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Ringgold Gap, twenty-six miles; and then only paused because of the necessity to send relief to General Burnside at Knoxville. This was fully accomplished, so that by the end of November the enemy was beaten at all points, and the temporary check at Chickamauga was fully redeemed. The losses in the Union army were 5615, to the Confederate loss of 8684. All the movements were made strictly according to the lessons of war as taught by the great masters, and they will stand the test of the most rigid critic.
I now turn with some degree of hesitation to the great Army of the Potomac, operating directly in front of Washington, and which European and Eastern critics, whose sight apparently could not penetrate beyond the Alleghanies, watched with painful solicitude. That army was from the beginning to the end of the war the controlling military force of the Union cause; and never was an army more true and loyal to its government, more obedient to its generals, more patient in adversity, more magnanimous in victory than was the Army of the Potomac. After the episode of Bull Run in July, 1861, General McClellan was called from the West by universal acclaim to command it; and on the retirement of General Scott, by reason of age, November Ist, General McClellan was appointed by President Lincoln to command all the armies of the United States. He proceeded with commendable skill and energy to the work of organization, equipment, and transportation; but the season for active operations had passed, and his army remained on the banks of the Potomac at the beginning of 1862. The Confederate army, under General Joseph E. Johnston, was at Centreville, twenty-six miles south, with outposts in sight of the National Capitol, and had established batteries on the river below threatening the water-line of supply from the direction of the Chesapeake. General McClellan's "Own Story," now a part of history, shows that he was conscious of the impatience of the whole country at his seeming quiescence; and I am not surprised that Mr. Lincoln should have assumed his unquestioned power to issue his General Order No. 1, of January 27th, ordering a simultaneous advance of all the armies on the 22d of February, 1862. The Army of the Potomac advanced directly from their camps to the front at Fairfax and Centreville, to find that the Confederates had gone behind the Rappahannock.
At Fairfax Court House, on the 11th of March, General McClellan received President Lincoln's war order, No. 3, relieving him of the command of the armies of the United States; restricting his authority to the single Army of the Potomac; and in common with
all other department commanders requiring him to report promptly and frequently to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton. Meantime had been fully discussed the plan of campaign, the bases of supply, lines of operation, fortresses, etc., partly by conference, and partly by a correspondence given at length in McClellan's "Own Story," culminating in the two letters of February 3, 1862, on p. 229. The result was the movement against Richmond by way of Fort Monroe, resulting in innumerable delays at Yorktown, Williamsburg, etc., till the 31st of May, when was fought the first considerable battle of "Fair Oaks," or "Seven Pines," near Richmond, at which General Johnston was wounded, and General Lee succeeded him in command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Soon followed the battle of Gaines's Mill, and McClellan's "retreat," fighting for seven days (June 25thJuly 1st) to reach Harrison's Landing on the James River, twenty-five miles below Richmond, as a new "base" from which to renew his offensive against Richmond, when his army had become rested and reënforced from the North. During his stay at Harrison's Landing, July 2d-August 17th, the temper of his correspondence, official and private, was indicative of a spirit not consistent with the duty of the commanding general of a great army.
After reading McClellan's "Own Story," and the principal histories of that period, coupled with conversations with many of his principal subordinates, I am convinced that McClellan's fatal mistake was in the choice of his "line of operations" in the spring of 1862. I believe that had he moved straight against his antagonist behind the Rappahannock with his then magnificent army, and had he fought steadily and persistently, as Grant did two years later, he would have picked up his detachments, including McDowell's corps, would have reached Richmond with an overwhelming force, would have captured the city, possibly the Confederate army,—at least would have dispersed it,-thus ending the war.
