army; a still
greater one to defeat that army in his chosen ground and nearly
annihilate it.

The probabilities are that our loss in killed was the heavier,
as we were the attacking party. The enemy reported his loss in
killed at 361: but as he reported his missing at 4,146, while
we held over 6,000 of them as prisoners, and there must have
been hundreds if not thousands who deserted, but little reliance
can be placed on this report. There was certainly great
dissatisfaction with Bragg on the part of the soldiers for his
harsh treatment of them, and a disposition to get away if they
could. Then, too, Chattanooga, following in the same half year
with Gettysburg in the East and Vicksburg in the West, there was
much the same feeling in the South at this time that there had
been in the North the fall and winter before. If the same
license had been allowed the people and press in the South that
was allowed in the North, Chattanooga would probably have been
the last battle fought for the preservation of the Union.

General William F. Smith's services in these battles had been
such that I thought him eminently entitled to promotion. I was
aware that he had previously been named by the President for
promotion to the grade of major-general, but that the Senate had
rejected the nomination. I was not aware of the reasons for this
course, and therefore strongly recommended him for a
major-generalcy. My recommendation was heeded and the
appointment made.

Upon the raising of the siege of Knoxville I, of course,
informed the authorities at Washington--the President and
Secretary of War--of the fact, which caused great rejoicing
there. The President especially was rejoiced that Knoxville had
been relieved (*18) without further bloodshed. The safety of
Burnside's army and the loyal people of East Tennessee had been
the subject of much anxiety to the President for several months,
during which time he was doing all he could to relieve the
situation; sending a new commander (*19) with a few thousand
troops by the way of Cumberland Gap, and telegraphing me daily,
almost hourly, to "remember Burnside," "do something for
Burnside," and other appeals of like tenor. He saw no escape
for East Tennessee until after our victory at Chattanooga. Even
then he was afraid that Burnside might be out of ammunition, in
a starving condition, or overpowered: and his anxiety was still
intense until he heard that Longstreet had been driven from the

Burnside followed Longstreet only to Strawberry Plains, some
twenty miles or more east, and then stopped, believing that
Longstreet would leave the State. The latter did not do so,
however, but stopped only a short distance farther on and
subsisted his army for the entire winter off East Tennessee.
Foster now relieved Burnside. Sherman made disposition of his
troops along the Tennessee River in accordance with
instructions. I left Thomas in command at Chattanooga, and,
about the 20th of December, moved my headquarters to Nashville,

Nashville was the most central point from which to communicate
with my entire military division, and also with the authorities
at Washington. While remaining at Chattanooga I was liable to
have my telegraphic communications cut so as to throw me out of
communication with both my command and Washington.

Nothing occurred at Nashville worthy of mention during the
winter, (*20) so I set myself to the task of having troops in
positions from which they could move to advantage, and in
collecting all necessary supplies so as to be ready to claim a
due share of the enemy's attention upon the appearance of the
first good weather in the spring. I expected to retain the
command I then had, and prepared myself for the campaign against
Atlanta. I also had great hopes of having a campaign made against
Mobile from the Gulf. I expected after Atlanta fell to occupy
that place permanently, and to cut off Lee's army from the West
by way of the road running through Augusta to Atlanta and thence
south-west. I was preparing to hold Atlanta with a small
garrison, and it was my expectation to push through to Mobile if
that city was in our possession: if not, to Savannah; and in
this manner to get possession of the only east and west railroad
that would then be left to the enemy. But the spring campaign
against Mobile was not made.

The Army of the Ohio had been getting supplies over Cumberland
Gap until their animals had nearly all starved. I now
determined to go myself to see if there was any possible chance
of using that route in the spring, and if not to abandon it.
Accordingly I left Nashville in the latter part of December by
rail for Chattanooga. From Chattanooga I took one of the little
steamers previously spoken of as having been built there, and,
putting my horses aboard, went up to the junction of the Clinch
with the Tennessee. From that point the railroad had been
repaired up to Knoxville and out east to Strawberry Plains. I
went by rail therefore to Knoxville, where I remained for
several days. General John G. Foster was then commanding the
Department of the Ohio. It was an intensely cold winter, the
thermometer being down as low as zero every morning for more
than a week while I was at Knoxville and on my way from there on
horseback to Lexington, Kentucky, the first point where I could
reach rail to carry me back to my headquarters at Nashville.

The road over Cumberland Gap, and back of it, was strewn with
debris of broken wagons and dead animals, much as I had found it
on my first trip to Chattanooga over Waldron's Ridge. The road
had been cut up to as great a depth as clay could be by mules
and wagons, and in that condition frozen; so that the ride of
six days from Strawberry Plains to Lexington over these holes
and knobs in the road was a very cheerless one, and very

I found a great many people at home along that route, both in
Tennessee and Kentucky, and, almost universally, intensely
loyal. They would collect in little places where we would stop
of evenings, to see me, generally hearing of my approach before
we arrived. The people naturally expected to see the commanding
general the oldest person in the party. I was then forty-one
years of age, while my medical director was gray-haired and
probably twelve or more years my senior. The crowds would
generally swarm around him, and thus give me an opportunity of
quietly dismounting and getting into the house. It also gave me
an opportunity of hearing passing remarks from one spectator to
another about their general. Those remarks were apt to be more
complimentary to the cause than to the appearance of the
supposed general, owing to his being muffled up, and also owing
to the travel-worn condition we were all in after a hard day's
ride. I was back in Nashville by the 13th of January, 1864.

When I started on this trip it was necessary for me to have some
person along who could turn dispatches into cipher, and who could
also read the cipher dispatches which I was liable to receive
daily and almost hourly. Under the rules of the War Department
at that time, Mr. Stanton had taken entire control of the matter
of regulating the telegraph and determining how it should be
used, and of saying who, and who alone, should have the
ciphers. The operators possessed of the ciphers, as well as the
ciphers used, were practically independent of the commanders whom
they were serving immediately under, and had to report to the War
Department through General Stager all the dispatches which they
received or forwarded.

I was obliged to leave the telegraphic operator back at
Nashville, because that was the point at which all dispatches to
me would come, to be forwarded from there. As I have said, it
was necessary for me also to have an operator during this
inspection who had possession of this cipher to enable me to
telegraph to my division and to the War Department without my
dispatches being read by all the operators along the line of
wires over which they were transmitted. Accordingly I ordered
the cipher operator to turn over the key to Captain Cyrus B.
Comstock, of the Corps of Engineers, whom I had selected as a
wise and discreet man who certainly could be trusted with the
cipher if the operator at my headquarters could.

The operator refused point blank to turn over the key to Captain
Comstock as directed by me, stating that his orders from the War
Department were not to give it to anybody--the commanding
general or any one else. I told him I would see whether he
would or not. He said that if he did he would be punished. I
told him if he did not he most certainly would be punished.
Finally, seeing that punishment was certain if he refused longer
to obey my order, and being somewhat remote (even if he was not
protected altogether from the consequences of his disobedience
to his orders) from the War Department, he yielded. When I
returned from Knoxville I found quite a commotion. The operator
had been reprimanded very severely and ordered to be relieved. I
informed the Secretary of War, or his assistant secretary in
charge of the telegraph, Stager, that the man could not be
relieved, for he had only obeyed my orders. It was absolutely
necessary for me to have the cipher, and the man would most
certainly have been punished if he had not delivered it; that
they would have to punish me if they punished anybody, or words
to that effect.

This was about the only thing approaching a disagreeable
difference between the Secretary of War and myself that occurred
until the war was over, when we had another little spat. Owing
to his natural disposition to assume all power and control in
all matters that he had anything whatever to do with, he boldly
took command of the armies, and, while issuing no orders on the
subject, prohibited any order from me going out of the
adjutant-general's office until he had approved it. This was
done by directing the adjutant-general to hold any orders that
came from me to be issued from the adjutant-general's office
until he had examined them and given his approval. He never
disturbed himself, either, in examining my orders until it was
entirely convenient for him; so that orders which I had prepared
would often lie there three or four days before he would sanction
them. I remonstrated against this in writing, and the Secretary
apologetically restored me to my rightful position of
General-in-Chief of the Army. But he soon lapsed again and took
control much as before.

After the relief of Knoxville Sherman had proposed to Burnside
that he should go with him to drive Longstreet out of Tennessee;
but Burnside assured him that with the troops which had been
brought by Granger, and which were to be left, he would be amply
prepared to dispose of Longstreet without availing himself of
this offer. As before stated Sherman's command had left their
camps north of the Tennessee, near Chattanooga, with two days'
rations in their haversacks, without coats or blankets, and
without many wagons, expecting to return to their camps by the
end of that time. The weather was now cold and they were
suffering, but still they were ready to make the further
sacrifice, had it been required, for the good of the cause which
had brought them into service. Sherman, having accomplished the
object for which he was sent, marched back leisurely to his old
camp on the Tennessee River.



Soon after his return from Knoxville I ordered Sherman to
distribute his forces from Stevenson to Decatur and thence north
to Nashville; Sherman suggested that he be permitted to go back
to Mississippi, to the limits of his own department and where
most of his army still remained, for the purpose of clearing out
what Confederates might still be left on the east bank of the
Mississippi River to impede its navigation by our boats. He
expected also to have the co-operation of Banks to do the same
thing on the west shore. Of course I approved heartily.

About the 10th of January Sherman was back in Memphis, where
Hurlbut commanded, and got together his Memphis men, or ordered
them collected and sent to Vicksburg. He then went to Vicksburg
and out to where McPherson was in command, and had him organize
his surplus troops so as to give him about 20,000 men in all.

Sherman knew that General (Bishop) Polk was occupying Meridian
with his headquarters, and had two divisions of infantry with a
considerable force of cavalry scattered west of him. He
determined, therefore, to move directly upon Meridian.

I had sent some 2,500 cavalry under General Sooy Smith to
Sherman's department, and they had mostly arrived before Sherman
got to Memphis. Hurlbut had 7,000 cavalry, and Sherman ordered
him to reinforce Smith so as to give the latter a force of about
7,000 with which to go against Forrest, who was then known to be
south-east from Memphis. Smith was ordered to move about the
1st of February.

While Sherman was waiting at Vicksburg for the arrival of
Hurlbut with his surplus men, he sent out scouts to ascertain
the position and strength of the enemy and to bring back all the
information they could gather. When these scouts returned it was
through them that he got the information of General Polk's being
at Meridian, and of the strength and disposition of his command.

