The Memoirs of General Ulysses S. Grant, Part 6.
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 2 out of 4

He then sat down and wrote out the following letter:


GENERAL:--I received your letter of this date containing the terms of
the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia as proposed by you. As
they are substantially the same as those expressed in your letter of the
8th inst., they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper
officers to carry the stipulations into effect.


While duplicates of the two letters were being made, the Union generals
present were severally presented to General Lee.

The much talked of surrendering of Lee's sword and my handing it back,
this and much more that has been said about it is the purest romance.
The word sword or side arms was not mentioned by either of us until I
wrote it in the terms. There was no premeditation, and it did not occur
to me until the moment I wrote it down. If I had happened to omit it,
and General Lee had called my attention to it, I should have put it in
the terms precisely as I acceded to the provision about the soldiers
retaining their horses.

General Lee, after all was completed and before taking his leave,
remarked that his army was in a very bad condition for want of food, and
that they were without forage; that his men had been living for some
days on parched corn exclusively, and that he would have to ask me for
rations and forage. I told him "certainly," and asked for how many men
he wanted rations. His answer was "about twenty-five thousand;" and I
authorized him to send his own commissary and quartermaster to
Appomattox Station, two or three miles away, where he could have, out of
the trains we had stopped, all the provisions wanted. As for forage, we
had ourselves depended almost entirely upon the country for that.

Generals Gibbon, Griffin and Merritt were designated by me to carry into
effect the paroling of Lee's troops before they should start for their
homes--General Lee leaving Generals Longstreet, Gordon and Pendleton for
them to confer with in order to facilitate this work. Lee and I then
separated as cordially as we had met, he returning to his own lines, and
all went into bivouac for the night at Appomattox.

Soon after Lee's departure I telegraphed to Washington as follows:

HEADQUARTERS APPOMATTOX C. H., VA., April 9th, 1865, 4.30 P.M.

HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington.

General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia this afternoon on
terms proposed by myself. The accompanying additional correspondence
will show the conditions fully.

U. S. GRANT, Lieut.-General.

When news of the surrender first reached our lines our men commenced
firing a salute of a hundred guns in honor of the victory. I at once
sent word, however, to have it stopped. The Confederates were now our
prisoners, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.

I determined to return to Washington at once, with a view to putting a
stop to the purchase of supplies, and what I now deemed other useless
outlay of money. Before leaving, however, I thought I (*44) would like
to see General Lee again; so next morning I rode out beyond our lines
towards his headquarters, preceded by a bugler and a staff-officer
carrying a white flag.

Lee soon mounted his horse, seeing who it was, and met me. We had there
between the lines, sitting on horseback, a very pleasant conversation of
over half an hour, in the course of which Lee said to me that the South
was a big country and that we might have to march over it three or four
times before the war entirely ended, but that we would now be able to do
it as they could no longer resist us. He expressed it as his earnest
hope, however, that we would not be called upon to cause more loss and
sacrifice of life; but he could not foretell the result. I then
suggested to General Lee that there was not a man in the Confederacy
whose influence with the soldiery and the whole people was as great as
his, and that if he would now advise the surrender of all the armies I
had no doubt his advice would be followed with alacrity. But Lee said,
that he could not do that without consulting the President first. I
knew there was no use to urge him to do anything against his ideas of
what was right.

I was accompanied by my staff and other officers, some of whom seemed to
have a great desire to go inside the Confederate lines. They finally
asked permission of Lee to do so for the purpose of seeing some of their
old army friends, and the permission was granted. They went over, had a
very pleasant time with their old friends, and brought some of them back
with them when they returned.

When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I returned to the
house of Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both armies came in great
numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much as though they had been
friends separated for a long time while fighting battles under the same
flag. For the time being it looked very much as if all thought of the
war had escaped their minds. After an hour pleasantly passed in this
way I set out on horseback, accompanied by my staff and a small escort,
for Burkesville Junction, up to which point the railroad had by this
time been repaired.



After the fall of Petersburg, and when the armies of the Potomac and the
James were in motion to head off Lee's army, the morale of the National
troops had greatly improved. There was no more straggling, no more rear
guards. The men who in former times had been falling back, were now, as
I have already stated, striving to get to the front. For the first time
in four weary years they felt that they were now nearing the time when
they could return to their homes with their country saved. On the other
hand, the Confederates were more than correspondingly depressed. Their
despondency increased with each returning day, and especially after the
battle of Sailor's Creek. They threw away their arms in constantly
increasing numbers, dropping out of the ranks and betaking themselves to
the woods in the hope of reaching their homes. I have already instanced
the case of the entire disintegration of a regiment whose colonel I met
at Farmville. As a result of these and other influences, when Lee
finally surrendered at Appomattox, there were only 28,356 officers and
men left to be paroled, and many of these were without arms. It was
probably this latter fact which gave rise to the statement sometimes
made, North and South, that Lee surrendered a smaller number of men than
what the official figures show. As a matter of official record, and in
addition to the number paroled as given above, we captured between March
29th and the date of surrender 19,132 Confederates, to say nothing of
Lee's other losses, killed, wounded and missing, during the series of
desperate conflicts which marked his headlong and determined flight.
The same record shows the number of cannon, including those at
Appomattox, to have been 689 between the dates named.

There has always been a great conflict of opinion as to the number of
troops engaged in every battle, or all important battles, fought between
the sections, the South magnifying the number of Union troops engaged
and belittling their own. Northern writers have fallen, in many
instances, into the same error. I have often heard gentlemen, who were
thoroughly loyal to the Union, speak of what a splendid fight the South
had made and successfully continued for four years before yielding, with
their twelve million of people against our twenty, and of the twelve
four being colored slaves, non-combatants. I will add to their
argument. We had many regiments of brave and loyal men who volunteered
under great difficulty from the twelve million belonging to the South.

But the South had rebelled against the National government. It was not
bound by any constitutional restrictions. The whole South was a
military camp. The occupation of the colored people was to furnish
supplies for the army. Conscription was resorted to early, and embraced
every male from the age of eighteen to forty-five, excluding only those
physically unfit to serve in the field, and the necessary number of
civil officers of State and intended National government. The old and
physically disabled furnished a good portion of these. The slaves, the
non-combatants, one-third of the whole, were required to work in the
field without regard to sex, and almost without regard to age. Children
from the age of eight years could and did handle the hoe; they were not
much older when they began to hold the plough. The four million of
colored non-combatants were equal to more than three times their number
in the North, age for age and sex for sex, in supplying food from the
soil to support armies. Women did not work in the fields in the North,
and children attended school.

The arts of peace were carried on in the North. Towns and cities grew
during the war. Inventions were made in all kinds of machinery to
increase the products of a day's labor in the shop, and in the field.
In the South no opposition was allowed to the government which had been
set up and which would have become real and respected if the rebellion
had been successful. No rear had to be protected. All the troops in
service could be brought to the front to contest every inch of ground
threatened with invasion. The press of the South, like the people who
remained at home, were loyal to the Southern cause.

In the North, the country, the towns and the cities presented about the
same appearance they do in time of peace. The furnace was in blast, the
shops were filled with workmen, the fields were cultivated, not only to
supply the population of the North and the troops invading the South,
but to ship abroad to pay a part of the expense of the war. In the
North the press was free up to the point of open treason. The citizen
could entertain his views and express them. Troops were necessary in
the Northern States to prevent prisoners from the Southern army being
released by outside force, armed and set at large to destroy by fire our
Northern cities. Plans were formed by Northern and Southern citizens to
burn our cities, to poison the water supplying them, to spread infection
by importing clothing from infected regions, to blow up our river and
lake steamers--regardless of the destruction of innocent lives. The
copperhead disreputable portion of the press magnified rebel successes,
and belittled those of the Union army. It was, with a large following,
an auxiliary to the Confederate army. The North would have been much
stronger with a hundred thousand of these men in the Confederate ranks
and the rest of their kind thoroughly subdued, as the Union sentiment
was in the South, than we were as the battle was fought.

As I have said, the whole South was a military camp. The colored
people, four million in number, were submissive, and worked in the field
and took care of the families while the able-bodied white men were at
the front fighting for a cause destined to defeat. The cause was
popular, and was enthusiastically supported by the young men. The
conscription took all of them. Before the war was over, further
conscriptions took those between fourteen and eighteen years of age as
junior reserves, and those between forty-five and sixty as senior
reserves. It would have been an offence, directly after the war, and
perhaps it would be now, to ask any able-bodied man in the South, who
was between the ages of fourteen and sixty at any time during the war,
whether he had been in the Confederate army. He would assert that he
had, or account for his absence from the ranks. Under such
circumstances it is hard to conceive how the North showed such a
superiority of force in every battle fought. I know they did not.

During 1862 and '3, John H. Morgan, a partisan officer, of no military
education, but possessed of courage and endurance, operated in the rear
of the Army of the Ohio in Kentucky and Tennessee. He had no base of
supplies to protect, but was at home wherever he went. The army
operating against the South, on the contrary, had to protect its lines
of communication with the North, from which all supplies had to come to
the front. Every foot of road had to be guarded by troops stationed at
convenient distances apart. These guards could not render assistance
beyond the points where stationed. Morgan Was foot-loose and could
operate where, his information--always correct--led him to believe he
could do the greatest damage. During the time he was operating in this
way he killed, wounded and captured several times the number he ever had
under his command at any one time. He destroyed many millions of
property in addition. Places he did not attack had to be guarded as if
threatened by him. Forrest, an abler soldier, operated farther west,
and held from the National front quite as many men as could be spared
for offensive operations. It is safe to say that more than half the
National army was engaged in guarding lines of supplies, or were on
leave, sick in hospital or on detail which prevented their bearing arms.
Then, again, large forces were employed where no Confederate army
confronted them. I deem it safe to say that there were no large
engagements where the National numbers compensated for the advantage of
position and intrenchment occupied by the enemy.

While I was in pursuit of General Lee, the President went to Richmond in
company with Admiral Porter, and on board his flagship. He found the
people of that city in great consternation. The leading citizens among
the people who had remained at home surrounded him, anxious that
something should be done to relieve them from suspense. General Weitzel
was not then in the city, having taken offices in one of the neighboring
villages after his troops had succeeded in subduing the conflagration
which they had found in progress on entering the Confederate capital.
The President sent for him, and, on his arrival, a short interview was
had on board the vessel, Admiral Porter and a leading citizen of
Virginia being also present. After this interview the President wrote an
order in about these words, which I quote from memory: "General Weitzel
is authorized to permit the body calling itself the Legislature of
Virginia to meet for the purpose of recalling the Virginia troops from
the Confederate armies."