I do not entertain the idea that Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Chase, and General Halleck could have conspired for his defeat, lest McClellan should become a rival presidential candidate, or for any motive whatsoever. He had ample power and adequate force, but failed in his "objective," which should have been the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, instead of the city of Richmond. Of course, the withdrawal of Blenker's division and McDowell's corps at the crisis of his attack on Richmond were large factors in his failure, but these were direct consequences of his own plan of campaign, which involved the defense of Washington as well as the capture of Rich
mond. General McClellan was unquestionably a man of pure character, of great intelligence, learned in the science of war, and with all the experience possible in our country with its limited military establishment. He was graduated at West Point, No. 2 in the class of 1846; went directly to the war in Mexico, whence he returned with an exalted reputation for soldiership under fire; was selected by the War Department for many scientific purposes, among them to proceed to Sebastopol in 1856, to observe the operations of the armies there engaged; and soon after the outbreak of our Rebellion was chosen with universal assent to command the principal army of the Union. No man knew better than he that the problem of war demanded an aggressive soldier. He failed because he chose a wrong "objective" and a wrong "line of operation a common mistake in strategy. Meantime General Halleck, July 16, 1862, had been summoned from Corinth, Mississippi, to Washington, to command the armies of the United States, and thus the Army of the Potomac had four commanding generals, the President, the Secretary of War, General Halleck, and General McClellan,-each giving orders, planning campaigns, ordering detachments hither and thither, seemingly without concert, and based on the latest information by "spies and informers." Nothing but Divine Providence could have saved this nation from humiliation at that crisis of our history. General John Pope, whose work at Island No. 10 and at Corinth had been personally seen by General Halleck, was brought east by him and given command of the scattered forces left behind by McClellan to protect Washington against Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate hosts who believed that Washington was synonymous with the Union cause, and that if Washington could be captured "the game was up." General Pope skillfully collected and disposed his forces, and fought them manfully. The Army of the Potomac, by Halleck's orders, was withdrawn from Harrison's Landing and sent as rapidly as possible to the assistance of General Pope, who was threatened by Stonewall Jackson, followed by Lee's whole army. The battle of Groveton, or the second Bull Run, has been the subject of the most critical investigation, and I do not propose to mingle in that controversy; but I believe Pope fought valiantly and well, that he checked Lee in his full career for Washington, and brought his "forlorn-hope" to the defenses of Washington in as good condition as could have been done by any of his critics.
At all events the Army of the Potomac was back in front of Washington about the end of August, 1862, confronting its old enemy com
manded by Lee, which believed itself invincible. On the 2d of September Major-General McClellan was ordered by the President to "have command of the fortifications of Washington, and of all the troops for the defense of the capital."* Pope's Army of Virginia was merged into that of the Potomac, then commanded by McClellan.
Lee then began his invasive campaign into Maryland, crossing the Potomac by its upper fords east of Harper's Ferry, having detached Stonewall Jackson to capture Harper's Ferry and its garrison, which he did promptly on the 15th of September, at a loss to the Union of 11,783 men, to the Confederates of 500, and thereafter joined Lee at Antietam in time to render material assistance in that battle.
As soon as McClellan became convinced that Lee designed to cross the Potomac, he followed by roads leading north of that river, his left near it and his right extending to Frederick City, which he reached September 12th. The Confederates had been there the day before, and had fallen back along the old National Road by Turner's and Crampton's Gaps of South Mountain (Blue Ridge), where a battle was fought on the 14th, in which the Union loss was 2325 to the Confederate 4343. Lee called in all his detachments and prepared for battle at Sharpsburg, covering a ford of the Potomac River with Antietam Creek to his front, assuming the defensive. McClellan closed down on him and prepared to defeat him with a considerable river to his rear. This battle also has been one which has been discussed with crimination and recrimination in which I do not propose to engage, limiting myself to quotations from Soady:
It is an approved maxim in war never to do what the enemy wishes you to do, for this reason alone - that he desires it. A field of battle, therefore, which he has previously studied and reconnoitered should be avoided, and double care should be taken where he has had time to fortify or intrench. One consequence deducible from this principle is never to attack a position in front which you can gain by turning (Napoleon) [p. 75].
General McClellan at the battle of Antietam, beside that [sic] of making his attacks so disconnectedly that kept 15,000 they afforded no help to each other,
men in strict reserve to the very end of the battle-a force which properly employed might have been used to obtain some decisive advantage. For any practical effect Porter's corps might as well have been at Washington. There is no example of any great tactician thus making useless his superiority of force of his own choice, except the single one of Napoleon refusing to employ his guard to decide the desperate struggle at Borodino; and although the great emperor had the strongest possible reason for thus reserving his best troops in the enormous distance from his depots which he arrived at, and the consequent impossibility of replacing them, yet he has been more condemned than admired for this striking deviation from his usual practice, which rendered his victory so * "McClellan's Own Story," p. 536.
indecisive and ultimately so useless. But McClellan was in the very reverse of such a position, and could have had no similar reason; for his reënforcements were near, and those of his opponent exhausted. The only excuse that can be made for his timidity as to the use of his reserve must be in the ignorance he labored under as to the great numerical inferiority of Lee [p. 234].