Forrest had about 4,000 cavalry with him, composed of thoroughly
well-disciplined men, who under so able a leader were very
effective. Smith's command was nearly double that of Forrest,
but not equal, man to man, for the lack of a successful
experience such as Forrest's men had had. The fact is, troops
who have fought a few battles and won, and followed up their
victories, improve upon what they were before to an extent that
can hardly be counted by percentage. The difference in result
is often decisive victory instead of inglorious defeat. This
same difference, too, is often due to the way troops are
officered, and for the particular kind of warfare which Forrest
had carried on neither army could present a more effective
officer than he was.

Sherman got off on the 3d of February and moved out on his
expedition, meeting with no opposition whatever until he crossed
the Big Black, and with no great deal of opposition after that
until he reached Jackson, Mississippi. This latter place he
reached on the 6th or 7th, Brandon on the 8th, and Morton on the
9th. Up to this time he moved in two columns to enable him to
get a good supply of forage, etc., and expedite the march. Here,
however, there were indications of the concentration of
Confederate infantry, and he was obliged to keep his army close
together. He had no serious engagement; but he met some of the
enemy who destroyed a few of his wagons about Decatur,
Mississippi, where, by the way, Sherman himself came near being
picked up.

He entered Meridian on the 14th of the month, the enemy having
retreated toward Demopolis, Alabama. He spent several days in
Meridian in thoroughly destroying the railroad to the north and
south, and also for the purpose of hearing from Sooy Smith, who
he supposed had met Forrest before this time and he hoped had
gained a decisive victory because of a superiority of numbers.
Hearing nothing of him, however, he started on his return trip
to Vicksburg. There he learned that Smith, while waiting for a
few of his men who had been ice-bound in the Ohio River, instead
of getting off on the 1st as expected, had not left until the
11th. Smith did meet Forrest, but the result was decidedly in
Forrest's favor.

Sherman had written a letter to Banks, proposing a co-operative
movement with him against Shreveport, subject to my approval. I
disapproved of Sherman's going himself, because I had other
important work for him to do, but consented that he might send a
few troops to the aid of Banks, though their time to remain
absent must be limited. We must have them for the spring
campaign. The trans-Mississippi movement proved abortive.

My eldest son, who had accompanied me on the Vicksburg campaign
and siege, had while there contracted disease, which grew worse,
until he had grown so dangerously ill that on the 24th of January
I obtained permission to go to St. Louis, where he was staying at
the time, to see him, hardly expecting to find him alive on my
arrival. While I was permitted to go, I was not permitted to
turn over my command to any one else, but was directed to keep
the headquarters with me and to communicate regularly with all
parts of my division and with Washington, just as though I had
remained at Nashville.

When I obtained this leave I was at Chattanooga, having gone
there again to make preparations to have the troops of Thomas in
the southern part of Tennessee co-operate with Sherman's movement
in Mississippi. I directed Thomas, and Logan who was at
Scottsboro, Alabama, to keep up a threatening movement to the
south against J. E. Johnston, who had again relieved Bragg, for
the purpose of making him keep as many troops as possible there.

I learned through Confederate sources that Johnston had already
sent two divisions in the direction of Mobile, presumably to
operate against Sherman, and two more divisions to Longstreet in
East Tennessee. Seeing that Johnston had depleted in this way, I
directed Thomas to send at least ten thousand men, besides
Stanley's division which was already to the east, into East
Tennessee, and notified Schofield, who was now in command in
East Tennessee, of this movement of troops into his department
and also of the reinforcements Longstreet had received. My
object was to drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee as a part
of the preparations for my spring campaign.

About this time General Foster, who had been in command of the
Department of the Ohio after Burnside until Schofield relieved
him (*21), advised me that he thought it would be a good thing
to keep Longstreet just where he was; that he was perfectly
quiet in East Tennessee, and if he was forced to leave there,
his whole well-equipped army would be free to go to any place
where it could effect the most for their cause. I thought the
advice was good, and, adopting that view, countermanded the
orders for pursuit of Longstreet.

On the 12th of February I ordered Thomas to take Dalton and hold
it, if possible; and I directed him to move without delay.
Finding that he had not moved, on the 17th I urged him again to
start, telling him how important it was, that the object of the
movement was to co-operate with Sherman, who was moving eastward
and might be in danger. Then again on the 21st, he not yet
having started, I asked him if he could not start the next
day. He finally got off on the 22d or 23d. The enemy fell back
from his front without a battle, but took a new position quite as
strong and farther to the rear. Thomas reported that he could
not go any farther, because it was impossible with his poor
teams, nearly starved, to keep up supplies until the railroads
were repaired. He soon fell back.

Schofield also had to return for the same reason. He could not
carry supplies with him, and Longstreet was between him and the
supplies still left in the country. Longstreet, in his retreat,
would be moving towards his supplies, while our forces,
following, would be receding from theirs. On the 2d of March,
however, I learned of Sherman's success, which eased my mind
very much. The next day, the 3d, I was ordered to Washington.

The bill restoring the grade of lieutenant-general of the army
had passed through Congress and became a law on the 26th of
February. My nomination had been sent to the Senate on the 1st
of March and confirmed the next day (the 2d). I was ordered to
Washington on the 3d to receive my commission, and started the
day following that. The commission was handed to me on the
9th. It was delivered to me at the Executive Mansion by
President Lincoln in the presence of his Cabinet, my eldest son,
those of my staff who were with me and and a few other visitors.

The President in presenting my commission read from a
paper--stating, however, as a preliminary, and prior to the
delivery of it, that he had drawn that up on paper, knowing my
disinclination to speak in public, and handed me a copy in
advance so that I might prepare a few lines of reply. The
President said:

"General Grant, the nation's appreciation of what you have done,
and its reliance upon you for what remains to be done in the
existing great struggle, are now presented, with this commission
constituting you lieutenant-general in the Army of the United
States. With this high honor, devolves upon you, also, a
corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you,
so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add,
that, with what I here speak for the nation, goes my own hearty
personal concurrence."

To this I replied: "Mr. President, I accept the commission,
with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of
the noble armies that have fought in so many fields for our
common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint
your expectations. I feel the full weight of the
responsibilities now devolving on me; and I know that if they
are met, it will be due to those armies, and above all, to the
favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men."

On the 10th I visited the headquarters of the Army of the
Potomac at Brandy Station; then returned to Washington, and
pushed west at once to make my arrangements for turning over the
commands there and giving general directions for the preparations
to be made for the spring campaign.

It had been my intention before this to remain in the West, even
if I was made lieutenant-general; but when I got to Washington
and saw the situation it was plain that here was the point for
the commanding general to be. No one else could, probably,
resist the pressure that would be brought to bear upon him to
desist from his own plans and pursue others. I determined,
therefore, before I started back to have Sherman advanced to my
late position, McPherson to Sherman's in command of the
department, and Logan to the command of McPherson's corps. These
changes were all made on my recommendation and without
hesitation. My commission as lieutenant-general was given to me
on the 9th of March, 1864. On the following day, as already
stated, I visited General Meade, commanding the Army of the
Potomac, at his headquarters at Brandy Station, north of the
Rapidan. I had known General Meade slightly in the Mexican war,
but had not met him since until this visit. I was a stranger to
most of the Army of the Potomac, I might say to all except the
officers of the regular army who had served in the Mexican
war. There had been some changes ordered in the organization of
that army before my promotion. One was the consolidation of five
corps into three, thus throwing some officers of rank out of
important commands. Meade evidently thought that I might want
to make still one more change not yet ordered. He said to me
that I might want an officer who had served with me in the West,
mentioning Sherman specially, to take his place. If so, he
begged me not to hesitate about making the change. He urged
that the work before us was of such vast importance to the whole
nation that the feeling or wishes of no one person should stand
in the way of selecting the right men for all positions. For
himself, he would serve to the best of his ability wherever
placed. I assured him that I had no thought of substituting any
one for him. As to Sherman, he could not be spared from the

This incident gave me even a more favorable opinion of Meade
than did his great victory at Gettysburg the July before. It is
men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we
may always expect the most efficient service.

Meade's position afterwards proved embarrassing to me if not to
him. He was commanding an army and, for nearly a year previous
to my taking command of all the armies, was in supreme command
of the Army of the Potomac--except from the authorities at
Washington. All other general officers occupying similar
positions were independent in their commands so far as any one
present with them was concerned. I tried to make General
Meade's position as nearly as possible what it would have been
if I had been in Washington or any other place away from his
command. I therefore gave all orders for the movements of the
Army of the Potomac to Meade to have them executed. To avoid
the necessity of having to give orders direct, I established my
headquarters near his, unless there were reasons for locating
them elsewhere. This sometimes happened, and I had on occasions
to give orders direct to the troops affected. On the 11th I
returned to Washington and, on the day after, orders were
published by the War Department placing me in command of all the
armies. I had left Washington the night before to return to my
old command in the West and to meet Sherman whom I had
telegraphed to join me in Nashville.