Immediately some of the gentlemen composing that body wrote out a call
for a meeting and had it published in their papers. This call, however,
went very much further than Mr. Lincoln had contemplated, as he did not
say the "Legislature of Virginia" but "the body which called itself the
Legislature of Virginia." Mr. Stanton saw the call as published in the
Northern papers the very next issue and took the liberty of
countermanding the order authorizing any meeting of the Legislature, or
any other body, and this notwithstanding the fact that the President was
nearer the spot than he was.

This was characteristic of Mr. Stanton. He was a man who never
questioned his own authority, and who always did in war time what he
wanted to do. He was an able constitutional lawyer and jurist; but the
Constitution was not an impediment to him while the war lasted. In this
latter particular I entirely agree with the view he evidently held. The
Constitution was not framed with a view to any such rebellion as that of
1861-5. While it did not authorize rebellion it made no provision
against it. Yet the right to resist or suppress rebellion is as
inherent as the right of self-defence, and as natural as the right of an
individual to preserve his life when in jeopardy. The Constitution was
therefore in abeyance for the time being, so far as it in any way
affected the progress and termination of the war.

Those in rebellion against the government of the United States were not
restricted by constitutional provisions, or any other, except the acts
of their Congress, which was loyal and devoted to the cause for which
the South was then fighting. It would be a hard case when one-third of
a nation, united in rebellion against the national authority, is
entirely untrammeled, that the other two-thirds, in their efforts to
maintain the Union intact, should be restrained by a Constitution
prepared by our ancestors for the express purpose of insuring the
permanency of the confederation of the States.

After I left General Lee at Appomattox Station, I went with my staff and
a few others directly to Burkesville Station on my way to Washington.
The road from Burkesville back having been newly repaired and the ground
being soft, the train got off the track frequently, and, as a result, it
was after midnight of the second day when I reached City Point. As soon
as possible I took a dispatch-boat thence to Washington City.

While in Washington I was very busy for a time in preparing the
necessary orders for the new state of affairs; communicating with my
different commanders of separate departments, bodies of troops, etc.
But by the 14th I was pretty well through with this work, so as to be
able to visit my children, who were then in Burlington, New Jersey,
attending school. Mrs. Grant was with me in Washington at the time, and
we were invited by President and Mrs. Lincoln to accompany them to the
theatre on the evening of that day. I replied to the President's verbal
invitation to the effect, that if we were in the city we would take
great pleasure in accompanying them; but that I was very anxious to get
away and visit my children, and if I could get through my work during
the day I should do so. I did get through and started by the evening
train on the 14th, sending Mr. Lincoln word, of course, that I would not
be at the theatre.

At that time the railroad to New York entered Philadelphia on Broad
Street; passengers were conveyed in ambulances to the Delaware River,
and then ferried to Camden, at which point they took the cars again.
When I reached the ferry, on the east side of the City of Philadelphia,
I found people awaiting my arrival there; and also dispatches informing
me of the assassination of the President and Mr. Seward, and of the
probable assassination of the Vice President, Mr. Johnson, and
requesting my immediate return.

It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling that overcame me
at the news of these assassinations, more especially the assassination
of the President. I knew his goodness of heart, his generosity, his
yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all
his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon
the full privileges of citizenship with equality among all. I knew also
the feeling that Mr. Johnson had expressed in speeches and conversation
against the Southern people, and I feared that his course towards them
would be such as to repel, and make them unwilling citizens; and if they
became such they would remain so for a long while. I felt that
reconstruction had been set back, no telling how far.

I immediately arranged for getting a train to take me back to Washington
City; but Mrs. Grant was with me; it was after midnight and Burlington
was but an hour away. Finding that I could accompany her to our house
and return about as soon as they would be ready to take me from the
Philadelphia station, I went up with her and returned immediately by the
same special train. The joy that I had witnessed among the people in
the street and in public places in Washington when I left there, had
been turned to grief; the city was in reality a city of mourning. I
have stated what I believed then the effect of this would be, and my
judgment now is that I was right. I believe the South would have been
saved from very much of the hardness of feeling that was engendered by
Mr. Johnson's course towards them during the first few months of his
administration. Be this as it may, Mr. Lincoln's assassination was
particularly unfortunate for the entire nation.

Mr. Johnson's course towards the South did engender bitterness of
feeling. His denunciations of treason and his ever-ready remark,
"Treason is a crime and must be made odious," was repeated to all those
men of the South who came to him to get some assurances of safety so
that they might go to work at something with the feeling that what they
obtained would be secure to them. He uttered his denunciations with
great vehemence, and as they were accompanied with no assurances of
safety, many Southerners were driven to a point almost beyond endurance.

The President of the United States is, in a large degree, or ought to
be, a representative of the feeling, wishes and judgment of those over
whom he presides; and the Southerners who read the denunciations of
themselves and their people must have come to the conclusion that he
uttered the sentiments of the Northern people; whereas, as a matter of
fact, but for the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, I believe the great
majority of the Northern people, and the soldiers unanimously, would
have been in favor of a speedy reconstruction on terms that would be the
least humiliating to the people who had rebelled against their
government. They believed, I have no doubt, as I did, that besides
being the mildest, it was also the wisest, policy.

The people who had been in rebellion must necessarily come back into the
Union, and be incorporated as an integral part of the nation. Naturally
the nearer they were placed to an equality with the people who had not
rebelled, the more reconciled they would feel with their old
antagonists, and the better citizens they would be from the beginning.
They surely would not make good citizens if they felt that they had a
yoke around their necks.

I do not believe that the majority of the Northern people at that time
were in favor of negro suffrage. They supposed that it would naturally
follow the freedom of the negro, but that there would be a time of
probation, in which the ex-slaves could prepare themselves for the
privileges of citizenship before the full right would be conferred; but
Mr. Johnson, after a complete revolution of sentiment, seemed to regard
the South not only as an oppressed people, but as the people best
entitled to consideration of any of our citizens. This was more than
the people who had secured to us the perpetuation of the Union were
prepared for, and they became more radical in their views. The
Southerners had the most power in the executive branch, Mr. Johnson
having gone to their side; and with a compact South, and such sympathy
and support as they could get from the North, they felt that they would
be able to control the nation at once, and already many of them acted as
if they thought they were entitled to do so.

Thus Mr. Johnson, fighting Congress on the one hand, and receiving the
support of the South on the other, drove Congress, which was
overwhelmingly republican, to the passing of first one measure and then
another to restrict his power. There being a solid South on one side
that was in accord with the political party in the North which had
sympathized with the rebellion, it finally, in the judgment of Congress
and of the majority of the legislatures of the States, became necessary
to enfranchise the negro, in all his ignorance. In this work, I shall
not discuss the question of how far the policy of Congress in this
particular proved a wise one. It became an absolute necessity, however,
because of the foolhardiness of the President and the blindness of the
Southern people to their own interest. As to myself, while strongly
favoring the course that would be the least humiliating to the people
who had been in rebellion, I gradually worked up to the point where,
with the majority of the people, I favored immediate enfranchisement.



When I left Appomattox I ordered General Meade to proceed leisurely back
to Burkesville Station with the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the
James, and to go into camp there until further orders from me. General
Johnston, as has been stated before, was in North Carolina confronting
General Sherman. It could not be known positively, of course, whether
Johnston would surrender on the news of Lee's surrender, though I
supposed he would; and if he did not, Burkesville Station was the
natural point from which to move to attack him. The army which I could
have sent against him was superior to his, and that with which Sherman
confronted him was also superior; and between the two he would
necessarily have been crushed, or driven away. With the loss of their
capital and the Army of Northern Virginia it was doubtful whether
Johnston's men would have the spirit to stand. My belief was that he
would make no such attempt; but I adopted this course as a precaution
against what might happen, however improbable.

Simultaneously with my starting from City Point, I sent a messenger to
North Carolina by boat with dispatches to General Sherman, informing him
of the surrender of Lee and his army; also of the terms which I had
given him; and I authorized Sherman to give the same terms to Johnston
if the latter chose to accept them. The country is familiar with the
terms that Sherman agreed to CONDITIONALLY, because they embraced a
political question as well as a military one and he would therefore have
to confer with the government before agreeing to them definitely.

General Sherman had met Mr. Lincoln at City Point while visiting there
to confer with me about our final movement, and knew what Mr. Lincoln
had said to the peace commissioners when he met them at Hampton Roads,
viz.: that before he could enter into negotiations with them they would
have to agree to two points: one being that the Union should be
preserved, and the other that slavery should be abolished; and if they
were ready to concede these two points he was almost ready to sign his
name to a blank piece of paper and permit them to fill out the balance
of the terms upon which we would live together. He had also seen
notices in the newspapers of Mr. Lincoln's visit to Richmond, and had
read in the same papers that while there he had authorized the convening
of the Legislature of Virginia.

Sherman thought, no doubt, in adding to the terms that I had made with
general Lee, that he was but carrying out the wishes of the President of
the United States. But seeing that he was going beyond his authority,
he made it a point that the terms were only conditional. They signed
them with this understanding, and agreed to a truce until the terms
could be sent to Washington for approval; if approved by the proper
authorities there, they would then be final; if not approved, then he
would give due notice, before resuming hostilities. As the world knows,
Sherman, from being one of the most popular generals of the land
(Congress having even gone so far as to propose a bill providing for a
second lieutenant-general for the purpose of advancing him to that
grade), was denounced by the President and Secretary of War in very
bitter terms. Some people went so far as to denounce him as a traitor
--a most preposterous term to apply to a man who had rendered so much
service as he had, even supposing he had made a mistake in granting such
terms as he did to Johnston and his army. If Sherman had taken
authority to send Johnston with his army home, with their arms to be put
in the arsenals of their own States, without submitting the question to
the authorities at Washington, the suspicions against him might have
some foundation. But the feeling against Sherman died out very rapidly,
and it was not many weeks before he was restored to the fullest
confidence of the American people.

When, some days after my return to Washington, President Johnson and the
Secretary of war received the terms which General Sherman had forwarded
for approval, a cabinet meeting was immediately called and I was sent
for. There seemed to be the greatest consternation, lest Sherman would
commit the government to terms which they were not willing to accede to
and which he had no right to grant. A message went out directing the
troops in the South not to obey General Sherman. I was ordered to
proceed at once to North Carolina and take charge of matter there
myself. Of course I started without delay, and reached there as soon as
possible. I repaired to Raleigh, where Sherman was, as quietly as
possible, hoping to see him without even his army learning of my

When I arrived I went to Sherman's headquarters, and we were at once
closeted together. I showed him the instruction and orders under which
I visited him. I told him that I wanted him to notify General Johnston
that the terms which they had conditionally agreed upon had not been
approved in Washington, and that he was authorized to offer the same
terms I had given General Lee. I sent Sherman to do this himself. I
did not wish the knowledge of my presence to be known to the army
generally; so I left it to Sherman to negotiate the terms of the
surrender solely by himself, and without the enemy knowing that I was
anywhere near the field. As soon as possible I started to get away, to
leave Sherman quite free and untrammelled.