The battle of Antietam was fought September 17, 1862, soon after which McClellan was superseded by Burnside, who followed Lee up to the old lines of the Rappahannock, crossed at Fredericksburg, and on December 13th fought that desperate battle, losing 12,353 to Lee's loss of 4576; soon after which he was replaced by Hooker, who crossed the Rapidan and May 14, 1863, fought Lee at Chancellorsville, losing 16,030 to Lee's 12,281, when he fell back again north of the Rappahannock. Then Lee in his turn assumed the offensive and made his campaign into Pennsylvania, resulting in the famous battle of Gettysburg, fought almost coincident with the capture of Vicksburg, viz., July 1-3, 1863, in which Lee was the assailant, losing 23,186 men to 34,621 on the part of Meade,* who fought purely on the defensive. General Meade is entitled to extraordinary honor for his conduct of that battle, because he was ordered to command that army whilst actually on the march, with no time to reconnoiter, study the ground, or become acquainted with his corps and division commanders,—that too in the presence of a victorious army of unknown strength, commanded by a general of known ability and great repute.
The defeat of the Confederate army at Gettysburg and the capture of Vicksburg should have ended the civil war July 4, 1863, but no! the leaders demanded the "last ditch," and their followers seemed will ing. The Army of Northern Virginia fell back behind the Rappahannock, and the Army of the Potomac followed and occupied their old ground about Warrenton.
On the 4th day of March, 1864, General U. S. Grant was summoned to Washington from Nashville to receive his commission of lieutenant-general, the highest rank then known in the United States, and the same that was conferred on Washington in 1798. He reached Washington on the 7th, had an interview for the first time with Mr. Lincoln, and on the 9th received his commission at the hands of the President, who made a short address, to which Grant made a suitable reply. He was informed that it was desirable that he should come east to command all the armies of the United States, and give his personal supervision to the Army of the Potomac. On the 10th he visited General Meade at Brandy Station,
Later compilations make the losses: Confederate, 25,873; Union, 23,001.- EDITOR.
and saw many of his leading officers, but returned to Washington the next day and went on to Nashville, to which place he had summoned Sherman, then absent on his Meridian expedition. On the 18th of March he turned over to Sherman the command of the western armies and started back for Washington, Sherman accompanying him as far as Cincinnati. Amidst constant interruptions of a business and social nature, these two commanders reached the satisfactory conclusion that as soon as the season would permit, all the armies of the Union would assume the "bold offensive" by "concentric lines" on the common enemy, and would finish up the job in a single campaign if possible. The main "objectives" were Lee's army behind the Rapidan in Virginia, and Johnston's army at Dalton, Georgia.
On reaching Washington, General Grant studied with great care all the minutiæ of the organization, strength, qualities, and resources of each of the many armies into which the Union forces had resolved themselves by reason of preceding events, and in due time with wonderful precision laid out the work which each one should undertake. His written instructions to me at Nashville were embraced in his two letters of April 4, and April 19, 1864, both in his own handwriting, which I still possess, and which, in my judgment, are as complete as any of those of the Duke of Wellington contained in the twelve volumes of his published letters and correspondence.
With the month of May came the season for action, and by the 4th all his armies were in motion. The army of Butler at Fort Monroe was his left, Meade's army the center, and Sherman at Chattanooga his right. Butler was to move against Richmond on the south of James River, Meade straight against Lee, intrenched behind the Rapidan, and Sherman to attack Joe Johnston and push him to and beyond Atlanta. This was as far as human foresight could penetrate. Though Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac, General Grant substantially controlled it, and on the 4th of May, 1864, he crossed the Rapidan, and at noon next day attacked Lee. He knew that a certain amount of fighting, "killing," had to be done to accomplish his end, and also to pay the penalty of former failures. In the "wilderness" there was no room for grand strategy, or even minor tactics; but the fighting was desperate, the losses to the Union army being, according to Phisterer, 37,737,† to the Confederate loss of 11,400- the difference due to Lee's intrenchments and the blind nature of the country in which the battle was fought. On the night of May 7th both par+ Later compilation, 17,666.- EDITOR.