Sherman assumed command of the military division of the
Mississippi on the 18th of March, and we left Nashville together
for Cincinnati. I had Sherman accompany me that far on my way
back to Washington so that we could talk over the matters about
which I wanted to see him, without losing any more time from my
new command than was necessary. The first point which I wished
to discuss was particularly about the co-operation of his
command with mine when the spring campaign should commence.
There were also other and minor points, minor as compared with
the great importance of the question to be decided by sanguinary
war--the restoration to duty of officers who had been relieved
from important commands, namely McClellan, Burnside and Fremont
in the East, and Buell, McCook, Negley and Crittenden in the

Some time in the winter of 1863-64 I had been invited by the
general-in-chief to give my views of the campaign I thought
advisable for the command under me--now Sherman's. General J.
E. Johnston was defending Atlanta and the interior of Georgia
with an army, the largest part of which was stationed at Dalton,
about 38 miles south of Chattanooga. Dalton is at the junction of
the railroad from Cleveland with the one from Chattanooga to

There could have been no difference of opinion as to the first
duty of the armies of the military division of the
Mississippi. Johnston's army was the first objective, and that
important railroad centre, Atlanta, the second. At the time I
wrote General Halleck giving my views of the approaching
campaign, and at the time I met General Sherman, it was expected
that General Banks would be through with the campaign which he
had been ordered upon before my appointment to the command of
all the armies, and would be ready to co-operate with the armies
east of the Mississippi, his part in the programme being to move
upon Mobile by land while the navy would close the harbor and
assist to the best of its ability. (*22) The plan therefore was
for Sherman to attack Johnston and destroy his army if possible,
to capture Atlanta and hold it, and with his troops and those of
Banks to hold a line through to Mobile, or at least to hold
Atlanta and command the railroad running east and west, and the
troops from one or other of the armies to hold important points
on the southern road, the only east and west road that would be
left in the possession of the enemy. This would cut the
Confederacy in two again, as our gaining possession of the
Mississippi River had done before. Banks was not ready in time
for the part assigned to him, and circumstances that could not
be foreseen determined the campaign which was afterwards made,
the success and grandeur of which has resounded throughout all

In regard to restoring officers who had been relieved from
important commands to duty again, I left Sherman to look after
those who had been removed in the West while I looked out for
the rest. I directed, however, that he should make no
assignment until I could speak to the Secretary of War about the
matter. I shortly after recommended to the Secretary the
assignment of General Buell to duty. I received the assurance
that duty would be offered to him; and afterwards the Secretary
told me that he had offered Buell an assignment and that the
latter had declined it, saying that it would be degradation to
accept the assignment offered. I understood afterwards that he
refused to serve under either Sherman or Canby because he had
ranked them both. Both graduated before him and ranked him in
the old army. Sherman ranked him as a brigadier-general. All
of them ranked me in the old army, and Sherman and Buell did as
brigadiers. The worst excuse a soldier can make for declining
service is that he once ranked the commander he is ordered to
report to.

On the 23d of March I was back in Washington, and on the 26th
took up my headquarters at Culpeper Court-House, a few miles
south of the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac.

Although hailing from Illinois myself, the State of the
President, I never met Mr. Lincoln until called to the capital
to receive my commission as lieutenant-general. I knew him,
however, very well and favorably from the accounts given by
officers under me at the West who had known him all their
lives. I had also read the remarkable series of debates between
Lincoln and Douglas a few years before, when they were rival
candidates for the United States Senate. I was then a resident
of Missouri, and by no means a "Lincoln man" in that contest;
but I recognized then his great ability.

In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone he stated to me
that he had never professed to be a military man or to know how
campaigns should be conducted, and never wanted to interfere in
them: but that procrastination on the part of commanders, and
the pressure from the people at the North and Congress, WHICH
WAS ALWAYS WITH HIM, forced him into issuing his series of
"Military Orders"--one, two, three, etc. He did not know but
they were all wrong, and did know that some of them were. All
he wanted or had ever wanted was some one who would take the
responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance
needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government
in rendering such assistance. Assuring him that I would do the
best I could with the means at hand, and avoid as far as
possible annoying him or the War Department, our first interview

The Secretary of War I had met once before only, but felt that I
knew him better.

While commanding in West Tennessee we had occasionally held
conversations over the wires, at night, when they were not being
otherwise used. He and General Halleck both cautioned me against
giving the President my plans of campaign, saying that he was so
kind-hearted, so averse to refusing anything asked of him, that
some friend would be sure to get from him all he knew. I should
have said that in our interview the President told me he did not
want to know what I proposed to do. But he submitted a plan of
campaign of his own which he wanted me to hear and then do as I
pleased about. He brought out a map of Virginia on which he had
evidently marked every position occupied by the Federal and
Confederate armies up to that time. He pointed out on the map
two streams which empty into the Potomac, and suggested that the
army might be moved on boats and landed between the mouths of
these streams. We would then have the Potomac to bring our
supplies, and the tributaries would protect our flanks while we
moved out. I listened respectfully, but did not suggest that
the same streams would protect Lee's flanks while he was
shutting us up.

I did not communicate my plans to the President, nor did I to
the Secretary of War or to General Halleck.

March the 26th my headquarters were, as stated, at Culpeper, and
the work of preparing for an early campaign commenced.



When I assumed command of all the armies the situation was about
this: the Mississippi River was guarded from St. Louis to its
mouth; the line of the Arkansas was held, thus giving us all the
North-west north of that river. A few points in Louisiana not
remote from the river were held by the Federal troops, as was
also the mouth of the Rio Grande. East of the Mississippi we
held substantially all north of the Memphis and Charleston
Railroad as far east as Chattanooga, thence along the line of
the Tennessee and Holston rivers, taking in nearly all of the
State of Tennessee. West Virginia was in our hands; and that
part of old Virginia north of the Rapidan and east of the Blue
Ridge we also held. On the sea-coast we had Fortress Monroe and
Norfolk in Virginia; Plymouth, Washington and New Berne in North
Carolina; Beaufort, Folly and Morris islands, Hilton Head, Port
Royal and Fort Pulaski in South Carolina and Georgia;
Fernandina, St. Augustine, Key West and Pensacola in Florida.
The balance of the Southern territory, an empire in extent, was
still in the hands of the enemy.

Sherman, who had succeeded me in the command of the military
division of the Mississippi, commanded all the troops in the
territory west of the Alleghanies and north of Natchez, with a
large movable force about Chattanooga. His command was
subdivided into four departments, but the commanders all
reported to Sherman and were subject to his orders. This
arrangement, however, insured the better protection of all lines
of communication through the acquired territory, for the reason
that these different department commanders could act promptly in
case of a sudden or unexpected raid within their respective
jurisdictions without awaiting the orders of the division

In the East the opposing forces stood in substantially the same
relations towards each other as three years before, or when the
war began; they were both between the Federal and Confederate
capitals. It is true, footholds had been secured by us on the
sea-coast, in Virginia and North Carolina, but, beyond that, no
substantial advantage had been gained by either side. Battles
had been fought of as great severity as had ever been known in
war, over ground from the James River and Chickahominy, near
Richmond, to Gettysburg and Chambersburg, in Pennsylvania, with
indecisive results, sometimes favorable to the National army,
sometimes to the Confederate army; but in every instance, I
believe, claimed as victories for the South by the Southern
press if not by the Southern generals. The Northern press, as a
whole, did not discourage these claims; a portion of it always
magnified rebel success and belittled ours, while another
portion, most sincerely earnest in their desire for the
preservation of the Union and the overwhelming success of the
Federal armies, would nevertheless generally express
dissatisfaction with whatever victories were gained because they
were not more complete.

That portion of the Army of the Potomac not engaged in guarding
lines of communication was on the northern bank of the
Rapidan. The Army of Northern Virginia confronting it on the
opposite bank of the same river, was strongly intrenched and
commanded by the acknowledged ablest general in the Confederate
army. The country back to the James River is cut up with many
streams, generally narrow, deep, and difficult to cross except
where bridged. The region is heavily timbered, and the roads
narrow, and very bad after the least rain. Such an enemy was
not, of course, unprepared with adequate fortifications at
convenient intervals all the way back to Richmond, so that when
driven from one fortified position they would always have
another farther to the rear to fall back into.

To provision an army, campaigning against so formidable a foe
through such a country, from wagons alone seemed almost
impossible. System and discipline were both essential to its

The Union armies were now divided into nineteen departments,
though four of them in the West had been concentrated into a
single military division. The Army of the Potomac was a
separate command and had no territorial limits. There were thus
seventeen distinct commanders. Before this time these various
armies had acted separately and independently of each other,
giving the enemy an opportunity often of depleting one command,
not pressed, to reinforce another more actively engaged. I
determined to stop this. To this end I regarded the Army of the
Potomac as the centre, and all west to Memphis along the line
described as our position at the time, and north of it, the
right wing; the Army of the James, under General Butler, as the
left wing, and all the troops south, as a force in rear of the
enemy. Some of these latter were occupying positions from which
they could not render service proportionate to their numerical
strength. All such were depleted to the minimum necessary to
hold their positions as a guard against blockade runners; where
they could not do this their positions were abandoned
altogether. In this way ten thousand men were added to the Army
of the James from South Carolina alone, with General Gillmore in
command. It was not contemplated that General Gillmore should
leave his department; but as most of his troops were taken,
presumably for active service, he asked to accompany them and
was permitted to do so. Officers and soldiers on furlough, of
whom there were many thousands, were ordered to their proper
commands; concentration was the order of the day, and to have it
accomplished in time to advance at the earliest moment the roads
would permit was the problem.

As a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or to act in
support of it, the 9th army corps, over twenty thousand strong,
under General Burnside, had been rendezvoused at Annapolis,
Maryland. This was an admirable position for such a
reinforcement. The corps could be brought at the last moment as
a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or it could be thrown
on the sea-coast, south of Norfolk, in Virginia or North
Carolina, to operate against Richmond from that direction. In
fact Burnside and the War Department both thought the 9th corps
was intended for such an expedition up to the last moment.

My general plan now was to concentrate all the force possible
against the Confederate armies in the field. There were but two
such, as we have seen, east of the Mississippi River and facing
north. The Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee
commanding, was on the south bank of the Rapidan, confronting
the Army of the Potomac; the second, under General Joseph E.
Johnston, was at Dalton, Georgia, opposed to Sherman who was
still at Chattanooga. Beside these main armies the Confederates
had to guard the Shenandoah Valley, a great storehouse to feed
their armies from, and their line of communications from
Richmond to Tennessee. Forrest, a brave and intrepid cavalry
general, was in the West with a large force; making a larger
command necessary to hold what we had gained in Middle and West
Tennessee. We could not abandon any territory north of the line
held by the enemy because it would lay the Northern States open
to invasion. But as the Army of the Potomac was the principal
garrison for the protection of Washington even while it was
moving on Lee, so all the forces to the west, and the Army of
the James, guarded their special trusts when advancing from them
as well as when remaining at them. Better indeed, for they
forced the enemy to guard his own lines and resources at a
greater distance from ours, and with a greater force. Little
expeditions could not so well be sent out to destroy a bridge or
tear up a few miles of railroad track, burn a storehouse, or
inflict other little annoyances. Accordingly I arranged for a
simultaneous movement all along the line. Sherman was to move
from Chattanooga, Johnston's army and Atlanta being his
objective points. (*23) Crook, commanding in West Virginia, was
to move from the mouth of the Gauley River with a cavalry force
and some artillery, the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to be
his objective. Either the enemy would have to keep a large
force to protect their communications, or see them destroyed and
a large amount of forage and provision, which they so much
needed, fall into our hands. Sigel was in command in the Valley
of Virginia. He was to advance up the valley, covering the North
from an invasion through that channel as well while advancing as
by remaining near Harper's Ferry. Every mile he advanced also
gave us possession of stores on which Lee relied. Butler was to
advance by the James River, having Richmond and Petersburg as his

Before the advance commenced I visited Butler at Fort Monroe.
This was the first time I had ever met him. Before giving him
any order as to the part he was to play in the approaching
campaign I invited his views. They were very much such as I
intended to direct, and as I did direct (*24), in writing,
before leaving.