At Goldsboro', on my way back, I met a mail, containing the last
newspapers, and I found in them indications of great excitement in the
North over the terms Sherman had given Johnston; and harsh orders that
had been promulgated by the President and Secretary of War. I knew that
Sherman must see these papers, and I fully realized what great
indignation they would cause him, though I do not think his feelings
could have been more excited than were my own. But like the true and
loyal soldier that he was, he carried out the instructions I had given
him, obtained the surrender of Johnston's army, and settled down in his
camp about Raleigh, to await final orders.

There were still a few expeditions out in the South that could not be
communicated with, and had to be left to act according to the judgment
of their respective commanders. With these it was impossible to tell
how the news of the surrender of Lee and Johnston, of which they must
have heard, might affect their judgment as to what was best to do.

The three expeditions which I had tried so hard to get off from the
commands of Thomas and Canby did finally get off: one under Canby
himself, against Mobile, late in March; that under Stoneman from East
Tennessee on the 20th; and the one under Wilson, starting from Eastport,
Mississippi, on the 22d of March. They were all eminently successful,
but without any good result. Indeed much valuable property was destroyed
and many lives lost at a time when we would have liked to spare them.
The war was practically over before their victories were gained. They
were so late in commencing operations, that they did not hold any troops
away that otherwise would have been operating against the armies which
were gradually forcing the Confederate armies to a surrender. The only
possible good that we may have experienced from these raids was by
Stoneman's getting near Lynchburg about the time the armies of the
Potomac and the James were closing in on Lee at Appomattox.

Stoneman entered North Carolina and then pushed north to strike the
Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. He got upon that road, destroyed its
bridges at different places and rendered the road useless to the enemy
up to within a few miles of Lynchburg. His approach caused the
evacuation of that city about the time we were at Appomattox, and was
the cause of a commotion we heard of there. He then pushed south, and
was operating in the rear of Johnston's army about the time the
negotiations were going on between Sherman and Johnston for the latter's
surrender. In this raid Stoneman captured and destroyed a large amount
of stores, while fourteen guns and nearly two thousand prisoners were
the trophies of his success.

Canby appeared before Mobile on the 27th of March. The city of Mobile
was protected by two forts, besides other intrenchments--Spanish Fort,
on the east side of the bay, and Fort Blakely, north of the city. These
forts were invested. On the night of the 8th of April, the National
troops having carried the enemy's works at one point, Spanish Fort was
evacuated; and on the 9th, the very day of Lee's surrender, Blakely was
carried by assault, with a considerable loss to us. On the 11th the
city was evacuated.

I had tried for more than two years to have an expedition sent against
Mobile when its possession by us would have been of great advantage. It
finally cost lives to take it when its possession was of no importance,
and when, if left alone, it would within a few days have fallen into our
hands without any bloodshed whatever.

Wilson moved out with full 12,000 men, well equipped and well armed. He
was an energetic officer and accomplished his work rapidly. Forrest was
in his front, but with neither his old-time army nor his old-time
prestige. He now had principally conscripts. His conscripts were
generally old men and boys. He had a few thousand regular cavalry left,
but not enough to even retard materially the progress of Wilson's
cavalry. Selma fell on the 2d of April, with a large number of
prisoners and a large quantity of war material, machine shops, etc., to
be disposed of by the victors. Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and West Point
fell in quick succession. These were all important points to the enemy
by reason of their railroad connections, as depots of supplies, and
because of their manufactories of war material. They were fortified or
intrenched, and there was considerable fighting before they were
captured. Macon surrendered on the 21st of April. Here news was
received of the negotiations for the surrender of Johnston's army.
Wilson belonged to the military division commanded by Sherman, and of
course was bound by his terms. This stopped all fighting.

General Richard Taylor had now become the senior Confederate officer
still at liberty east of the Mississippi River, and on the 4th of May he
surrendered everything within the limits of this extensive command.
General E. Kirby Smith surrendered the trans-Mississippi department on
the 26th of May, leaving no other Confederate army at liberty to
continue the war.

Wilson's raid resulted in the capture of the fugitive president of the
defunct confederacy before he got out of the country. This occurred at
Irwinsville, Georgia, on the 11th of May. For myself, and I believe Mr.
Lincoln shared the feeling, I would have been very glad to have seen Mr.
Davis succeed in escaping, but for one reason: I feared that if not
captured, he might get into the trans-Mississippi region and there set
up a more contracted confederacy. The young men now out of homes and
out of employment might have rallied under his standard and protracted
the war yet another year. The Northern people were tired of the war,
they were tired of piling up a debt which would be a further mortgage
upon their homes.

Mr. Lincoln, I believe, wanted Mr. Davis to escape, because he did not
wish to deal with the matter of his punishment. He knew there would be
people clamoring for the punishment of the ex-Confederate president, for
high treason. He thought blood enough had already been spilled to atone
for our wickedness as a nation. At all events he did not wish to be the
judge to decide whether more should be shed or not. But his own life
was sacrificed at the hands of an assassin before the ex-president of
the Confederacy was a prisoner in the hands of the government which he
had lent all his talent and all his energies to destroy.

All things are said to be wisely directed, and for the best interest of
all concerned. This reflection does not, however, abate in the
slightest our sense of bereavement in the untimely loss of so good and
great a man as Abraham Lincoln.

He would have proven the best friend the South could have had, and saved
much of the wrangling and bitterness of feeling brought out by
reconstruction under a President who at first wished to revenge himself
upon Southern men of better social standing than himself, but who still
sought their recognition, and in a short time conceived the idea and
advanced the proposition to become their Moses to lead them triumphantly
out of all their difficulties.

The story of the legislation enacted during the reconstruction period to
stay the hands of the President is too fresh in the minds of the people
to be told now. Much of it, no doubt, was unconstitutional; but it was
hoped that the laws enacted would serve their purpose before the
question of constitutionality could be submitted to the judiciary and a
decision obtained. These laws did serve their purpose, and now remain "a
dead letter" upon the statute books of the United States, no one taking
interest enough in them to give them a passing thought.

Much was said at the time about the garb Mr. Davis was wearing when he
was captured. I cannot settle this question from personal knowledge of
the facts; but I have been under the belief, from information given to
me by General Wilson shortly after the event, that when Mr. Davis
learned that he was surrounded by our cavalry he was in his tent dressed
in a gentleman's dressing gown. Naturally enough, Mr. Davis wanted to
escape, and would not reflect much how this should be accomplished
provided it might be done successfully. If captured, he would be no
ordinary prisoner. He represented all there was of that hostility to
the government which had caused four years of the bloodiest war--and the
most costly in other respects of which history makes any record. Every
one supposed he would be tried for treason if captured, and that he
would be executed. Had he succeeded in making his escape in any
disguise it would have been adjudged a good thing afterwards by his

As my official letters on file in the War Department, as well as my
remarks in this book, reflect upon General Thomas by dwelling somewhat
upon his tardiness, it is due to myself, as well as to him, that I give
my estimate of him as a soldier. The same remark will apply also in the
case of General Canby. I had been at West Point with Thomas one year,
and had known him later in the old army. He was a man of commanding
appearance, slow and deliberate in speech and action; sensible, honest
and brave. He possessed valuable soldierly qualities in an eminent
degree. He gained the confidence of all who served under him, and
almost their love. This implies a very valuable quality. It is a
quality which calls out the most efficient services of the troops
serving under the commander possessing it.

Thomas's dispositions were deliberately made, and always good. He could
not be driven from a point he was given to hold. He was not as good,
however, in pursuit as he was in action. I do not believe that he could
ever have conducted Sherman's army from Chattanooga to Atlanta against
the defences and the commander guarding that line in 1864. On the other
hand, if it had been given him to hold the line which Johnston tried to
hold, neither that general nor Sherman, nor any other officer could have
done it better.

Thomas was a valuable officer, who richly deserved, as he has received,
the plaudits of his countrymen for the part he played in the great
tragedy of 1861-5.

General Canby was an officer of great merit. He was naturally studious,
and inclined to the law. There have been in the army but very few, if
any, officers who took as much interest in reading and digesting every
act of Congress and every regulation for the government of the army as
he. His knowledge gained in this way made him a most valuable staff
officer, a capacity in which almost all his army services were rendered
up to the time of his being assigned to the Military Division of the
Gulf. He was an exceedingly modest officer, though of great talent and
learning. I presume his feelings when first called upon to command a
large army against a fortified city, were somewhat like my own when
marching a regiment against General Thomas Harris in Missouri in 1861.
Neither of us would have felt the slightest trepidation in going into
battle with some one else commanding. Had Canby been in other
engagements afterwards, he would, I have no doubt, have advanced without
any fear arising from a sense of the responsibility. He was afterwards
killed in the lava beds of Southern Oregon, while in pursuit of the
hostile Modoc Indians. His character was as pure as his talent and
learning were great. His services were valuable during the war, but
principally as a bureau officer. I have no idea that it was from choice
that his services were rendered in an office, but because of his
superior efficiency there.



Things began to quiet down, and as the certainty that there would be no
more armed resistance became clearer, the troops in North Carolina and
Virginia were ordered to march immediately to the capital, and go into
camp there until mustered out. Suitable garrisons were left at the
prominent places throughout the South to insure obedience to the laws
that might be enacted for the government of the several States, and to
insure security to the lives and property of all classes. I do not know
how far this was necessary, but I deemed it necessary, at that time,
that such a course should be pursued. I think now that these garrisons
were continued after they ceased to be absolutely required; but it is
not to be expected that such a rebellion as was fought between the
sections from 1861 to 1865 could terminate without leaving many serious
apprehensions in the mind of the people as to what should be done.

Sherman marched his troops from Goldsboro, up to Manchester, on the
south side of the James River, opposite Richmond, and there put them in
camp, while he went back to Savannah to see what the situation was

It was during this trip that the last outrage was committed upon him.
Halleck had been sent to Richmond to command Virginia, and had issued
orders prohibiting even Sherman's own troops from obeying his,
Sherman's, orders. Sherman met the papers on his return, containing
this order of Halleck, and very justly felt indignant at the outrage.
On his arrival at Fortress Monroe returning from Savannah, Sherman
received an invitation from Halleck to come to Richmond and be his
guest. This he indignantly refused, and informed Halleck, furthermore,
that he had seen his order. He also stated that he was coming up to
take command of his troops, and as he marched through it would probably
be as well for Halleck not to show himself, because he (Sherman) would
not be responsible for what some rash person might do through
indignation for the treatment he had received. Very soon after that,
Sherman received orders from me to proceed to Washington City, and to go
into camp on the south side of the city pending the mustering-out of the

There was no incident worth noting in the march northward from
Goldsboro, to Richmond, or in that from Richmond to Washington City.
The army, however, commanded by Sherman, which had been engaged in all
the battles of the West and had marched from the Mississippi through the
Southern States to the sea, from there to Goldsboro, and thence to
Washington City, had passed over many of the battle-fields of the Army
of the Potomac, thus having seen, to a greater extent than any other
body of troops, the entire theatre of the four years' war for the
preservation of the Union.