ties paused, appalled by the fearful slaughter; but General Grant commanded "Forward by the left flank." That was, in my judgment, the supreme moment of his life: undismayed, with a full comprehension of the importance of the work in which he was engaged, feeling as keen a sympathy for his dead and wounded as any one, and without stopping to count his numbers, he gave his orders calmly, specifically, and absolutely-" Forward to Spotsylvania." But his watchful and skillful antagonist detected his purpose, having the inner or shorter line, threw his army across Grant's path, and promptly fortified it. These field intrenchments are peculiar to America, though I am convinced they were employed by the Romans in Gaul in the days of Cæsar. A regiment, brigade, division, or corps, halting for the night or for battle, faced the enemy; moved forward to ground with a good outlook to the front; stacked arms; gathered logs, stumps, fencerails, and anything which would stop a bullet; piled these to their front, and, digging a ditch behind, threw the dirt forward, and made a parapet which covered their persons as perfectly as a granite wall.
When Grant reached Spotsylvania, on the 8th of May, he found his antagonist in his front thus intrenched. He was delayed there till the 20th, during which time there was incessant fighting, because he was compelled to attack his enemy behind these improvised intrenchments. His losses according to Phisterer were 24,461,* to the Confederate loss of 9000. Nevertheless, his renewed order, Forward by the left flank," compelled Lee to retreat to the defenses of Richmond.
Grant's memoirs enable us to follow him day by day across the various rivers which lay between him and Richmond, and in the bloody assaults at Cold Harbor, where his losses are reported 14,931 to 1700 by his opponent. Yet ever onward by the left flank, he crossed James River, and penned Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia within the intrenchments of Richmond and Petersburg for ten long months on the pure defensive, to remain almost passive observers of local events, whilst Grant's other armies were absolutely annihilating the Southern Confederacy.
Whilst Grant was fighting desperately from the Rapidan to the James, there were two other armies within the same "zone of operations," that of the "James" under General Butler, who was expected to march up on the south and invest Petersburg and even Richmond; and that of Sigel at Winchester, who was expected to march up the Valley of Virginia, pick up his detachments from the
* Later compilation, 18,399.- EDITOR. + Later compilation, 12,737.- Editor.
Kanawha (Crook and Averell), and threaten Lynchburg, a place of vital importance to Lee in Richmond. Butler failed to accomplish what was expected of him; and Sigel failed at the very start, and was replaced by Hunter, who marched up the Valley, made junction with Crook and Averell at Staunton, and pushed on with commendable vigor to Lynchburg, which he invested on the 16th of June.
Lee, who by this time had been driven into Richmond with a force large enough to hold his lines of intrenchment and a surplus for expeditions, detached General Jubal A. Early with the equivalent of a corps to drive Hunter away from Lynchburg. Hunter, far from his base, with inadequate supplies of food and ammunition, retreated by the Kanawha to the Ohio River, his nearest base, thereby exposing the Valley of Virginia, whereupon Early, an educated soldier, promptly resolved to take advantage of the occasion, marched rapidly down this valley northward to Winchester, crossed the Potomac to Hagerstown, and thence boldly marched on Washington, defended at that time only by armed clerks and militia. General Grant, fully alive to the danger, dispatched to Washington by water, from his army investing Petersburg, two divisions of the Sixth Corps and the Nineteenth Corps, just arriving from New Orleans. These troops arrived at the very nick of time,- met Early's army in the suburbs of Washington, and drove it back to the Valley of Virginia, whence it had come.
This most skillful movement of Early demonstrated to General Grant the importance of the Valley of Virginia, not only as a base of supplies for Lee's army in Richmond, but as the most direct, shortest, and easiest route for a "diversion" into the Union territory north of the Potomac. He therefore cast around for a suitable commander for this field of operations, and settled upon Major-General Philip H. Sheridan, whom he had brought from the West to command the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac.