General W. F. Smith, who had been promoted to the rank of
major-general shortly after the battle of Chattanooga on my
recommendation, had not yet been confirmed. I found a decided
prejudice against his confirmation by a majority of the Senate,
but I insisted that his services had been such that he should be
rewarded. My wishes were now reluctantly complied with, and I
assigned him to the command of one of the corps under General
Butler. I was not long in finding out that the objections to
Smith's promotion were well founded.

In one of my early interviews with the President I expressed my
dissatisfaction with the little that had been accomplished by
the cavalry so far in the war, and the belief that it was
capable of accomplishing much more than it had done if under a
thorough leader. I said I wanted the very best man in the army
for that command. Halleck was present and spoke up, saying:
"How would Sheridan do?" I replied: "The very man I want."
The President said I could have anybody I wanted. Sheridan was
telegraphed for that day, and on his arrival was assigned to the
command of the cavalry corps with the Army of the Potomac. This
relieved General Alfred Pleasonton. It was not a reflection on
that officer, however, for I did not know but that he had been
as efficient as any other cavalry commander.

Banks in the Department of the Gulf was ordered to assemble all
the troops he had at New Orleans in time to join in the general
move, Mobile to be his objective.

At this time I was not entirely decided as to whether I should
move the Army of the Potomac by the right flank of the enemy, or
by his left. Each plan presented advantages. (*25) If by his
right--my left--the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay and tributaries
would furnish us an easy hauling distance of every position the
army could occupy from the Rapidan to the James River. But Lee
could, if he chose, detach or move his whole army north on a
line rather interior to the one I would have to take in
following. A movement by his left--our right--would obviate
this; but all that was done would have to be done with the
supplies and ammunition we started with. All idea of adopting
this latter plan was abandoned when the limited quantity of
supplies possible to take with us was considered. The country
over which we would have to pass was so exhausted of all food or
forage that we would be obliged to carry everything with us.

While these preparations were going on the enemy was not
entirely idle. In the West Forrest made a raid in West
Tennessee up to the northern border, capturing the garrison of
four or five hundred men at Union City, and followed it up by an
attack on Paducah, Kentucky, on the banks of the Ohio. While he
was able to enter the city he failed to capture the forts or any
part of the garrison. On the first intelligence of Forrest's
raid I telegraphed Sherman to send all his cavalry against him,
and not to let him get out of the trap he had put himself
into. Sherman had anticipated me by sending troops against him
before he got my order.

Forrest, however, fell back rapidly, and attacked the troops at
Fort Pillow, a station for the protection of the navigation of
the Mississippi River. The garrison consisted of a regiment of
colored troops, infantry, and a detachment of Tennessee
cavalry. These troops fought bravely, but were overpowered. I
will leave Forrest in his dispatches to tell what he did with

"The river was dyed," he says, "with the blood of the
slaughtered for two hundred yards. The approximate loss was
upward of five hundred killed, but few of the officers
escaping. My loss was about twenty killed. It is hoped that
these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro
soldiers cannot cope with Southerners." Subsequently Forrest
made a report in which he left out the part which shocks
humanity to read.

At the East, also, the rebels were busy. I had said to Halleck
that Plymouth and Washington, North Carolina, were unnecessary
to hold. It would be better to have the garrisons engaged there
added to Butler's command. If success attended our arms both
places, and others too, would fall into our hands naturally.
These places had been occupied by Federal troops before I took
command of the armies, and I knew that the Executive would be
reluctant to abandon them, and therefore explained my views; but
before my views were carried out the rebels captured the garrison
at Plymouth. I then ordered the abandonment of Washington, but
directed the holding of New Berne at all hazards. This was
essential because New Berne was a port into which blockade
runners could enter.

General Banks had gone on an expedition up the Red River long
before my promotion to general command. I had opposed the
movement strenuously, but acquiesced because it was the order of
my superior at the time. By direction of Halleck I had
reinforced Banks with a corps of about ten thousand men from
Sherman's command. This reinforcement was wanted back badly
before the forward movement commenced. But Banks had got so far
that it seemed best that he should take Shreveport on the Red
River, and turn over the line of that river to Steele, who
commanded in Arkansas, to hold instead of the line of the
Arkansas. Orders were given accordingly, and with the
expectation that the campaign would be ended in time for Banks
to return A. J. Smith's command to where it belonged and get
back to New Orleans himself in time to execute his part in the
general plan. But the expedition was a failure. Banks did not
get back in time to take part in the programme as laid down. Nor
was Smith returned until long after the movements of May, 1864,
had been begun. The services of forty thousand veteran troops,
over and above the number required to hold all that was
necessary in the Department of the Gulf, were thus paralyzed. It
is but just to Banks, however, to say that his expedition was
ordered from Washington and he was in no way responsible except
for the conduct of it. I make no criticism on this point. He
opposed the expedition.

By the 27th of April spring had so far advanced as to justify me
in fixing a day for the great move. On that day Burnside left
Annapolis to occupy Meade's position between Bull Run and the
Rappahannock. Meade was notified and directed to bring his
troops forward to his advance. On the following day Butler was
notified of my intended advance on the 4th of May, and he was
directed to move the night of the same day and get as far up the
James River as possible by daylight, and push on from there to
accomplish the task given him. He was also notified that
reinforcements were being collected in Washington City, which
would be forwarded to him should the enemy fall back into the
trenches at Richmond. The same day Sherman was directed to get
his forces up ready to advance on the 5th. Sigel was in
Winchester and was notified to move in conjunction with the

The criticism has been made by writers on the campaign from the
Rapidan to the James River that all the loss of life could have
been obviated by moving the army there on transports. Richmond
was fortified and intrenched so perfectly that one man inside to
defend was more than equal to five outside besieging or
assaulting. To get possession of Lee's army was the first great
object. With the capture of his army Richmond would necessarily
follow. It was better to fight him outside of his stronghold
than in it. If the Army of the Potomac had been moved bodily to
the James River by water Lee could have moved a part of his
forces back to Richmond, called Beauregard from the south to
reinforce it, and with the balance moved on to Washington. Then,
too, I ordered a move, simultaneous with that of the Army of the
Potomac, up the James River by a formidable army already
collected at the mouth of the river.

While my headquarters were at Culpeper, from the 26th of March
to the 4th of May, I generally visited Washington once a week to
confer with the Secretary of War and President. On the last
occasion, a few days before moving, a circumstance occurred
which came near postponing my part in the campaign altogether.
Colonel John S. Mosby had for a long time been commanding a
partisan corps, or regiment, which operated in the rear of the
Army of the Potomac. On my return to the field on this
occasion, as the train approached Warrenton Junction, a heavy
cloud of dust was seen to the east of the road as if made by a
body of cavalry on a charge. Arriving at the junction the train
was stopped and inquiries made as to the cause of the dust. There
was but one man at the station, and he informed us that Mosby had
crossed a few minutes before at full speed in pursuit of Federal
cavalry. Had he seen our train coming, no doubt he would have
let his prisoners escape to capture the train. I was on a
special train, if I remember correctly, without any guard.

Since the close of the war I have come to know Colonel Mosby
personally, and somewhat intimately. He is a different man
entirely from what I had supposed. He is slender, not tall,
wiry, and looks as if he could endure any amount of physical
exercise. He is able, and thoroughly honest and truthful. There
were probably but few men in the South who could have commanded
successfully a separate detachment in the rear of an opposing
army, and so near the border of hostilities, as long as he did
without losing his entire command.

On this same visit to Washington I had my last interview with
the President before reaching the James River. He had of course
become acquainted with the fact that a general movement had been
ordered all along the line, and seemed to think it a new feature
in war. I explained to him that it was necessary to have a great
number of troops to guard and hold the territory we had captured,
and to prevent incursions into the Northern States. These troops
could perform this service just as well by advancing as by
remaining still; and by advancing they would compel the enemy to
keep detachments to hold them back, or else lay his own territory
open to invasion. His answer was: "Oh, yes! I see that. As we
say out West, if a man can't skin he must hold a leg while
somebody else does."

There was a certain incident connected with the Wilderness
campaign of which it may not be out of place to speak; and to
avoid a digression further on I will mention it here.

A few days before my departure from Culpeper the Honorable E. B.
Washburne visited me there, and remained with my headquarters for
some distance south, through the battle in the Wilderness and, I
think, to Spottsylvania. He was accompanied by a Mr. Swinton,
whom he presented as a literary gentleman who wished to
accompany the army with a view of writing a history of the war
when it was over. He assured me--and I have no doubt Swinton
gave him the assurance--that he was not present as a
correspondent of the press. I expressed an entire willingness
to have him (Swinton) accompany the army, and would have allowed
him to do so as a correspondent, restricted, however, in the
character of the information he could give. We received
Richmond papers with about as much regularity as if there had
been no war, and knew that our papers were received with equal
regularity by the Confederates. It was desirable, therefore,
that correspondents should not be privileged spies of the enemy
within our lines.

Probably Mr. Swinton expected to be an invited guest at my
headquarters, and was disappointed that he was not asked to
become so. At all events he was not invited, and soon I found
that he was corresponding with some paper (I have now forgotten
which one), thus violating his word either expressed or
implied. He knew of the assurance Washburne had given as to the
character of his mission. I never saw the man from the day of
our introduction to the present that I recollect. He
accompanied us, however, for a time at least.

The second night after crossing the Rapidan (the night of the
5th of May) Colonel W. R. Rowley, of my staff, was acting as
night officer at my headquarters. A short time before midnight
I gave him verbal instructions for the night. Three days later
I read in a Richmond paper a verbatim report of these

A few nights still later (after the first, and possibly after
the second, day's fighting in the Wilderness) General Meade came
to my tent for consultation, bringing with him some of his staff
officers. Both his staff and mine retired to the camp-fire some
yards in front of the tent, thinking our conversation should be
private. There was a stump a little to one side, and between
the front of the tent and camp-fire. One of my staff, Colonel
T. S. Bowers, saw what he took to be a man seated on the ground
and leaning against the stump, listening to the conversation
between Meade and myself. He called the attention of Colonel
Rowley to it. The latter immediately took the man by the
shoulder and asked him, in language more forcible than polite,
what he was doing there. The man proved to be Swinton, the
"historian," and his replies to the question were evasive and
unsatisfactory, and he was warned against further eaves-dropping.