The march of Sherman's army from Atlanta to the sea and north to
Goldsboro, while it was not accompanied with the danger that was
anticipated, yet was magnificent in its results, and equally magnificent
in the way it was conducted. It had an important bearing, in various
ways, upon the great object we had in view, that of closing the war.
All the States east of the Mississippi River up to the State of Georgia,
had felt the hardships of the war. Georgia, and South Carolina, and
almost all of North Carolina, up to this time, had been exempt from
invasion by the Northern armies, except upon their immediate sea coasts.
Their newspapers had given such an account of Confederate success, that
the people who remained at home had been convinced that the Yankees had
been whipped from first to last, and driven from pillar to post, and
that now they could hardly be holding out for any other purpose than to
find a way out of the war with honor to themselves.

Even during this march of Sherman's the newspapers in his front were
proclaiming daily that his army was nothing better than a mob of men who
were frightened out of their wits and hastening, panic-stricken, to try
to get under the cover of our navy for protection against the Southern
people. As the army was seen marching on triumphantly, however, the
minds of the people became disabused and they saw the true state of
affairs. In turn they became disheartened, and would have been glad to
submit without compromise.

Another great advantage resulting from this march, and which was
calculated to hasten the end, was the fact that the great storehouse of
Georgia was entirely cut off from the Confederate armies. As the troops
advanced north from Savannah, the destruction of the railroads in South
Carolina and the southern part of North Carolina, further cut off their
resources and left the armies still in Virginia and North Carolina
dependent for supplies upon a very small area of country, already very
much exhausted of food and forage.

In due time the two armies, one from Burkesville Junction and the other
from the neighborhood of Raleigh, North Carolina, arrived and went into
camp near the Capital, as directed. The troops were hardy, being inured
to fatigue, and they appeared in their respective camps as ready and fit
for duty as they had ever been in their lives. I doubt whether an equal
body of men of any nation, take them man for man, officer for officer,
was ever gotten together that would have proved their equal in a great

The armies of Europe are machines; the men are brave and the officers
capable; but the majority of the soldiers in most of the nations of
Europe are taken from a class of people who are not very intelligent and
who have very little interest in the contest in which they are called
upon to take part. Our armies were composed of men who were able to
read, men who knew what they were fighting for, and could not be induced
to serve as soldiers, except in an emergency when the safety of the
nation was involved, and so necessarily must have been more than equal
to men who fought merely because they were brave and because they were
thoroughly drilled and inured to hardships.

There was nothing of particular importance occurred during the time
these troops were in camp before starting North.

I remember one little incident which I will relate as an anecdote
characteristic of Mr. Lincoln. It occurred a day after I reached
Washington, and about the time General Meade reached Burkesville with
the army. Governor Smith of Virginia had left Richmond with the
Confederate States government, and had gone to Danville. Supposing I
was necessarily with the army at Burkesville, he addressed a letter to
me there informing me that, as governor of the Commonwealth of the State
of Virginia, he had temporarily removed the State capital from Richmond
to Danville, and asking if he would be permitted to perform the
functions of his office there without molestation by the Federal
authorities. I give this letter only in substance. He also inquired of
me whether in case he was not allowed to perform the duties of his
office, he with a few others might not be permitted to leave the country
and go abroad without interference. General Meade being informed that a
flag of truce was outside his pickets with a letter to me, at once sent
out and had the letter brought in without informing the officer who
brought it that I was not present. He read the letter and telegraphed
me its contents. Meeting Mr. Lincoln shortly after receiving this
dispatch, I repeated its contents to him. Mr. Lincoln, supposing I was
asking for instructions, said, in reply to that part of Governor Smith's
letter which inquired whether he with a few friends would be permitted
to leave the country unmolested, that his position was like that of a
certain Irishman (giving the name) he knew in Springfield who was very
popular with the people, a man of considerable promise, and very much
liked. Unfortunately he had acquired the habit of drinking, and his
friends could see that the habit was growing on him. These friends
determined to make an effort to save him, and to do this they drew up a
pledge to abstain from all alcoholic drinks. They asked Pat to join
them in signing the pledge, and he consented. He had been so long out
of the habit of using plain water as a beverage that he resorted to
soda-water as a substitute. After a few days this began to grow
distasteful to him. So holding the glass behind him, he said: "Doctor,
couldn't you drop a bit of brandy in that unbeknownst to myself."

I do not remember what the instructions were the President gave me, but
I know that Governor Smith was not permitted to perform the duties of
his office. I also know that if Mr. Lincoln had been spared, there
would have been no efforts made to prevent any one from leaving the
country who desired to do so. He would have been equally willing to
permit the return of the same expatriated citizens after they had time
to repent of their choice.

On the 18th of May orders were issued by the adjutant-general for a
grand review by the President and his cabinet of Sherman's and Meade's
armies. The review commenced on the 23d and lasted two days. Meade's
army occupied over six hours of the first day in passing the grand stand
which had been erected in front of the President's house. Sherman
witnessed this review from the grand stand which was occupied by the
President and his cabinet. Here he showed his resentment for the cruel
and harsh treatment that had unnecessarily been inflicted upon him by
the Secretary of War, by refusing to take his extended hand.

Sherman's troops had been in camp on the south side of the Potomac.
During the night of the 23d he crossed over and bivouacked not far from
the Capitol. Promptly at ten o'clock on the morning of the 24th, his
troops commenced to pass in review. Sherman's army made a different
appearance from that of the Army of the Potomac. The latter had been
operating where they received directly from the North full supplies of
food and clothing regularly: the review of this army therefore was the
review of a body of 65,000 well-drilled, well-disciplined and orderly
soldiers inured to hardship and fit for any duty, but without the
experience of gathering their own food and supplies in an enemy's
country, and of being ever on the watch. Sherman's army was not so
well-dressed as the Army of the Potomac, but their marching could not
be excelled; they gave the appearance of men who had been thoroughly
drilled to endure hardships, either by long and continuous marches or
through exposure to any climate, without the ordinary shelter of a camp.
They exhibited also some of the order of march through Georgia where the
"sweet potatoes sprung up from the ground" as Sherman's army went
marching through. In the rear of a company there would be a captured
horse or mule loaded with small cooking utensils, captured chickens and
other food picked up for the use of the men. Negro families who had
followed the army would sometimes come along in the rear of a company,
with three or four children packed upon a single mule, and the mother
leading it.

The sight was varied and grand: nearly all day for two successive days,
from the Capitol to the Treasury Building, could be seen a mass of
orderly soldiers marching in columns of companies. The National flag
was flying from almost every house and store; the windows were filled
with spectators; the door-steps and side-walks were crowded with colored
people and poor whites who did not succeed in securing better quarters
from which to get a view of the grand armies. The city was about as
full of strangers who had come to see the sights as it usually is on
inauguration day when a new President takes his seat.

It may not be out of place to again allude to President Lincoln and the
Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, who were the great conspicuous figures in
the executive branch of the government. There is no great difference of
opinion now, in the public mind, as to the characteristics of the
President. With Mr. Stanton the case is different. They were the very
opposite of each other in almost every particular, except that each
possessed great ability. Mr. Lincoln gained influence over men by
making them feel that it was a pleasure to serve him. He preferred
yielding his own wish to gratify others, rather than to insist upon
having his own way. It distressed him to disappoint others. In matters
of public duty, however, he had what he wished, but in the least
offensive way. Mr. Stanton never questioned his own authority to
command, unless resisted. He cared nothing for the feeling of others.
In fact it seemed to be pleasanter to him to disappoint than to gratify.
He felt no hesitation in assuming the functions of the executive, or in
acting without advising with him. If his act was not sustained, he
would change it--if he saw the matter would be followed up until he did

It was generally supposed that these two officials formed the complement
of each other. The Secretary was required to prevent the President's
being imposed upon. The President was required in the more responsible
place of seeing that injustice was not done to others. I do not know
that this view of these two men is still entertained by the majority of
the people. It is not a correct view, however, in my estimation. Mr.
Lincoln did not require a guardian to aid him in the fulfilment of a
public trust.

Mr. Lincoln was not timid, and he was willing to trust his generals in
making and executing their plans. The Secretary was very timid, and it
was impossible for him to avoid interfering with the armies covering the
capital when it was sought to defend it by an offensive movement against
the army guarding the Confederate capital. He could see our weakness,
but he could not see that the enemy was in danger. The enemy would not
have been in danger if Mr. Stanton had been in the field. These
characteristics of the two officials were clearly shown shortly after
Early came so near getting into the capital.

Among the army and corps commanders who served with me during the war
between the States, and who attracted much public attention, but of
whose ability as soldiers I have not yet given any estimate, are Meade,
Hancock, Sedgwick, Burnside, Terry and Hooker. There were others of
great merit, such as Griffin, Humphreys, Wright and Mackenzie. Of those
first named, Burnside at one time had command of the Army of the
Potomac, and later of the Army of the Ohio. Hooker also commanded the
Army of the Potomac for a short time.

General Meade was an officer of great merit, with drawbacks to his
usefulness that were beyond his control. He had been an officer of the
engineer corps before the war, and consequently had never served with
troops until he was over forty-six years of age. He never had, I
believe, a command of less than a brigade. He saw clearly and
distinctly the position of the enemy, and the topography of the country
in front of his own position. His first idea was to take advantage of
the lay of the ground, sometimes without reference to the direction we
wanted to move afterwards. He was subordinate to his superiors in rank
to the extent that he could execute an order which changed his own plans
with the same zeal he would have displayed if the plan had been his own.
He was brave and conscientious, and commanded the respect of all who
knew him. He was unfortunately of a temper that would get beyond his
control, at times, and make him speak to officers of high rank in the
most offensive manner. No one saw this fault more plainly than he
himself, and no one regretted it more. This made it unpleasant at
times, even in battle, for those around him to approach him even with
information. In spite of this defect he was a most valuable officer and
deserves a high place in the annals of his country.

General Burnside was an officer who was generally liked and respected.
He was not, however, fitted to command an army. No one knew this better
than himself. He always admitted his blunders, and extenuated those of
officers under him beyond what they were entitled to. It was hardly his
fault that he was ever assigned to a separate command.