Sheridan promptly repaired to his new sphere of operations, quickly ascertained its strength and resources, and resolved to attack Early in the position which he had chosen in and about Winchester, Va. He delivered his attack across broken ground on the 19th of September, beat his antagonist in fair, open battle, sending him "whirling up the Valley," inflicting a loss of 5500 men to his of 4873, and followed him up to Cedar Creek and Fisher's Hill. There Early recomposed his army and fell upon the Union army on the 19th of October, gaining a temporary advantage during General Sheridan's absence; but on his opportune return his army resumed the
offensive, defeated Early, captured nearly all his artillery, and drove him completely out of his field of operations, eliminating that army from the subsequent problem of the war. Sheridan's losses were 5995 to Early's 4200; but these losses are no just measure of the results of that victory, which made it impossible to use the Valley of Virginia as a Confederate base of supplies and as an easy route for raids within the Union lines. General Sheridan then committed its protection to detachments and with his main force rejoined General Grant, who still held Lee's army inside his intrenchments at Richmond and Petersburg.
I now turn with a feeling of extreme delicacy to the conduct of that other campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, Savannah, and Raleigh, which with liberal discretion was committed to me by General Grant in his minute instructions of April 4, and April 10, 1864. To all military students these letters must be familiar, because they have been published again and again, and there never was and never can be raised a question of rivalry or claim between us as to the relative merits of the manner in which we played our respective parts. We were as brothers-I the older man in years, but he the higher in rank. We both believed in our heart of hearts that the success of the Union cause was not only necessary to the then generation of Americans, but to all future generations. We both professed to be gentlemen and professional soldiers, educated in the science of war by our generous Government for the very occasion which had arisen. Neither of us by nature was a combative man; but with honest hearts and a clear purpose to do what man could we embarked on that campaign which I believe, in its strategy, in its logistics, in its grand and minor tactics, has added new luster to the old science of war. Both of us had at our front generals to whom in early life we had been taught to look up,- educated and experienced soldiers like ourselves, not likely to make any mistakes, and each of whom had as strong an army as could be collected from the mass of their nine millions of Southern people, of the same blood as ourselves, brave, confident, and well equipped; in addition to which they had the most decided advantage of operating in their own difficult country of mountain, forest, ravine, and river, affording admirable opportunities for defense, besides the other equally important advantage that we had to invade the country of our unqualified enemy and expose our long lines of sup. ply to the guerrillas of an "exasperated people." Again, as we advanced we had to leave guards to bridges, stations, and intermediate depots, diminishing the fighting force, whilst our ene
my gained strength by picking up his detachments as he fell back, and with railroads to bring supplies and reënforcements from his rear. In Europe war is confined to actual belligerents wearing uniforms, publicly proclaiming their character. Not so with us. Men professing to be peaceful farmers and physicians. yea, preachers of the Gospel - were apprehended in doing acts of a most damaging nature; and I recall to memory a case when our pickets brought to me three preachers with double-barreled guns who said they were hunting for birds as food for their tables. On drawing the charges, each gun contained twelve buckshot, which would have killed a man at sixty yards. I instance these facts to offset the common assertion that we of the North won the war by brute force, and not by courage and skill.
On the historic 4th day of May, 1864, the Confederate army at my front lay at Dalton, Georgia, composed, according to the best authority, of about 45,000 men, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston, who was the equal in all the elements of generalship with General Lee, and who was under instructions from the war powers in Richmond to assume the offensive northward as far as Nashville. But he soon discovered that he would have to conduct a defensive campaign. Coincident with the movement of the Army of the Potomac, as announced by telegraph, I put my armies in motion from our base at Chattanooga. These were the armies of the Ohio, 13,559 men; of the Cumberland, 60,773; of the Tennessee, 24,465 — grand total, 98,797 men and 254 guns.
I had no purpose to attack Johnston's position at Dalton in front, but marched from Chattanooga to feign at his front and to make a lodgment in Resaca, eighteen miles to his rear, on "his line of communication and supply." The movement was partially, not wholly, successful; but it compelled Johnston to let go Dalton and fight us at Resaca, where, May 13th-16th, our loss was 2747 and his 2800. I fought offensively and he defensively, aided by earth parapets. He then fell back to Calhoun, Adairsville, and Cassville, where he halted for the battle of the campaign; but, for reasons given in his memoirs, he continued his retreat behind the next spur of mountains to Allatoona.
Pausing for a few days to repair the railroad without attempting Allatoona, of which I had personal knowledge acquired in 1844, I resolved to push on towards Atlanta by way of Dallas; this Johnston quickly detected, and forced me to fight him at New Hope Church, four miles north of Dallas, resulting in losses of 3000 to the Confederates to 2400 to us.