The next I heard of Mr. Swinton was at Cold Harbor. General
Meade came to my headquarters saying that General Burnside had
arrested Swinton, who at some previous time had given great
offence, and had ordered him to be shot that afternoon. I
promptly ordered the prisoner to be released, but that he must
be expelled from the lines of the army not to return again on
pain of punishment.



The armies were now all ready to move for the accomplishment of
a single object. They were acting as a unit so far as such a
thing was possible over such a vast field. Lee, with the
capital of the Confederacy, was the main end to which all were
working. Johnston, with Atlanta, was an important obstacle in
the way of our accomplishing the result aimed at, and was
therefore almost an independent objective. It 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. All other troops were employed exclusively in support of
these two movements. This was the plan; and I will now endeavor
to give, as concisely as I can, the method of its execution,
outlining first the operations of minor detached but
co-operative columns.

As stated before, Banks failed to accomplish what he had been
sent to do on the Red River, and eliminated the use of forty
thousand veterans whose cooperation in the grand campaign had
been expected--ten thousand with Sherman and thirty thousand
against Mobile.

Sigel's record is almost equally brief. He moved out, it is
true, according to programme; but just when I was hoping to hear
of good work being done in the valley I received instead the
following announcement from Halleck: "Sigel is in full retreat
on Strasburg. He will do nothing but run; never did anything
else." The enemy had intercepted him about New Market and
handled him roughly, leaving him short six guns, and some nine
hundred men out of his six thousand.

The plan had been for an advance of Sigel's forces in two
columns. Though the one under his immediate command failed
ingloriously the other proved more fortunate. Under Crook and
Averell his western column advanced from the Gauley in West
Virginia at the appointed time, and with more happy results.
They reached the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at Dublin and
destroyed a depot of supplies, besides tearing up several miles
of road and burning the bridge over New River. Having
accomplished this they recrossed the Alleghanies to Meadow
Bluffs and there awaited further orders.

Butler embarked at Fort Monroe with all his command, except the
cavalry and some artillery which moved up the south bank of the
James River. His steamers moved first up Chesapeake Bay and
York River as if threatening the rear of Lee's army. At
midnight they turned back, and Butler by daylight was far up the
James River. He seized City Point and Bermuda Hundred early in
the day, without loss and, no doubt, very much to the surprise
of the enemy.

This was the accomplishment of the first step contemplated in my
instructions to Butler. He was to act from here, looking to
Richmond as his objective point. I had given him to understand
that I should aim to fight Lee between the Rapidan and Richmond
if he would stand; but should Lee fall back into Richmond I
would follow up and make a junction of the armies of the Potomac
and the James on the James River. He was directed to secure a
footing as far up the south side of the river as he could at as
early a date as possible.

Butler was in position by the 6th of May and had begun
intrenching, and on the 7th he sent out his cavalry from Suffolk
to cut the Weldon Railroad. He also sent out detachments to
destroy the railroad between Petersburg and Richmond, but no
great success attended these latter efforts. He made no great
effort to establish himself on that road and neglected to attack
Petersburg, which was almost defenceless. About the 11th he
advanced slowly until he reached the works at Drury's Bluff,
about half way between Bermuda Hundred and Richmond. In the
mean time Beauregard had been gathering reinforcements. On the
16th he attacked Butler with great vigor, and with such success
as to limit very materially the further usefulness of the Army
of the James as a distinct factor in the campaign. I afterward
ordered a portion of it to join the Army of the Potomac, leaving
a sufficient force with Butler to man his works, hold securely
the footing he had already gained and maintain a threatening
front toward the rear of the Confederate capital.

The position which General Butler had chosen between the two
rivers, the James and Appomattox, was one of great natural
strength, one where a large area of ground might be thoroughly
inclosed by means of a single intrenched line, and that a very
short one in comparison with the extent of territory which it
thoroughly protected. His right was protected by the James
River, his left by the Appomattox, and his rear by their
junction--the two streams uniting near by. The bends of the two
streams shortened the line that had been chosen for
intrenchments, while it increased the area which the line

Previous to ordering any troops from Butler I sent my chief
engineer, General Barnard, from the Army of the Potomac to that
of the James to inspect Butler's position and ascertain whether
I could again safely make an order for General Butler's movement
in co-operation with mine, now that I was getting so near
Richmond; or, if I could not, whether his position was strong
enough to justify me in withdrawing some of his troops and
having them brought round by water to White House to join me and
reinforce the Army of the Potomac. General Barnard reported the
position very strong for defensive purposes, and that I could do
the latter with great security; but that General Butler could not
move from where he was, in co-operation, to produce any effect.
He said that the general occupied a place between the James and
Appomattox rivers which was of great strength, and where with an
inferior force he could hold it for an indefinite length of time
against a superior; but that he could do nothing offensively. I
then asked him why Butler could not move out from his lines and
push across the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad to the rear and
on the south side of Richmond. He replied that it was
impracticable, because the enemy had substantially the same line
across the neck of land that General Butler had. He then took
out his pencil and drew a sketch of the locality, remarking that
the position was like a bottle and that Butler's line of
intrenchments across the neck represented the cork; that the
enemy had built an equally strong line immediately in front of
him across the neck; and it was therefore as if Butler was in a
bottle. He was perfectly safe against an attack; but, as
Barnard expressed it, the enemy had corked the bottle and with a
small force could hold the cork in its place. This struck me as
being very expressive of his position, particularly when I saw
the hasty sketch which General Barnard had drawn; and in making
my subsequent report I used that expression without adding
quotation marks, never thinking that anything had been said that
would attract attention--as this did, very much to the annoyance,
no doubt, of General Butler and, I know, very much to my own. I
found afterwards that this was mentioned in the notes of General
Badeau's book, which, when they were shown to me, I asked to have
stricken out; yet it was retained there, though against my

I make this statement here because, although I have often made
it before, it has never been in my power until now to place it
where it will correct history; and I desire to rectify all
injustice that I may have done to individuals, particularly to
officers who were gallantly serving their country during the
trying period of the war for the preservation of the Union.
General Butler certainly gave his very earnest support to the
war; and he gave his own best efforts personally to the
suppression of the rebellion.

The further operations of the Army of the James can best be
treated of in connection with those of the Army of the Potomac,
the two being so intimately associated and connected as to be
substantially one body in which the individuality of the
supporting wing is merged.

Before giving the reader a summary of Sherman's great Atlanta
campaign, which must conclude my description of the various
co-operative movements preparatory to proceeding with that of
the operations of the centre, I will briefly mention Sheridan's
first raid upon Lee's communications which, though an incident
of the operations on the main line and not specifically marked
out in the original plan, attained in its brilliant execution
and results all the proportions of an independent campaign. By
thus anticipating, in point of time, I will be able to more
perfectly observe the continuity of events occurring in my
immediate front when I shall have undertaken to describe our
advance from the Rapidan.

On the 8th of May, just after the battle of the Wilderness and
when we were moving on Spottsylvania I directed Sheridan
verbally to cut loose from the Army of the Potomac, pass around
the left of Lee's army and attack his cavalry: to cut the two
roads--one running west through Gordonsville, Charlottesville
and Lynchburg, the other to Richmond, and, when compelled to do
so for want of forage and rations, to move on to the James River
and draw these from Butler's supplies. This move took him past
the entire rear of Lee's army. These orders were also given in
writing through Meade.

The object of this move was three-fold. First, if successfully
executed, and it was, he would annoy the enemy by cutting his
line of supplies and telegraphic communications, and destroy or
get for his own use supplies in store in the rear and coming
up. Second, he would draw the enemy's cavalry after him, and
thus better protect our flanks, rear and trains than by
remaining with the army. Third, his absence would save the
trains drawing his forage and other supplies from
Fredericksburg, which had now become our base. He started at
daylight the next morning, and accomplished more than was
expected. It was sixteen days before he got back to the Army of
the Potomac.

The course Sheridan took was directly to Richmond. Before night
Stuart, commanding the Confederate cavalry, came on to the rear
of his command. But the advance kept on, crossed the North
Anna, and at Beaver Dam, a station on the Virginia Central
Railroad, recaptured four hundred Union prisoners on their way
to Richmond, destroyed the road and used and destroyed a large
amount of subsistence and medical stores.

Stuart, seeing that our cavalry was pushing towards Richmond,
abandoned the pursuit on the morning of the 10th and, by a
detour and an exhausting march, interposed between Sheridan and
Richmond at Yellow Tavern, only about six miles north of the
city. Sheridan destroyed the railroad and more supplies at
Ashland, and on the 11th arrived in Stuart's front. A severe
engagement ensued in which the losses were heavy on both sides,
but the rebels were beaten, their leader mortally wounded, and
some guns and many prisoners were captured.

Sheridan passed through the outer defences of Richmond, and
could, no doubt, have passed through the inner ones. But having
no supports near he could not have remained. After caring for
his wounded he struck for the James River below the city, to
communicate with Butler and to rest his men and horses as well
as to get food and forage for them.

He moved first between the Chickahominy and the James, but in
the morning (the 12th) he was stopped by batteries at
Mechanicsville. He then turned to cross to the north side of
the Chickahominy by Meadow Bridge. He found this barred, and
the defeated Confederate cavalry, reorganized, occupying the
opposite side. The panic created by his first entrance within
the outer works of Richmond having subsided troops were sent out
to attack his rear.

He was now in a perilous position, one from which but few
generals could have extricated themselves. The defences of
Richmond, manned, were to the right, the Chickahominy was to the
left with no bridge remaining and the opposite bank guarded, to
the rear was a force from Richmond. This force was attacked and
beaten by Wilson's and Gregg's divisions, while Sheridan turned
to the left with the remaining division and hastily built a
bridge over the Chickahominy under the fire of the enemy, forced
a crossing and soon dispersed the Confederates he found there.
The enemy was held back from the stream by the fire of the
troops not engaged in bridge building.

On the 13th Sheridan was at Bottom's Bridge, over the
Chickahominy. On the 14th he crossed this stream and on that
day went into camp on the James River at Haxall's Landing. He
at once put himself into communication with General Butler, who
directed all the supplies he wanted to be furnished.