Of Hooker I saw but little during the war. I had known him very well
before, however. Where I did see him, at Chattanooga, his achievement
in bringing his command around the point of Lookout Mountain and into
Chattanooga Valley was brilliant. I nevertheless regarded him as a
dangerous man. He was not subordinate to his superiors. He was
ambitious to the extent of caring nothing for the rights of others. His
disposition was, when engaged in battle, to get detached from the main
body of the army and exercise a separate command, gathering to his
standard all he could of his juniors.

Hancock stands the most conspicuous figure of all the general officers
who did not exercise a separate command. He commanded a corps longer
than any other one, and his name was never mentioned as having committed
in battle a blunder for which he was responsible. He was a man of very
conspicuous personal appearance. Tall, well-formed and, at the time of
which I now write, young and fresh-looking, he presented an appearance
that would attract the attention of an army as he passed. His genial
disposition made him friends, and his personal courage and his presence
with his command in the thickest of the fight won for him the confidence
of troops serving under him. No matter how hard the fight, the 2d corps
always felt that their commander was looking after them.

Sedgwick was killed at Spottsylvania before I had an opportunity of
forming an estimate of his qualifications as a soldier from personal
observation. I had known him in Mexico when both of us were
lieutenants, and when our service gave no indication that either of us
would ever be equal to the command of a brigade. He stood very high in
the army, however, as an officer and a man. He was brave and
conscientious. His ambition was not great, and he seemed to dread
responsibility. He was willing to do any amount of battling, but always
wanted some one else to direct. He declined the command of the Army of
the Potomac once, if not oftener.

General Alfred H. Terry came into the army as a volunteer without a
military education. His way was won without political influence up to
an important separate command--the expedition against Fort Fisher, in
January, 1865. His success there was most brilliant, and won for him
the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army and of major-general
of volunteers. He is a man who makes friends of those under him by his
consideration of their wants and their dues. As a commander, he won
their confidence by his coolness in action and by his clearness of
perception in taking in the situation under which he was placed at any
given time.

Griffin, Humphreys, and Mackenzie were good corps commanders, but came
into that position so near to the close of the war as not to attract
public attention. All three served as such, in the last campaign of the
armies of the Potomac and the James, which culminated at Appomattox
Court House, on the 9th of April, 1865. The sudden collapse of the
rebellion monopolized attention to the exclusion of almost everything
else. I regarded Mackenzie as the most promising young officer in the
army. Graduating at West Point, as he did, during the second year of
the war, he had won his way up to the command of a corps before its
close. This he did upon his own merit and without influence.


The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United Status
will have to be attributed to slavery. For some years before the war
began it was a trite saying among some politicians that "A state half
slave and half free cannot exist." All must become slave or all free,
or the state will go down. I took no part myself in any such view of
the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole
question, I have come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.

Slavery was an institution that required unusual guarantees for its
security wherever it existed; and in a country like ours where the
larger portion of it was free territory inhabited by an intelligent and
well-to-do population, the people would naturally have but little
sympathy with demands upon them for its protection. Hence the people of
the South were dependent upon keeping control of the general government
to secure the perpetuation of their favorite institution. They were
enabled to maintain this control long after the States where slavery
existed had ceased to have the controlling power, through the assistance
they received from odd men here and there throughout the Northern
States. They saw their power waning, and this led them to encroach upon
the prerogatives and independence of the Northern States by enacting
such laws as the Fugitive Slave Law. By this law every Northern man
was obliged, when properly summoned, to turn out and help apprehend
the runaway slave of a Southern man. Northern marshals became
slave-catchers, and Northern courts had to contribute to the support
and protection of the institution.

This was a degradation which the North would not permit any longer than
until they could get the power to expunge such laws from the statute
books. Prior to the time of these encroachments the great majority of
the people of the North had no particular quarrel with slavery, so long
as they were not forced to have it themselves. But they were not
willing to play the role of police for the South in the protection of
this particular institution.

In the early days of the country, before we had railroads, telegraphs
and steamboats--in a word, rapid transit of any sort--the States were
each almost a separate nationality. At that time the subject of slavery
caused but little or no disturbance to the public mind. But the country
grew, rapid transit was established, and trade and commerce between the
States got to be so much greater than before, that the power of the
National government became more felt and recognized and, therefore, had
to be enlisted in the cause of this institution.

It is probably well that we had the war when we did. We are better off
now than we would have been without it, and have made more rapid
progress than we otherwise should have made. The civilized nations of
Europe have been stimulated into unusual activity, so that commerce,
trade, travel, and thorough acquaintance among people of different
nationalities, has become common; whereas, before, it was but the few
who had ever had the privilege of going beyond the limits of their own
country or who knew anything about other people. Then, too, our
republican institutions were regarded as experiments up to the breaking
out of the rebellion, and monarchical Europe generally believed that our
republic was a rope of sand that would part the moment the slightest
strain was brought upon it. Now it has shown itself capable of dealing
with one of the greatest wars that was ever made, and our people have
proven themselves to be the most formidable in war of any nationality.

But this war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of
avoiding wars in the future.

The conduct of some of the European states during our troubles shows the
lack of conscience of communities where the responsibility does not come
upon a single individual. Seeing a nation that extended from ocean to
ocean, embracing the better part of a continent, growing as we were
growing in population, wealth and intelligence, the European nations
thought it would be well to give us a check. We might, possibly, after
a while threaten their peace, or, at least, the perpetuity of their
institutions. Hence, England was constantly finding fault with the
administration at Washington because we were not able to keep up an
effective blockade. She also joined, at first, with France and Spain in
setting up an Austrian prince upon the throne in Mexico, totally
disregarding any rights or claims that Mexico had of being treated as an
independent power. It is true they trumped up grievances as a pretext,
but they were only pretexts which can always be found when wanted.

Mexico, in her various revolutions, had been unable to give that
protection to the subjects of foreign nations which she would have liked
to give, and some of her revolutionary leaders had forced loans from
them. Under pretence of protecting their citizens, these nations seized
upon Mexico as a foothold for establishing a European monarchy upon our
continent, thus threatening our peace at home. I, myself, regarded this
as a direct act of war against the United States by the powers engaged,
and supposed as a matter of course that the United States would treat it
as such when their hands were free to strike. I often spoke of the
matter to Mr. Lincoln and the Secretary of War, but never heard any
special views from them to enable me to judge what they thought or felt
about it. I inferred that they felt a good deal as I did, but were
unwilling to commit themselves while we had our own troubles upon our

All of the powers except France very soon withdrew from the armed
intervention for the establishment of an Austrian prince upon the throne
of Mexico; but the governing people of these countries continued to the
close of the war to throw obstacles in our way. After the surrender of
Lee, therefore, entertaining the opinion here expressed, I sent Sheridan
with a corps to the Rio Grande to have him where he might aid Juarez in
expelling the French from Mexico. These troops got off before they
could be stopped; and went to the Rio Grande, where Sheridan distributed
them up and down the river, much to the consternation of the troops in
the quarter of Mexico bordering on that stream. This soon led to a
request from France that we should withdraw our troops from the Rio
Grande and to negotiations for the withdrawal of theirs. Finally
Bazaine was withdrawn from Mexico by order of the French Government.
From that day the empire began to totter. Mexico was then able to
maintain her independence without aid from us.

France is the traditional ally and friend of the United States. I did
not blame France for her part in the scheme to erect a monarchy upon the
ruins of the Mexican Republic. That was the scheme of one man, an
imitator without genius or merit. He had succeeded in stealing the
government of his country, and made a change in its form against the
wishes and instincts of his people. He tried to play the part of the
first Napoleon, without the ability to sustain that role. He sought by
new conquests to add to his empire and his glory; but the signal failure
of his scheme of conquest was the precursor of his own overthrow.

Like our own war between the States, the Franco-Prussian war was an
expensive one; but it was worth to France all it cost her people. It
was the completion of the downfall of Napoleon III. The beginning was
when he landed troops on this continent. Failing here, the prestige of
his name--all the prestige he ever had--was gone. He must achieve a
success or fall. He tried to strike down his neighbor, Prussia--and

I never admired the character of the first Napoleon; but I recognize his
great genius. His work, too, has left its impress for good on the face
of Europe. The third Napoleon could have no claim to having done a good
or just act.

To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war.
There can scarcely be a possible chance of a conflict, such as the last
one, occurring among our own people again; but, growing as we are, in
population, wealth and military power, we may become the envy of nations
which led us in all these particulars only a few years ago; and unless
we are prepared for it we may be in danger of a combined movement being
some day made to crush us out. Now, scarcely twenty years after the
war, we seem to have forgotten the lessons it taught, and are going on
as if in the greatest security, without the power to resist an invasion
by the fleets of fourth-rate European powers for a time until we could
prepare for them.

We should have a good navy, and our sea-coast defences should be put in
the finest possible condition. Neither of these cost much when it is
considered where the money goes, and what we get in return. Money
expended in a fine navy, not only adds to our security and tends to
prevent war in the future, but is very material aid to our commerce with
foreign nations in the meantime. Money spent upon sea-coast defences is
spent among our own people, and all goes back again among the people.
The work accomplished, too, like that of the navy, gives us a feeling of

England's course towards the United States during the rebellion
exasperated the people of this country very much against the mother
country. I regretted it. England and the United States are natural
allies, and should be the best of friends. They speak one language, and
are related by blood and other ties. We together, or even either
separately, are better qualified than any other people to establish
commerce between all the nationalities of the world.

England governs her own colonies, and particularly those embracing
the people of different races from her own, better than any other
nation. She is just to the conquered, but rigid. She makes them
self-supporting, but gives the benefit of labor to the laborer. She
does not seem to look upon the colonies as outside possessions which she
is at liberty to work for the support and aggrandizement of the home

The hostility of England to the United States during our rebellion was
not so much real as it was apparent. It was the hostility of the
leaders of one political party. I am told that there was no time during
the civil war when they were able to get up in England a demonstration
in favor of secession, while these were constantly being gotten up in
favor of the Union, or, as they called it, in favor of the North. Even
in Manchester, which suffered so fearfully by having the cotton cut off
from her mills, they had a monster demonstration in favor of the North
at the very time when their workmen were almost famishing.

It is possible that the question of a conflict between races may come up
in the future, as did that between freedom and slavery before. The
condition of the colored man within our borders may become a source of
anxiety, to say the least. But he was brought to our shores by
compulsion, and he now should be considered as having as good a right to
remain here as any other class of our citizens. It was looking to a
settlement of this question that led me to urge the annexation of Santo
Domingo during the time I was President of the United States.

Santo Domingo was freely offered to us, not only by the administration,
but by all the people, almost without price. The island is upon our
shores, is very fertile, and is capable of supporting fifteen millions
of people. The products of the soil are so valuable that labor in her
fields would be so compensated as to enable those who wished to go there
to quickly repay the cost of their passage. I took it that the colored
people would go there in great numbers, so as to have independent states
governed by their own race. They would still be States of the Union,
and under the protection of the General Government; but the citizens
would be almost wholly colored.