Sheridan had left the Army of the Potomac at Spottsylvania, but
did not know where either this or Lee's army was now. Great
caution therefore had to be exercised in getting back. On the
17th, after resting his command for three days, he started on
his return. He moved by the way of White House. The bridge
over the Pamunkey had been burned by the enemy, but a new one
was speedily improvised and the cavalry crossed over it. On the
22d he was at Aylett's on the Matapony, where he learned the
position of the two armies. On the 24th he joined us on the
march from North Anna to Cold Harbor, in the vicinity of

Sheridan in this memorable raid passed entirely around Lee's
army: encountered his cavalry in four engagements, and defeated
them in all; recaptured four hundred Union prisoners and killed
and captured many of the enemy; destroyed and used many supplies
and munitions of war; destroyed miles of railroad and telegraph,
and freed us from annoyance by the cavalry of the enemy for more
than two weeks.



After separating from Sherman in Cincinnati I went on to
Washington, as already stated, while he returned to Nashville to
assume the duties of his new command. His military division was
now composed of four departments and embraced all the territory
west of the Alleghany Mountains and east of the Mississippi
River, together with the State of Arkansas in the
trans-Mississippi. The most easterly of these was the
Department of the Ohio, General Schofield commanding; the next
was the Department of the Cumberland, General Thomas commanding;
the third the Department of the Tennessee, General McPherson
commanding; and General Steele still commanded the
trans-Mississippi, or Department of Arkansas. The last-named
department was so far away that Sherman could not communicate
with it very readily after starting on his spring campaign, and
it was therefore soon transferred from his military division to
that of the Gulf, where General Canby, who had relieved General
Banks, was in command.

The movements of the armies, as I have stated in a former
chapter, were to be simultaneous, I fixing the day to start when
the season should be far enough advanced, it was hoped, for the
roads to be in a condition for the troops to march.

General Sherman at once set himself to work preparing for the
task which was assigned him to accomplish in the spring
campaign. McPherson lay at Huntsville with about twenty-four
thousand men, guarding those points of Tennessee which were
regarded as most worth holding; Thomas, with over sixty thousand
men of the Army of the Cumberland, was at Chattanooga; and
Schofield, with about fourteen thousand men, was at Knoxville.
With these three armies, numbering about one hundred thousand
men in all, Sherman was to move on the day fixed for the general
advance, with a view of destroying Johnston's army and capturing
Atlanta. He visited each of these commands to inform himself as
to their condition, and it was found to be, speaking generally,

One of the first matters to turn his attention to was that of
getting, before the time arrived for starting, an accumulation
of supplies forward to Chattanooga, sufficiently large to
warrant a movement. He found, when he got to that place, that
the trains over the single-track railroad, which was frequently
interrupted for a day or two at a time, were only sufficient to
meet the daily wants of the troops without bringing forward any
surplus of any kind. He found, however, that trains were being
used to transport all the beef cattle, horses for the cavalry,
and even teams that were being brought to the front. He at once
changed all this, and required beef cattle, teams, cavalry
horses, and everything that could travel, even the troops, to be
marched, and used the road exclusively for transporting
supplies. In this way he was able to accumulate an abundance
before the time finally fixed upon for the move, the 4th of May.

As I have said already, Johnston was at Dalton, which was nearly
one-fourth of the way between Chattanooga and Atlanta. The
country is mountainous all the way to Atlanta, abounding in
mountain streams, some of them of considerable volume. Dalton
is on ground where water drains towards Atlanta and into one of
the main streams rising north-east from there and flowing
south-west--this being the general direction which all the main
streams of that section take, with smaller tributaries entering
into them. Johnston had been preparing himself for this
campaign during the entire winter. The best positions for
defence had been selected all the way from Dalton back to
Atlanta, and very strongly intrenched; so that, as he might be
forced to fall back from one position, he would have another to
fall into in his rear. His position at Dalton was so very
strongly intrenched that no doubt he expected, or at least
hoped, to hold Sherman there and prevent him from getting any
further. With a less skilful general, and one disposed to take
no risks, I have no doubt that he would have succeeded.

Sherman's plan was to start Schofield, who was farthest back, a
few days in advance from Knoxville, having him move on the
direct road to Dalton. Thomas was to move out to Ringgold. It
had been Sherman's intention to cross McPherson over the
Tennessee River at Huntsville or Decatur, and move him south
from there so as to have him come into the road running from
Chattanooga to Atlanta a good distance to the rear of the point
Johnston was occupying; but when that was contemplated it was
hoped that McPherson alone would have troops enough to cope with
Johnston, if the latter should move against him while unsupported
by the balance of the army. In this he was disappointed. Two of
McPherson's veteran divisions had re-enlisted on the express
provision that they were to have a furlough. This furlough had
not yet expired, and they were not back.

Then, again, Sherman had lent Banks two divisions under A. J.
Smith, the winter before, to co-operate with the
trans-Mississippi forces, and this with the express pledge that
they should be back by a time specified, so as to be prepared
for this very campaign. It is hardly necessary to say they were
not returned. That department continued to absorb troops to no
purpose to the end of the war. This left McPherson so weak that
the part of the plan above indicated had to be changed. He was
therefore brought up to Chattanooga and moved from there on a
road to the right of Thomas--the two coming together about
Dalton. The three armies were abreast, all ready to start
promptly on time.

Sherman soon found that Dalton was so strongly fortified that it
was useless to make any attempt to carry it by assault; and even
to carry it by regular approaches was impracticable. There was
a narrowing up in the mountain, between the National and
Confederate armies, through which a stream, a wagon road and a
railroad ran. Besides, the stream had been dammed so that the
valley was a lake. Through this gorge the troops would have to
pass. McPherson was therefore sent around by the right, to come
out by the way of Snake Creek Gap into the rear of the enemy.
This was a surprise to Johnston, and about the 13th he decided
to abandon his position at Dalton.

On the 15th there was very hard fighting about Resaca; but our
cavalry having been sent around to the right got near the road
in the enemy's rear. Again Johnston fell back, our army
pursuing. The pursuit was continued to Kingston, which was
reached on the 19th with very little fighting, except that
Newton's division overtook the rear of Johnston's army and
engaged it. Sherman was now obliged to halt for the purpose of
bringing up his railroad trains. He was depending upon the
railroad for all of his supplies, and as of course the railroad
was wholly destroyed as Johnston fell back, it had to be
rebuilt. This work was pushed forward night and day, and caused
much less delay than most persons would naturally expect in a
mountainous country where there were so many bridges to be

The campaign to Atlanta was managed with the most consummate
skill, the enemy being flanked out of one position after another
all the way there. It is true this was not accomplished without
a good deal of fighting--some of it very hard fighting, rising
to the dignity of very important battles--neither were single
positions gained in a day. On the contrary, weeks were spent at
some; and about Atlanta more than a month was consumed.

It was the 23d of May before the road was finished up to the
rear of Sherman's army and the pursuit renewed. This pursuit
brought him up to the vicinity of Allatoona. This place was very
strongly intrenched, and naturally a very defensible position. An
assault upon it was not thought of, but preparations were made to
flank the enemy out of it. This was done by sending a large
force around our right, by the way of Dallas, to reach the rear
of the enemy. Before reaching there, however, they found the
enemy fortified in their way, and there resulted hard fighting
for about a week at a place called New Hope Church. On the left
our troops also were fortified, and as close up to the enemy as
they could get. They kept working still farther around to the
left toward the railroad. This was the case more particularly
with the cavalry. By the 4th of June Johnston found that he was
being hemmed in so rapidly that he drew off and Allatoona was
left in our possession.

Allatoona, being an important place, was strongly intrenched for
occupation by our troops before advancing farther, and made a
secondary base of supplies. The railroad was finished up to
that point, the intrenchments completed, storehouses provided
for food, and the army got in readiness for a further advance.
The rains, however, were falling in such torrents that it was
impossible to move the army by the side roads which they would
have to move upon in order to turn Johnston out of his new

While Sherman's army lay here, General F. P. Blair returned to
it, bringing with him the two divisions of veterans who had been
on furlough.

Johnston had fallen back to Marietta and Kenesaw Mountain, where
strong intrenchments awaited him. At this latter place our
troops made an assault upon the enemy's lines after having got
their own lines up close to him, and failed, sustaining
considerable loss. But during the progress of the battle
Schofield was gaining ground to the left; and the cavalry on his
left were gaining still more toward the enemy's rear. These
operations were completed by the 3d of July, when it was found
that Johnston had evacuated the place. He was pursued at
once. Sherman had made every preparation to abandon the
railroad, leaving a strong guard in his intrenchments. He had
intended, moving out with twenty days' rations and plenty of
ammunition, to come in on the railroad again at the
Chattahoochee River. Johnston frustrated this plan by himself
starting back as above stated. This time he fell back to the

About the 5th of July he was besieged again, Sherman getting
easy possession of the Chattahoochee River both above and below
him. The enemy was again flanked out of his position, or so
frightened by flanking movements that on the night of the 9th he
fell back across the river.

Here Johnston made a stand until the 17th, when Sherman's old
tactics prevailed again and the final movement toward Atlanta
began. Johnston was now relieved of the command, and Hood
superseded him.

Johnston's tactics in this campaign do not seem to have met with
much favor, either in the eyes of the administration at Richmond,
or of the people of that section of the South in which he was
commanding. The very fact of a change of commanders being
ordered under such circumstances was an indication of a change
of policy, and that now they would become the aggressors--the
very thing our troops wanted.

For my own part, I think that Johnston's tactics were right.
Anything that could have prolonged the war a year beyond the
time that it did finally close, would probably have exhausted
the North to such an extent that they might then have abandoned
the contest and agreed to a separation.

Atlanta was very strongly intrenched all the way around in a
circle about a mile and a half outside of the city. In addition
to this, there were advanced intrenchments which had to be taken
before a close siege could be commenced.

Sure enough, as indicated by the change of commanders, the enemy
was about to assume the offensive. On the 20th he came out and
attacked the Army of the Cumberland most furiously. Hooker's
corps, and Newton's and Johnson's divisions were the principal
ones engaged in this contest, which lasted more than an hour;
but the Confederates were then forced to fall back inside their
main lines. The losses were quite heavy on both sides. On this
day General Gresham, since our Postmaster-General, was very badly
wounded. During the night Hood abandoned his outer lines, and
our troops were advanced. The investment had not been
relinquished for a moment during the day.