By the war with Mexico, we had acquired, as we have seen, territory
almost equal in extent to that we already possessed. It was seen that
the volunteers of the Mexican war largely composed the pioneers to
settle up the Pacific coast country. Their numbers, however, were
scarcely sufficient to be a nucleus for the population of the important
points of the territory acquired by that war. After our rebellion, when
so many young men were at liberty to return to their homes, they found
they were not satisfied with the farm, the store, or the work-shop of
the villages, but wanted larger fields. The mines of the mountains
first attracted them; but afterwards they found that rich valleys and
productive grazing and farming lands were there. This territory, the
geography of which was not known to us at the close of the rebellion, is
now as well mapped as any portion of our country. Railroads traverse it
in every direction, north, south, east, and west. The mines are worked.
The high lands are used for grazing purposes, and rich agricultural
lands are found in many of the valleys. This is the work of the
volunteer. It is probable that the Indians would have had control of
these lands for a century yet but for the war. We must conclude,
therefore, that wars are not always evils unmixed with some good.

Prior to the rebellion the great mass of the people were satisfied to
remain near the scenes of their birth. In fact an immense majority of
the whole people did not feel secure against coming to want should they
move among entire strangers. So much was the country divided into small
communities that localized idioms had grown up, so that you could almost
tell what section a person was from by hearing him speak. Before, new
territories were settled by a "class"; people who shunned contact with
others; people who, when the country began to settle up around them,
would push out farther from civilization. Their guns furnished meat,
and the cultivation of a very limited amount of the soil, their bread
and vegetables. All the streams abounded with fish. Trapping would
furnish pelts to be brought into the States once a year, to pay for
necessary articles which they could not raise--powder, lead, whiskey,
tobacco and some store goods. Occasionally some little articles of
luxury would enter into these purchases--a quarter of a pound of tea,
two or three pounds of coffee, more of sugar, some playing cards, and if
anything was left over of the proceeds of the sale, more whiskey.

Little was known of the topography of the country beyond the settlements
of these frontiersmen. This is all changed now. The war begot a spirit
of independence and enterprise. The feeling now is, that a youth must
cut loose from his old surroundings to enable him to get up in the
world. There is now such a commingling of the people that particular
idioms and pronunciation are no longer localized to any great extent;
the country has filled up "from the centre all around to the sea";
railroads connect the two oceans and all parts of the interior; maps,
nearly perfect, of every part of the country are now furnished the
student of geography.

The war has made us a nation of great power and intelligence. We have
but little to do to preserve peace, happiness and prosperity at home,
and the respect of other nations. Our experience ought to teach us the
necessity of the first; our power secures the latter.

I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great
harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a
living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within
me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me
at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed
to me the beginning of the answer to "Let us have peace."

The expression of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section
of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from
individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations--the
Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of
the land--scientific, educational, religious or otherwise. Politics did
not enter into the matter at all.

I am not egotist enough to suppose all this significance should be given
because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a
very bloody and a very costly war. One side or the other had to yield
principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an
end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious
side. I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative
of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying
fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous
move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end.




HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations
of the Armies of the United States from the date of my appointment to
command the same.

From an early period in the rebellion I had been impressed with the idea
that active and continuous operations of all the troops that could be
brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary
to a speedy termination of the war. The resources of the enemy and his
numerical strength were far inferior to ours; but as an offset to this,
we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the government, to
garrison, and long lines of river and railroad communications to
protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies.

The armies in the East and West acted independently and without concert,
like a balky team, no two ever pulling together, enabling the enemy to
use to great advantage his interior lines of communication for
transporting troops from East to West, reinforcing the army most
vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of
inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of
producing, for the support of their armies. It was a question whether
our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by
these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.

From the first, I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had
that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both
North and South, until the military power of the rebellion was entirely

I therefore determined, first, to use the greatest number of troops
practicable against the armed force of the enemy; preventing him from
using the same force at different seasons against first one and then
another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and
producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance. Second, to
hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his
resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be
nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of
our common country to the constitution and laws of the land.

These views have been kept constantly in mind, and orders given and
campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better
in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of
friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I
can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the
best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests
of the whole country.

At the date when this report begins, the situation of the contending
forces was about as follows: The Mississippi River was strongly
garrisoned by Federal troops, from St. Louis, Missouri, to its mouth.
The line of the Arkansas was also held, thus giving us armed possession
of all west of the Mississippi, north of that stream. A few points in
Southern Louisiana, not remote from the river, were held by us, together
with a small garrison at and near the mouth of the Rio Grande. All the
balance of the vast territory of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas was in
the almost undisputed possession of the enemy, with an army of probably
not less than eighty thousand effective men, that could have been
brought into the field had there been sufficient opposition to have
brought them out. The let-alone policy had demoralized this force so
that probably but little more than one-half of it was ever present in
garrison at any one time. But the one-half, or forty thousand men, with
the bands of guerillas scattered through Missouri, Arkansas, and along
the Mississippi River, and the disloyal character of much of the
population, compelled the use of a large number of troops to keep
navigation open on the river, and to protect the loyal people to the
west of it. To the east of the Mississippi we held substantially with
the line of the Tennessee and Holston rivers, running eastward to
include nearly all of the State of Tennessee. South of Chattanooga, a
small foothold had been obtained in Georgia, sufficient to protect East
Tennessee from incursions from the enemy's force at Dalton, Georgia.
West Virginia was substantially within our lines. Virginia, with the
exception of the northern border, the Potomac River, a small area about
the mouth of James River, covered by the troops at Norfolk and Fort
Monroe, and the territory covered by the Army of the Potomac lying along
the Rapidan, was in the possession of the enemy. Along the sea-coast
footholds had been obtained at Plymouth, Washington, and New Bern, in
North Carolina; Beaufort, Folly and Morris Islands, Hilton Head, Fort
Pulaski, and Port Royal, in South Carolina; Fernandina and St.
Augustine, in Florida. Key West and Pensacola were also in our
possession, while all the important ports were blockaded by the navy.
The accompanying map, a copy of which was sent to General Sherman and
other commanders in March, 1864, shows by red lines the territory
occupied by us at the beginning of the rebellion, and at the opening of
the campaign of 1864, while those in blue are the lines which it was
proposed to occupy.

Behind the Union lines there were many bands of guerillas and a large
population disloyal to the government, making it necessary to guard
every foot of road or river used in supplying our armies. In the South,
a reign of military despotism prevailed, which made every man and boy
capable of bearing arms a soldier; and those who could not bear arms in
the field acted as provosts for collecting deserters and returning them.
This enabled the enemy to bring almost his entire strength into the

The enemy had concentrated the bulk of his forces east of the
Mississippi into two armies, commanded by Generals R. E. Lee and J. E.
Johnston, his ablest and best generals. The army commanded by Lee
occupied the south bank of the Rapidan, extending from Mine Run
westward, strongly intrenched, covering and defending Richmond, the
rebel capital, against the Army of the Potomac. The army under Johnston
occupied a strongly intrenched position at Dalton, Georgia, covering and
defending Atlanta, Georgia, a place of great importance as a railroad
centre, against the armies under Major-General W. T. Sherman. In
addition to these armies he had a large cavalry force under Forrest, in
North-east Mississippi; a considerable force, of all arms, in the
Shenandoah Valley, and in the western part of Virginia and extreme
eastern part of Tennessee; and also confronting our sea-coast garrisons,
and holding blockaded ports where we had no foothold upon land.

These two armies, and the cities covered and defended by them, were the
main objective points of the campaign.

Major-General W. T. Sherman, who was appointed to the command of the
Military Division of the Mississippi, embracing all the armies and
territory east of the Mississippi River to the Alleghanies and the
Department of Arkansas, west of the Mississippi, had the immediate
command of the armies operating against Johnston.

Major-General George G. Meade had the immediate command of the Army of
the Potomac, from where I exercised general supervision of the movements
of all our armies.

General Sherman was instructed to move against Johnston's army, to break
it up, and to go into the interior of the enemy's country as far as he
could, inflicting all the damage he could upon their war resources. If
the enemy in his front showed signs of joining Lee, to follow him up to
the full extent of his ability, while I would prevent the concentration
of Lee upon him, if it was in the power of the Army of the Potomac to do
so. More specific written instructions were not given, for the reason
that I had talked over with him the plans of the campaign, and was
satisfied that he understood them and would execute them to the fullest
extent possible.

Major-General N. P. Banks, then on an expedition up Red River against
Shreveport, Louisiana (which had been organized previous to my
appointment to command), was notified by me on the 15th of March, of the
importance it was that Shreveport should be taken at the earliest
possible day, and that if he found that the taking of it would occupy
from ten to fifteen days' more time than General Sherman had given his
troops to be absent from their command, he would send them back at the
time specified by General Sherman, even if it led to the abandonment of
the main object of the Red River expedition, for this force was
necessary to movements east of the Mississippi; that should his
expedition prove successful, he would hold Shreveport and the Red River
with such force as he might deem necessary, and return the balance of
his troops to the neighborhood of New Orleans, commencing no move for
the further acquisition of territory, unless it was to make that then
held by him more easily held; that it might be a part of the spring
campaign to move against Mobile; that it certainly would be, if troops
enough could be obtained to make it without embarrassing other
movements; that New Orleans would be the point of departure for such an
expedition; also, that I had directed General Steele to make a real move
from Arkansas, as suggested by him (General Banks), instead of a
demonstration, as Steele thought advisable.

On the 31st of March, in addition to the foregoing notification and
directions, he was instructed as follows:

"1st. If successful in your expedition against Shreveport, that you
turn over the defence of the Red River to General Steele and the navy.

"2d. That you abandon Texas entirely, with the exception of your hold
upon the Rio Grande. This can be held with four thousand men, if they
will turn their attention immediately to fortifying their positions. At
least one-half of the force required for this service might be taken
from the colored troops.

"3d. By properly fortifying on the Mississippi River, the force to
guard it from Port Hudson to New Orleans can be reduced to ten thousand
men, if not to a less number. Six thousand more would then hold all the
rest of the territory necessary to hold until active operations can
again be resumed west of the river. According to your last return, this
would give you a force of over thirty thousand effective men with which
to move against Mobile. To this I expect to add five thousand men from
Missouri. If however, you think the force here stated too small to hold
the territory regarded as necessary to hold possession of, I would say
concentrate at least twenty-five thousand men of your present command
for operations against Mobile. With these and such additions as I can
give you from elsewhere, lose no time in making a demonstration, to be
followed by an attack upon Mobile. Two or more iron-clads will be
ordered to report to Admiral Farragut. This gives him a strong naval
fleet with which to co-operate. You can make your own arrangements with
the admiral for his co-operation, and select your own line of approach.
My own idea of the matter is that Pascagoula should be your base; but,
from your long service in the Gulf Department, you will know best about
the matter. It is intended that your movements shall be co-operative
with movements elsewhere, and you cannot now start too soon. All I
would now add is, that you commence the concentration of your forces at
once. Preserve a profound secrecy of what you intend doing, and start
at the earliest possible moment.

"U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

Major-General Meade was instructed that Lee's army would be his
objective point; that wherever Lee went he would go also. For his
movement two plans presented themselves: One to cross the Rapidan below
Lee, moving by his right flank; the other above, moving by his left.
Each presented advantages over the other, with corresponding objections.
By crossing above, Lee would be cut off from all chance of ignoring
Richmond or going north on a raid. But if we took this route, all we
did would have to be done whilst the rations we started with held out;
besides, it separated us from Butler, so that he could not be directed
how to cooperate. If we took the other route, Brandy Station could be
used as a base of supplies until another was secured on the York or
James rivers. Of these, however, it was decided to take the lower

The following letter of instruction was addressed to Major-General B. F.

"FORT MONROE, VIRGINIA, April 2, 1864.

"GENERAL:-In the spring campaign, which it is desirable shall commence
at as early a day as practicable, it is proposed to have cooperative
action of all the armies in the field, as far as this object can be

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

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

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

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

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

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

"U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

On the 16th these instructions were substantially reiterated. On the
19th, in order to secure full co-operation between his army and that of
General Meade, he was informed that I expected him to move from Fort
Monroe the same day that General Meade moved from Culpeper. The exact
time I was to telegraph him as soon as it was fixed, and that it would
not be earlier than the 27th of April; that it was my intention to fight
Lee between Culpeper and Richmond, if he would stand. Should he,
however, fall back into Richmond, I would follow up and make a junction
with his (General Butler's) army on the James River; that, could I be
certain he would be able to invest Richmond on the south side, so as to
have his left resting on the James, above the city, I would form the
junction there; that circumstances might make this course advisable
anyhow; that he should use every exertion to secure footing as far up
the south side of the river as he could, and as soon as possible after
the receipt of orders to move; that if he could not carry the city, he
should at least detain as large a force there as possible.

In co-operation with the main movements against Lee and Johnston, I was
desirous of using all other troops necessarily kept in departments
remote from the fields of immediate operations, and also those kept in
the background for the protection of our extended lines between the
loyal States and the armies operating against them.

A very considerable force, under command of Major-General Sigel, was so
held for the protection of West Virginia, and the frontiers of Maryland
and Pennsylvania. Whilst these troops could not be withdrawn to distant
fields without exposing the North to invasion by comparatively small
bodies of the enemy, they could act directly to their front, and give
better protection than if lying idle in garrison. By such a movement
they would either compel the enemy to detach largely for the protection
of his supplies and lines of communication, or he would lose them.
General Sigel was therefore directed to organize all his available force
into two expeditions, to move from Beverly and Charleston, under command
of Generals Ord and Crook, against the East Tennessee and Virginia
Railroad. Subsequently, General Ord having been relieved at his own
request, General Sigel was instructed at his own suggestion, to give up
the expedition by Beverly, and to form two columns, one under General
Crook, on the Kanawha, numbering about ten thousand men, and one on the
Shenandoah, numbering about seven thousand men. The one on the
Shenandoah to assemble between Cumberland and the Shenandoah, and the
infantry and artillery advanced to Cedar Creek with such cavalry as
could be made available at the moment, to threaten the enemy in the
Shenandoah Valley, and advance as far as possible; while General Crook
would take possession of Lewisburg with part of his force and move down
the Tennessee Railroad, doing as much damage as he could, destroying the
New River Bridge and the salt-works, at Saltville, Va.

Owing to the weather and bad condition of the roads, operations were
delayed until the 1st of May, when, everything being in readiness and
the roads favorable, orders were given for a general movement of all the
armies not later than the 4th of May.

My first object being to break the military power of the rebellion, and
capture the enemy's important strongholds, made me desirous that General
Butler should succeed in his movement against Richmond, as that would
tend more than anything else, unless it were the capture of Lee's army,
to accomplish this desired result in the East. If he failed, it was my
determination, by hard fighting, either to compel Lee to retreat, or to
so cripple him that he could not detach a large force to go north, and
still retain enough for the defence of Richmond. It was well
understood, by both Generals Butler and Meade, before starting on the
campaign, that it was my intention to put both their armies south of the
James River, in case of failure to destroy Lee without it.

Before giving General Butler his instructions, I visited him at Fort
Monroe, and in conversation pointed out the apparent importance of
getting possession of Petersburg, and destroying railroad communication
as far south as possible. Believing, however, in the practicability of
capturing Richmond unless it was reinforced, I made that the objective
point of his operations. As the Army of the Potomac was to move
simultaneously with him, Lee could not detach from his army with safety,
and the enemy did not have troops elsewhere to bring to the defence of
the city in time to meet a rapid movement from the north of James River.

I may here state that, commanding all the armies as I did, I tried, as
far as possible, to leave General Meade in independent command of the
Army of the Potomac. My instructions for that army were all through
him, and were general in their nature, leaving all the details and the
execution to him. The campaigns that followed proved him to be the
right man in the right place. His commanding always in the presence of
an officer superior to him in rank, has drawn from him much of that
public attention that his zeal and ability entitle him to, and which he
would otherwise have received.

The movement of the Army of the Potomac commenced early on the morning
of the 4th of May, under the immediate direction and orders of
Major-General Meade, pursuant to instructions. Before night, the whole
army was across the Rapidan (the fifth and sixth corps crossing at
Germania Ford, and the second corps at Ely's Ford, the cavalry, under
Major-General Sheridan, moving in advance,) with the greater part of its
trains, numbering about four thousand wagons, meeting with but slight
opposition. The average distance travelled by the troops that day was
about twelve miles. This I regarded as a great success, and it removed
from my mind the most serious apprehensions I had entertained, that of
crossing the river in the face of an active, large, well-appointed, and
ably commanded army, and how so large a train was to be carried through
a hostile country, and protected. Early on the 5th, the advance corps
(the fifth, Major-General G. K. Warren commanding) met and engaged the
enemy outside his intrenchments near Mine Run. The battle raged
furiously all day, the whole army being brought into the fight as fast
as the corps could be got upon the field, which, considering the density
of the forest and narrowness of the roads, was done with commendable

General Burnside, with the ninth corps, was, at the time the Army of the
Potomac moved, left with the bulk of his corps at the crossing of the
Rappahannock River and Alexandria Railroad, holding the road back to
Bull Run, with instructions not to move until he received notice that a
crossing of the Rapidan was secured, but to move promptly as soon as
such notice was received. This crossing he was apprised of on the
afternoon of the 4th. By six o'clock of the morning of the 6th he was
leading his corps into action near the Wilderness Tavern, some of his
troops having marched a distance of over thirty miles, crossing both the
Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. Considering that a large proportion,
probably two-thirds of his command, was composed of new troops,
unaccustomed to marches, and carrying the accoutrements of a soldier,
this was a remarkable march.

The battle of the Wilderness was renewed by us at five o'clock on the
morning of the 6th, and continued with unabated fury until darkness set
in, each army holding substantially the same position that they had on
the evening of the 5th. After dark, the enemy made a feeble attempt to
turn our right flank, capturing several hundred prisoners and creating
considerable confusion. But the promptness of General Sedgwick, who was
personally present and commanded that part of our line, soon reformed it
and restored order. On the morning of the 7th, reconnoissances showed
that the enemy had fallen behind his intrenched lines, with pickets to
the front, covering a part of the battle-field. From this it was
evident to my mind that the two days' fighting had satisfied him of his
inability to further maintain the contest in the open field,
notwithstanding his advantage of position, and that he would wait an
attack behind his works. I therefore determined to push on and put my
whole force between him and Richmond; and orders were at once issued for
a movement by his right flank. On the night of the 7th, the march was
commenced towards Spottsylvania Court House, the fifth corps moving on
the most direct road. But the enemy having become apprised of our
movement, and having the shorter line, was enabled to reach there first.
On the 8th, General Warren met a force of the enemy, which had been sent
out to oppose and delay his advance, to gain time to fortify the line
taken up at Spottsylvania. This force was steadily driven back on the
main force, within the recently constructed works, after considerable
fighting, resulting in severe loss to both sides. On the morning of the
9th, General Sheridan started on a raid against the enemy's lines of
communication with Richmond. The 9th, 10th, and 11th were spent in
manoeuvring and fighting, without decisive results. Among the killed on
the 9th was that able and distinguished soldier Major-General John
Sedgwick, commanding the sixth army corps. Major-General H. G. Wright
succeeded him in command. Early on the morning of the 12th a general
attack was made on the enemy in position. The second corps,
Major-General Hancock commanding, carried a salient of his line,
capturing most of Johnson's division of Ewell's corps and twenty pieces
of artillery. But the resistance was so obstinate that the advantage
gained did not prove decisive. The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and
18th, were consumed in manoeuvring and awaiting the arrival of
reinforcements from Washington. Deeming it impracticable to make any
further attack upon the enemy at Spottsylvania Court House, orders were
issued on the 15th with a view to a movement to the North Anna, to
commence at twelve o'clock on the night of the 19th. Late in the
afternoon of the 19th, Ewell's corps came out of its works on our
extreme right flank; but the attack was promptly repulsed, with heavy
loss. This delayed the movement to the North Anna until the night of the
21st, when it was commenced. But the enemy again, having the shorter
line, and being in possession of the main roads, was enabled to reach
the North Anna in advance of us, and took position behind it. The fifth
corps reached the North Anna on the afternoon of the 23d, closely
followed by the sixth corps. The second and ninth corps got up about the
same time, the second holding the railroad bridge, and the ninth lying
between that and Jericho Ford. General Warren effected a crossing the
same afternoon, and got a position without much opposition. Soon after
getting into position he was violently attacked, but repulsed the enemy
with great slaughter. On the 25th, General Sheridan rejoined the Army
of the Potomac from the raid on which he started from Spottsylvania,
having destroyed the depots at Beaver Dam and Ashland stations, four
trains of cars, large supplies of rations, and many miles of
railroad-track; recaptured about four hundred of our men on their way to
Richmond as prisoners of war; met and defeated the enemy's cavalry at
Yellow Tavern; carried the first line of works around Richmond (but
finding the second line too strong to be carried by assault), recrossed
to the north bank of the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge under heavy fire,
and moved by a detour to Haxall's Landing, on the James River, where he
communicated with General Butler. This raid had the effect of drawing
off the whole of the enemy's cavalry force, making it comparatively easy
to guard our trains.