During the night of the 21st Hood moved out again, passing by
our left flank, which was then in motion to get a position
farther in rear of him, and a desperate battle ensued, which
lasted most of the day of the 22d. At first the battle went
very much in favor of the Confederates, our troops being
somewhat surprised. While our troops were advancing they were
struck in flank, and their flank was enveloped. But they had
become too thorough veterans to be thrown into irreparable
confusion by an unexpected attack when off their guard, and soon
they were in order and engaging the enemy, with the advantage now
of knowing where their antagonist was. The field of battle
continued to expand until it embraced about seven miles of
ground. Finally, however, and before night, the enemy was
driven back into the city (*26).

It was during this battle that McPherson, while passing from one
column to another, was instantly killed. In his death the army
lost one of its ablest, purest and best generals.

Garrard had been sent out with his cavalry to get upon the
railroad east of Atlanta and to cut it in the direction of
Augusta. He was successful in this, and returned about the time
of the battle. Rousseau had also come up from Tennessee with a
small division of cavalry, having crossed the Tennessee River
about Decatur and made a raid into Alabama. Finally, when hard
pressed, he had come in, striking the railroad in rear of
Sherman, and reported to him about this time.

The battle of the 22d is usually known as the Battle of Atlanta,
although the city did not fall into our hands until the 2d of
September. Preparations went on, as before, to flank the enemy
out of his position. The work was tedious, and the lines that
had to be maintained were very long. Our troops were gradually
worked around to the east until they struck the road between
Decatur and Atlanta. These lines were strongly fortified, as
were those to the north and west of the city--all as close up to
the enemy's lines as practicable--in order to hold them with the
smallest possible number of men, the design being to detach an
army to move by our right and try to get upon the railroad down
south of Atlanta.

On the 27th the movement by the right flank commenced. On the
28th the enemy struck our right flank, General Logan commanding,
with great vigor. Logan intrenched himself hastily, and by that
means was enabled to resist all assaults and inflict a great
deal of damage upon the enemy. These assaults were continued to
the middle of the afternoon, and resumed once or twice still
later in the day. The enemy's losses in these unsuccessful
assaults were fearful.

During that evening the enemy in Logan's front withdrew into the
town. This now left Sherman's army close up to the Confederate
lines, extending from a point directly east of the city around
by the north and west of it for a distance of fully ten miles;
the whole of this line being intrenched, and made stronger every
day they remained there.

In the latter part of July Sherman sent Stoneman to destroy the
railroads to the south, about Macon. He was then to go east
and, if possible, release our prisoners about Andersonville.
There were painful stories current at the time about the great
hardships these prisoners had to endure in the way of general
bad treatment, in the way in which they were housed, and in the
way in which they were fed. Great sympathy was felt for them;
and it was thought that even if they could be turned loose upon
the country it would be a great relief to them. But the attempt
proved a failure. McCook, who commanded a small brigade, was
first reported to have been captured; but he got back, having
inflicted a good deal of damage upon the enemy. He had also
taken some prisoners; but encountering afterwards a largely
superior force of the enemy he was obliged to drop his prisoners
and get back as best he could with what men he had left. He had
lost several hundred men out of his small command. On the 4th
of August Colonel Adams, commanding a little brigade of about a
thousand men, returned reporting Stoneman and all but himself as
lost. I myself had heard around Richmond of the capture of
Stoneman, and had sent Sherman word, which he received. The
rumor was confirmed there, also, from other sources. A few days
after Colonel Adams's return Colonel Capron also got in with a
small detachment and confirmed the report of the capture of
Stoneman with something less than a thousand men.

It seems that Stoneman, finding the escape of all his force was
impossible, had made arrangements for the escape of two
divisions. He covered the movement of these divisions to the
rear with a force of about seven hundred men, and at length
surrendered himself and this detachment to the commanding
Confederate. In this raid, however, much damage was inflicted
upon the enemy by the destruction of cars, locomotives, army
wagons, manufactories of military supplies, etc.

On the 4th and 5th Sherman endeavored to get upon the railroad
to our right, where Schofield was in command, but these attempts
failed utterly. General Palmer was charged with being the cause
of this failure, to a great extent, by both General Sherman and
General Schofield; but I am not prepared to say this, although a
question seems to have arisen with Palmer as to whether Schofield
had any right to command him. If he did raise this question
while an action was going on, that act alone was exceedingly

About the same time Wheeler got upon our railroad north of
Resaca and destroyed it nearly up to Dalton. This cut Sherman
off from communication with the North for several days. Sherman
responded to this attack on his lines of communication by
directing one upon theirs.

Kilpatrick started on the night of the 18th of August to reach
the Macon road about Jonesboro. He succeeded in doing so,
passed entirely around the Confederate lines of Atlanta, and was
back again in his former position on our left by the 22d. These
little affairs, however, contributed but very little to the
grand result. They annoyed, it is true, but any damage thus
done to a railroad by any cavalry expedition is soon repaired.

Sherman made preparations for a repetition of his tactics; that
is, for a flank movement with as large a force as could be got
together to some point in the enemy's rear. Sherman commenced
this last movement on the 25th of August, and on the 1st of
September was well up towards the railroad twenty miles south of
Atlanta. Here he found Hardee intrenched, ready to meet him. A
battle ensued, but he was unable to drive Hardee away before
night set in. Under cover of the night, however, Hardee left of
his own accord. That night Hood blew up his military works, such
as he thought would be valuable in our hands, and decamped.

The next morning at daylight General H. W. Slocum, who was
commanding north of the city, moved in and took possession of
Atlanta, and notified Sherman. Sherman then moved deliberately
back, taking three days to reach the city, and occupied a line
extending from Decatur on the left to Atlanta in the centre,
with his troops extending out of the city for some distance to
the right.

The campaign had lasted about four months, and was one of the
most memorable in history. There was but little if anything in
the whole campaign, now that it is over, to criticise at all,
and nothing to criticise severely. It was creditable alike to
the general who commanded and the army which had executed it.
Sherman had on this campaign some bright, wide-awake division
and brigade commanders whose alertness added a host to the
efficiency of his command.

The troops now went to work to make themselves comfortable, and
to enjoy a little rest after their arduous campaign. The city
of Atlanta was turned into a military base. The citizens were
all compelled to leave. Sherman also very wisely prohibited the
assembling of the army of sutlers and traders who always follow
in the wake of an army in the field, if permitted to do so, from
trading with the citizens and getting the money of the soldiers
for articles of but little use to them, and for which they are
made to pay most exorbitant prices. He limited the number of
these traders to one for each of his three armies.

The news of Sherman's success reached the North instantaneously,
and set the country all aglow. This was the first great
political campaign for the Republicans in their canvass of
1864. It was followed later by Sheridan's campaign in the
Shenandoah Valley; and these two campaigns probably had more
effect in settling the election of the following November than
all the speeches, all the bonfires, and all the parading with
banners and bands of music in the North.



Soon after midnight, May 3d-4th, the Army of the Potomac moved
out from its position north Rapidan, to start upon that
memorable campaign, destined to result in the capture of the
Confederate capital and the army defending it. This was not to
be accomplished, however, without as desperate fighting as the
world has ever witnessed; not to be consummated in a day, a
week, a month, single season. The losses inflicted, and
endured, were destined to be severe; but the armies now
confronting each other had already been in deadly conflict for a
period of three years, with immense losses in killed, by death
from sickness, captured and wounded; and neither had made any
real progress accomplishing the final end. It is true the
Confederates had, so far, held their capital, and they claimed
this to be their sole object. But previously they had boldly
proclaimed their intention to capture Philadelphia, New York,
and the National Capital, and had made several attempts to do
so, and once or twice had come fearfully near making their boast
good--too near for complacent contemplation by the loyal North.
They had also come near losing their own capital on at least one
occasion. So here was a stand-off. The campaign now begun was
destined to result in heavier losses, to both armies, in a given
time, than any previously suffered; but the carnage was to be
limited to a single year, and to accomplish all that had been
anticipated or desired at the beginning in that time. We had to
have hard fighting to achieve this. The two armies had been
confronting each other so long, without any decisive result,
that they hardly knew which could whip.

Ten days' rations, with a supply of forage and ammunition were
taken in wagons. Beef cattle were driven with the trains, and
butchered as wanted. Three days rations in addition, in
haversacks, and fifty rounds of cartridges, were carried on the
person of each soldier.

The country over which the army had to operate, from the Rapidan
to the crossing of the James River, is rather flat, and is cut by
numerous streams which make their way to the Chesapeake Bay. The
crossings of these streams by the army were generally made not
far above tide-water, and where they formed a considerable obstacle
to the rapid advance of troops even when the enemy did not
appear in opposition. The country roads were narrow and poor.
Most of the country is covered with a dense forest, in places,
like the Wilderness and along the Chickahominy, almost
impenetrable even for infantry except along the roads. All
bridges were naturally destroyed before the National troops came
to them.

The Army of the Potomac was composed of three infantry and one
cavalry corps, commanded respectively by Generals W. S. Hancock,
G. K. Warren, (*27) John Sedgwick and P. H. Sheridan. The
artillery was commanded by General Henry J. Hunt. This arm was
in such abundance that the fourth of it could not be used to
advantage in such a country as we were destined to pass
through. The surplus was much in the way, taking up as it did
so much of the narrow and bad roads, and consuming so much of
the forage and other stores brought up by the trains.

The 5th corps, General Warren commanding, was in advance on the
right, and marched directly for Germania Ford, preceded by one
division of cavalry, under General J. H. Wilson. General
Sedgwick followed Warren with the 6th corps. Germania Ford was
nine or ten miles below the right of Lee's line. Hancock, with
the 2d corps, moved by another road, farther east, directly upon
Ely's Ford, six miles below Germania, preceded by Gregg's
division of cavalry, and followed by the artillery. Torbert's
division of cavalry was left north of the Rapidan, for the time,
to picket the river and prevent the enemy from crossing and
getting into our rear. The cavalry seized the two crossings
before daylight, drove the enemy's pickets guarding them away,
and by six o'clock A.M. had the pontoons laid ready for the
crossing of the infantry and artillery. This was undoubtedly a
surprise to Lee. The fact that the movement was unopposed
proves this.

Burnside, with the 9th corps, was left back at Warrenton,
guarding the railroad from Bull Run forward to preserve control
of it in case our crossing the Rapidan should be long delayed.
He was instructed, however, to advance at once on receiving
notice that the army had crossed; and a dispatch was sent to him
a little after one P.M. giving the information that our crossing
had been successful.

The country was heavily wooded at all the points of crossing,
particularly on the south side of the river. The battle-field
from the crossing of the Rapidan until the final movement from
the Wilderness toward Spottsylvania was of the same character.
There were some clearings and small farms within what might be
termed the battle-field; but generally the country was covered
with a dense forest. The roads were narrow and bad. All the
conditions were favorable for defensive operations.

There are two roads, good for that part of Virginia, running
from Orange Court House to the battle-field. The most southerly
of these roads is known as the Orange Court House Plank Road, the
northern one as the Orange Turnpike. There are also roads from
east of the battle-field running to Spottsylvania Court House,
one from Chancellorsville, branching at Aldrich's; the western
branch going by Piney Branch Church, Alsop's, thence by the
Brock Road to Spottsylvania; the east branch goes by Gates's,
thence to Spottsylvania. The Brock Road runs from Germania Ford
through the battle-field and on to the Court House. As
Spottsylvania is approached the country is cut up with numerous
roads, some going to the town direct, and others crossing so as
to connect the farms with roads going there.

Lee's headquarters were at Orange Court House. From there to
Fredericksburg he had the use of the two roads above described
running nearly parallel to the Wilderness. This gave him
unusual facilities, for that country, for concentrating his
forces to his right. These roads strike the road from Germania
Ford in the Wilderness.

As soon as the crossing of the infantry was assured, the cavalry
pushed forward, Wilson's division by Wilderness Tavern to
Parker's store, on the Orange Plank Road; Gregg to the left
towards Chancellorsville. Warren followed Wilson and reached
the Wilderness Tavern by noon, took position there and
intrenched. Sedgwick followed Warren. He was across the river
and in camp on the south bank, on the right of Warren, by
sundown. Hancock, with the 2d corps, moved parallel with Warren
and camped about six miles east of him. Before night all the
troops, and by the evening of the 5th the trains of more than
four thousand wagons, were safely on the south side of the river.

There never was a corps better organized than was the
quartermaster's corps with the Army of the Potomac in 1864. With
a wagon-train that would have extended from the Rapidan to
Richmond, stretched along in single file and separated as the
teams necessarily would be when moving, we could still carry
only three days' forage and about ten to twelve days' rations,
besides a supply of ammunition. To overcome all difficulties,
the chief quartermaster, General Rufus Ingalls, had marked on
each wagon the corps badge with the division color and the
number of the brigade. At a glance, the particular brigade to
which any wagon belonged could be told. The wagons were also
marked to note the contents: if ammunition, whether for
artillery or infantry; if forage, whether grain or hay; if
rations, whether, bread, pork, beans, rice, sugar, coffee or
whatever it might be. Empty wagons were never allowed to follow
the army or stay in camp. As soon as a wagon was empty it would
return to the base of supply for a load of precisely the same
article that had been taken from it. Empty trains were obliged
to leave the road free for loaded ones. Arriving near the army
they would be parked in fields nearest to the brigades they
belonged to. Issues, except of ammunition, were made at night
in all cases. By this system the hauling of forage for the
supply train was almost wholly dispensed with. They consumed
theirs at the depots.

I left Culpeper Court House after all the troops had been put in
motion, and passing rapidly to the front, crossed the Rapidan in
advance of Sedgwick's corps; and established headquarters for
the afternoon and night in a deserted house near the river.

Orders had been given, long before this movement began, to cut
down the baggage of officers and men to the lowest point
possible. Notwithstanding this I saw scattered along the road
from Culpeper to Germania Ford wagon-loads of new blankets and
overcoats, thrown away by the troops to lighten their knapsacks;
an improvidence I had never witnessed before.

Lee, while his pickets and signal corps must have discovered at
a very early hour on the morning of the 4th of May, that the
Army of the Potomac was moving, evidently did not learn until
about one o'clock in the afternoon by what route we would
confront his army. This I judge from the fact that at 1.15
P.M., an hour and a quarter after Warren had reached Old
Wilderness Tavern, our officers took off rebel signals which,
when translated, were seen to be an order to his troops to
occupy their intrenchments at Mine Run.

Here at night dispatches were received announcing that Sherman,
Butler and Crook had moved according to programme.

On discovering the advance of the Army of the Potomac, Lee
ordered Hill, Ewell and Longstreet, each commanding corps, to
move to the right to attack us, Hill on the Orange Plank Road,
Longstreet to follow on the same road. Longstreet was at this
time--middle of the afternoon--at Gordonsville, twenty or more
miles away. Ewell was ordered by the Orange Pike. He was near
by and arrived some four miles east of Mine Run before
bivouacking for the night.

My orders were given through General Meade for an early advance
on the morning of the 5th. Warren was to move to Parker's
store, and Wilson's cavalry--then at Parker's store--to move on
to Craig's meeting-house. Sedgwick followed Warren, closing in
on his right. The Army of the Potomac was facing to the west,
though our advance was made to the south, except when facing the
enemy. Hancock was to move south-westward to join on the left of
Warren, his left to reach to Shady Grove Church.

At six o'clock, before reaching Parker's store, Warren
discovered the enemy. He sent word back to this effect, and was
ordered to halt and prepare to meet and attack him. Wright, with
his division of Sedgwick's corps, was ordered, by any road he
could find, to join on to Warren's right, and Getty with his
division, also of Sedgwick's corps, was ordered to move rapidly
by Warren's rear and get on his left. This was the speediest
way to reinforce Warren who was confronting the enemy on both
the Orange plank and turnpike roads.

Burnside had moved promptly on the 4th, on receiving word that
the Army of the Potomac had safely crossed the Rapidan. By
making a night march, although some of his troops had to march
forty miles to reach the river, he was crossing with the head of
his column early on the morning of the 5th. Meade moved his
headquarters on to Old Wilderness Tavern, four miles south of
the river, as soon as it was light enough to see the road. I
remained to hasten Burnside's crossing and to put him in
position. Burnside at this time was not under Meade's command,
and was his senior in rank. Getting information of the
proximity of the enemy, I informed Meade, and without waiting to
see Burnside, at once moved forward my headquarters to where
Meade was.

It was my plan then, as it was on all other occasions, to take
the initiative whenever the enemy could be drawn from his
intrenchments if we were not intrenched ourselves. Warren had
not yet reached the point where he was to halt, when he
discovered the enemy near by. Neither party had any advantage
of position. Warren was, therefore, ordered to attack as soon
as he could prepare for it. At nine o'clock Hancock was ordered
to come up to the support of Getty. He himself arrived at
Getty's front about noon, but his troops were yet far in the
rear. Getty was directed to hold his position at all hazards
until relieved. About this hour Warren was ready, and attacked
with favorable though not decisive results. Getty was somewhat
isolated from Warren and was in a precarious condition for a
time. Wilson, with his division of cavalry, was farther south,
and was cut off from the rest of the army. At two o'clock
Hancock's troops began to arrive, and immediately he was ordered
to join Getty and attack the enemy. But the heavy timber and
narrow roads prevented him from getting into position for attack
as promptly as he generally did when receiving such orders. At
four o'clock he again received his orders to attack, and General
Getty received orders from Meade a few minutes later to attack
whether Hancock was ready or not. He met the enemy under Heth
within a few hundred yards.

Hancock immediately sent two divisions, commanded by Birney and
Mott, and later two brigades, Carroll's and Owen's, to the
support of Getty. This was timely and saved Getty. During the
battle Getty and Carroll were wounded, but remained on the
field. One of Birney's most gallant brigade commanders
--Alexander Hays--was killed.

I had been at West Point with Hays for three years, and had
served with him through the Mexican war, a portion of the time
in the same regiment. He was a most gallant officer, ready to
lead his command wherever ordered. With him it was "Come,
boys," not "Go."

Wadsworth's division and Baxter's brigade of the 2d division
were sent to reinforce Hancock and Getty; but the density of the
intervening forest was such that, there being no road to march
upon, they did not get up with the head of column until night,
and bivouacked where they were without getting into position.

During the afternoon Sheridan sent Gregg's division of cavalry
to Todd's Tavern in search of Wilson. This was fortunate. He
found Wilson engaged with a superior force under General Rosser,
supported by infantry, and falling back before it. Together they
were strong enough to turn the tables upon the enemy and
themselves become aggressive. They soon drove the rebel cavalry
back beyond Corbin's Bridge.

Fighting between Hancock and Hill continued until night put a
close to it. Neither side made any special progress.

After the close of the battle of the 5th of May my orders were
given for the following morning. We knew Longstreet with 12,000
men was on his way to join Hill's right, near the Brock Road, and
might arrive during the night. I was anxious that the rebels
should not take the initiative in the morning, and therefore
ordered Hancock to make an assault at 4.30 o'clock. Meade asked
to have the hour changed to six. Deferring to his wishes as far
as I was willing, the order was modified and five was fixed as
the hour to move.

Hancock had now fully one-half of the Army of the Potomac.
Wadsworth with his division, which had arrived the night before,
lay in a line perpendicular to that held by Hill, and to the
right of Hancock. He was directed to move at the same time, and
to attack Hill's left.

Burnside, who was coming up with two divisions, was directed to
get in between Warren and Wadsworth, and attack as soon as he
could get in position to do so. Sedgwick and Warren were to
make attacks in their front, to detain as many of the enemy as
they could and to take advantage of any attempt to reinforce
Hill from that quarter. Burnside was ordered if he should
succeed in breaking the enemy's centre, to swing around to the
left and envelop the right of Lee's army. Hancock was informed
of all the movements ordered.

Burnside had three divisions, but one of them--a colored
division--was sent to guard the wagon train, and he did not see
it again until July.

Lee was evidently very anxious that there should be no battle on
his right until Longstreet got up. This is evident from the fact
that notwithstanding the early hour at which I had ordered the
assault, both for the purpose of being the attacking party and
to strike before Longstreet got up, Lee was ahead in his assault
on our right. His purpose was evident, but he failed.

Hancock was ready to advance by the hour named, but learning in
time that Longstreet was moving a part of his corps by the
Catharpin Road, thus threatening his left flank, sent a division
of infantry, commanded by General Barlow, with all his artillery,


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