General Butler moved his main force up the James River, in pursuance of
instructions, on the 4th of May, General Gillmore having joined him with
the tenth corps. At the same time he sent a force of one thousand eight
hundred cavalry, by way of West Point, to form a junction with him
wherever he might get a foothold, and a force of three thousand cavalry,
under General Kautz, from Suffolk, to operate against the road south of
Petersburg and Richmond. On the 5th, he occupied, without opposition,
both City Point and Bermuda Hundred, his movement being a complete
surprise. On the 6th, he was in position with his main army, and
commenced intrenching. On the 7th he made a reconnoissance against the
Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, destroying a portion of it after some
fighting. On the 9th he telegraphed as follows:


"HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

"Our operations may be summed up in a few words. With one thousand
seven hundred cavalry we have advanced up the Peninsula, forced the
Chickahominy, and have safely, brought them to their present position.
These were colored cavalry, and are now holding our advance pickets
towards Richmond.

"General Kautz, with three thousand cavalry from Suffolk, on the same
day with our movement up James River, forced the Black Water, burned the
railroad bridge at Stony Creek, below Petersburg, cutting into
Beauregard's force at that point.

"We have landed here, intrenched ourselves, destroyed many miles of
railroad, and got a position which, with proper supplies, we can hold
out against the whole of Lee's army. I have ordered up the supplies.

"Beauregard, with a large portion of his force, was left south by the
cutting of the railroads by Kautz. That portion which reached
Petersburg under Hill I have whipped to-day, killing and wounding many,
and taking many prisoners, after a severe and well-contested fight.

"General Grant will not be troubled with any further reinforcements to
Lee from Beauregard's force.

"BENJ. F. BUTLER, Major-General."

On the evening of the 13th and morning of the 14th he carried a portion
of the enemy's first line of defences at Drury's Bluff, or Fort Darling,
with small loss. The time thus consumed from the 6th lost to us the
benefit of the surprise and capture of Richmond and Petersburg,
enabling, as it did, Beauregard to collect his loose forces in North and
South Carolina, and bring them to the defence of those places. On the
16th, the enemy attacked General Butler in his position in front of
Drury's Bluff. He was forced back, or drew back, into his intrenchments
between the forks of the James and Appomattox rivers, the enemy
intrenching strongly in his front, thus covering his railroads, the
city, and all that was valuable to him. His army, therefore, though in
a position of great security, was as completely shut off from further
operations directly against Richmond as if it had been in a bottle
strongly corked. It required but a comparatively small force of the
enemy to hold it there.

On the 12th, General Kautz, with his cavalry, was started on a raid
against the Danville Railroad, which he struck at Coalfield, Powhatan,
and Chula Stations, destroying them, the railroad-track, two freight
trains, and one locomotive, together with large quantities of commissary
and other stores; thence, crossing to the South Side Road, struck it at
Wilson's, Wellsville, and Black's and White's Stations, destroying the
road and station-houses; thence he proceeded to City Point, which he
reached on the 18th.

On the 19th of April, and prior to the movement of General Butler, the
enemy, with a land force under General Hoke and an iron-clad ram,
attacked Plymouth, N. C., commanded by General H. W. Wessells, and our
gunboats there, and, after severe fighting, the place was carried by
assault, and the entire garrison and armament captured. The gunboat
Smithfield was sunk, and the Miami disabled.

The army sent to operate against Richmond having hermetically sealed
itself up at Bermuda Hundred, the enemy was enabled to bring the most,
if not all, the reinforcements brought from the south by Beauregard
against the Army of the Potomac. In addition to this reinforcement, a
very considerable one, probably not less than fifteen thousand men, was
obtained by calling in the scattered troops under Breckinridge from the
western part of Virginia.

The position of Bermuda Hundred was as easy to defend as it was
difficult to operate from against the enemy. I determined, therefore,
to bring from it all available forces, leaving enough only to secure
what had been gained; and accordingly, on the 22d, I directed that they
be sent forward, under command of Major-General W. F. Smith, to join the
Army of the Potomac.

On the 24th of May, the 9th army corps, commanded by Major-General A. E.
Burnside, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and from this time
forward constituted a portion of Major-General Meade's command.

Finding the enemy's position on the North Anna stronger than either of
his previous ones, I withdrew on the night of the 26th to the north bank
of the North Anna, and moved via Hanover Town to turn the enemy's
position by his right.

Generals Torbert's and Merritt's divisions of cavalry, under Sheridan,
and the 6th corps, led the advance, crossed the Pamunkey River at
Hanover Town, after considerable fighting, and on the 28th the two
divisions of cavalry had a severe, but successful engagement with the
enemy at Hawes's Shop. On the 29th and 30th we advanced, with heavy
skirmishing, to the Hanover Court House and Cold Harbor Road, and
developed the enemy's position north of the Chickahominy. Late on the
evening of the last day the enemy came out and attacked our left, but
was repulsed with very considerable loss. An attack was immediately
ordered by General Meade, along his whole line, which resulted in
driving the enemy from a part of his intrenched skirmish line.

On the 31st, General Wilson's division of cavalry destroyed the railroad
bridges over the South Anna River, after defeating the enemy's cavalry.
General Sheridan, on the same day, reached Cold Harbor, and held it
until relieved by the 6th corps and General Smith's command, which had
just arrived, via White House, from General Butler's army.

On the 1st day of June an attack was made at five P.M. by the 6th corps
and the troops under General Smith, the other corps being held in
readiness to advance on the receipt of orders. This resulted in our
carrying and holding the enemy's first line of works in front of the
right of the 6th corps, and in front of General Smith. During the
attack the enemy made repeated assaults on each of the corps not engaged
in the main attack, but was repulsed with heavy loss in every instance.
That night he made several assaults to regain what he had lost in the
day, but failed. The 2d was spent in getting troops into position for
an attack on the 3d. On the 3d of June we again assaulted the enemy's
works, in the hope of driving him from his position. In this attempt
our loss was heavy, while that of the enemy, I have reason to believe,
was comparatively light. It was the only general attack made from the
Rapidan to the James which did not inflict upon the enemy losses to
compensate for our own losses. I would not be understood as saying that
all previous attacks resulted in victories to our arms, or accomplished
as much as I had hoped from them; but they inflicted upon the enemy
severe losses, which tended, in the end, to the complete overthrow of
the rebellion.

From the proximity of the enemy to his defences around Richmond, it was
impossible, by any flank movement, to interpose between him and the
city. I was still in a condition to either move by his left flank, and
invest Richmond from the north side, or continue my move by his right
flank to the south side of the James. While the former might have been
better as a covering for Washington, yet a full survey of all the ground
satisfied me that it would be impracticable to hold a line north and
east of Richmond that would protect the Fredericksburg Railroad, a long,
vulnerable line, which would exhaust much of our strength to guard, and
that would have to be protected to supply the army, and would leave open
to the enemy all his lines of communication on the south side of the
James. My idea, from the start, had been to beat Lee's army north of
Richmond, if possible. Then, after destroying his lines of
communication north of the James River, to transfer the army to the
south side, and besiege Lee in Richmond, or follow him south if he
should retreat. After the battle of the Wilderness, it was evident that
the enemy deemed it of the first importance to run no risks with the
army he then had. He acted purely on the defensive, behind breastworks,
or feebly on the offensive immediately in front of them, and where, in
case of repulse, he could easily retire behind them. Without a greater
sacrifice of life than I was willing to make, all could not be
accomplished that I had designed north of Richmond. I therefore
determined to continue to hold substantially the ground we then
occupied, taking advantage of any favorable circumstances that might
present themselves, until the cavalry could be sent to Charlottesville
and Gordonsville to effectually break up the railroad connection between
Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley and Lynchburg; and when the cavalry
got well off, to move the army to the south side of the James River, by
the enemy's right flank, where I felt I could cut off all his sources of
supply, except by the canal.

On the 7th, two divisions of cavalry, under General Sheridan, got off on
the expedition against the Virginia Central Railroad, with instructions
to Hunter, whom I hoped he would meet near Charlottesville, to join his
forces to Sheridan's, and after the work laid out for them was
thoroughly done, to join the Army of the Potomac by the route laid down
in Sheridan's instructions.

On the 10th of June, General Butler sent a force of infantry, under
General Gillmore, and of cavalry under General Kautz, to capture
Petersburg, if possible, and destroy the railroad and common bridges
across the Appomattox. The cavalry carried the works on the south side,
and penetrated well in towards the town, but were forced to retire.
General Gillmore, finding the works which he approached very strong, and
deeming an assault impracticable, returned to Bermuda Hundred without
attempting one.

Attaching great importance to the possession of Petersburg, I sent back
to Bermuda Hundred and City Point, General Smith's command by water, via
the White House, to reach there in advance of the Army of the Potomac.
This was for the express purpose of securing Petersburg before the
enemy, becoming aware of our intention, could reinforce the place.

The movement from Cold Harbor commenced after dark on the evening of the
12th. One division of cavalry, under General Wilson, and the 5th corps,
crossed the Chickahominy at Long Bridge, and moved out to White Oak
Swamp, to cover the crossings of the other corps. The advance corps
reached James River, at Wilcox's Landing and Charles City Court House,
on the night of the 13th.

During three long years the Armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia
had been confronting each other. In that time they had fought more
desperate battles than it probably ever before fell to the lot of two
armies to fight, without materially changing the vantage ground of
either. The Southern press and people, with more shrewdness than was
displayed in the North, finding that they had failed to capture
Washington and march on to New York, as they had boasted they would do,
assumed that they only defended their Capital and Southern territory.
Hence, Antietam, Gettysburg, and all the other battles that had been
fought, were by them set down as failures on our part, and victories for
them. Their army believed this. It produced a morale which could only
be overcome by desperate and continuous hard fighting. The battles of
the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna and Cold Harbor, bloody and
terrible as they were on our side, were even more damaging to the enemy,
and so crippled him as to make him wary ever after of taking the
offensive. His losses in men were probably not so great, owing to the
fact that we were, save in the Wilderness, almost invariably the
attacking party; and when he did attack, it was in the open field. The
details of these battles, which for endurance and bravery on the part of
the soldiery, have rarely been surpassed, are given in the report of
Major-General Meade, and the subordinate reports accompanying it.

During the campaign of forty-three days, from the Rapidan to the James
River, the army had to be supplied from an ever-shifting base, by
wagons, over narrow roads, through a densely wooded country, with a lack
of wharves at each new base from which to conveniently discharge
vessels. Too much credit cannot, therefore, be awarded to the
quartermaster and commissary departments for the zeal and efficiency
displayed by them. Under the general supervision of the chief
quartermaster, Brigadier-General R. Ingalls, the trains were made to
occupy all the available roads between the army and our water-base, and
but little difficulty was experienced in protecting them.


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