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re-enforcements to General Grant, and on the 18th the fighting in front of Spottsylvania was renewed. On the 19th the rebels inflicted a heavy loss upon our right by making an unexpected attack, in which some of our newly arrived regiments suffered severely. This was an attempt of the rebels to cut our communications, but they failed entirely in doing so.
They had, however, by this time thrown up intrenchments of so formidable a character that General Grant determined again to make a tanking movement by the
The movement was at once perceived by General Lee,
rebels were already there. They were not, however, able to prevent our forces from crossing the river, and inflicting a severe blow upon the enemy in the crossing. After crossing, however, the main body of Lep's army was discovered to have taken so strong a position between the North and South Anna rivers, that General Grant again deemed it wise not to make a direct attack, but to repeat his flanking movement.
The army was accordingly withdrawn without loss from Lee's front on the night of Thursday, May 26th, and, moving again by the left, crossed the Pamunkey, but was again confronted by the rebel army, which, after some severe fighting, again made a stand at Coal Harbor. While here, one corps of General Butler's army, under General Smith, was transferred to the Army of the Potomac. Thus re-enforced, a violent but unsuccessful attack was made upon the rebel intrenchments on the 3d of June, and, after heavy losses, the attack was abandoned. Repeated efforts, however, on the part of the rebels, to turn our left, and to break up the communication which had been formed with the White House, on the Pamunkey river, also failed as signally. And both armies thus remained for several days, watching each other sleeplessly, and each preferring to receive rather than to mako an attack.
Other co-operative movements went on during all this time. In Western Virginia, General Averill had made quite a successful raid upon the railroads. In the Shenandoah Valley, where General Hunter had taken command in place of General Sigel, our forces won a brilliant victory at Piedmont over the rebels under Generals Jones and Imboden, the former of whom was killed. Hunter captured one thousand five hundred prisoners and three guns; and, forming a junction with Crook and Averill, pashed on towards Lynchburg, which however he was tinable to reach. An unsuccessful attack was made by General Butler's forces upon Petersburg on the 10th of June.
On the 12th of June, General Grant, having become convinced that nothing could be gained by a direct attack upon General Lee, followed up his plan of aiming to strike Lee's southern communications by leaving his front and again marching by the left to the James river, which he crossed upon a pontoon bridge below City Point, and immediately moved forward to the attack upon Petersburg. Again, however, General Lee, having the inside lines to move upon, was a few hours in advance of our troops, and, while several forts were taken on the outer lines of defences, with thirteen cannon and some prisoners, in which the colored troops especially distinguished themselves, the inner lines were found to be too strong, and our army settled itself down to the siege of Petersburg.
General Sherman's movement upon Atlanta was made at the same time as that of the Army of the Potomac. His army was superior in numbers to that which was opposed to it, but the rocky heights which were held by General Johnston were so strong that General Sherman did not waste its strength by attacking them in front, but by a series of masterly flank movements he compelled the rebel army to retreat successively from Buzzard's Roost, from Dalton, and from Resaca, at which latter place there were, however, two days of heavy fighting on the 14th and 15th of May, resulting in the capture of both guns and prisoners by our troops, the retreat of Johnston across the Oostenaula river, and the capture without serious opposition of Rome and Kingston, some sixty miles further on towards Atlanta. At Rome, large quantities of provisions were captured, and large machine-shops were destroyed. Johnston's retreat had been too rapid to allow of his doing much damage to the railroad along which his army was falling back towards Atlanta ; and whatever damage he was enabled to do was at once repaired, and the railroad was put in use to supply onr armies in their advance.
The Altoona Mountains were the scene of the next stand made by the rebels. General Sherman continued the flanking system, and moved towards Dallas, where, however, he was met by the rebels, who attacked McPherson's Corps on the 28th of May, and met a disastrous repulse, losing some two thousand five hundred killed and wounded and eight hundred prisoners This movement having drawn the rebels from their position at the pass of the Altoona Mountains, it was occupied and held by our cavalry, becoming at once, as General Sherman said, “as useful to us as it was to the enemy,'' and the rebels . took up a new position at Kenesaw and Lost Mountain. Efforts were made by them, while Sherman was advancing towards this position, to interfere with his communi. cations, and some damage was done to the railroad by rebel cavalry, which was, however, speedily driven off. A more discouraging affair, however, was the defeat of a heavy expedition, which set out from Memphis under command of General Sturges, by the rebel General Forrest, on the 10th of June. The requirements of General Sherman's position were not, however, so great but that he was able at once to make arrangements to repair this disaster. Like General Grant, he was not "jostled from his plans” by these outside manoeuvres any more than by the direct blows of the rebel army, and by the 18th of June, when Grant stationed himself before the larks of Petersburg after his march of a hundred mi)and his many battles, Sherman had arrived before the ebel works at Kenesaw Mountain after a similar mai il of
fighting and flanking the enemy over something more than a hundred miles of territory.
Both of these movements are now recognized as having been splendid successes. But it is not to be denied that from the time of the commencement of the siege of Peters
the country in reference to the operations of the army of the Potomac. It had been often announced that Lee's army was cut to pieces and fleeing in disorder, and yet that army had thus far, by repeated stands, been able to prevent Grant from breaking through its lines. Even Petersburg was declared to have been taken by assault on the first attack; and yet it was found that, instead of this, our army was not able at once to draw its lines around the place far enough to cut off the Weldon Railroad. The losses of the army were greatly exaggerated by the opposition, the difficulties of its position magnified, the lack of water and the dust and heat were dilated upon, and even the visit which the President paid to the army on the 22d of June was dwelt upon as an event
if not insuperable.
The army, however, did not look at it in that light. The President's visit was for them a gratification, not a cause for anxiety, and they cheered him, as he rode along the lines, with a heartiness which expressed their confidence in him and in the leaders whom he had given them. The President's confident expressions as to the state of affairs on his return went far to encourage the country; for the people had already come in great measure to have that abounding confidence in Mr. Lincoln which displayed itself so wonderfully during the rest of his life. He appreciated in his turn the confidence which the people felt in him. “I'do my best to deserve this,” said he to a friend, “but I tremble at the responsibility that devalves upon me, a weak; mortal man, to serve such a great and generous people in such a place as I hold, in such an awful crisis as this. It is a terrible responsibility;
but it has been imposed upon me without my seeking, and I trust Providence has a wise purpose for me to fulfil by appointing me to this charge, which is almost too much for a weak mortal to hold.”
He appreciated not only this confidence in him, but the whole character of the people. “Such a people," said he, “can never fail; and they deserve, and will receive, the proudest place in the history of nations.” It seems sad to think that he could not have lived to see how speedily the fulfilment of his prophecy approached.
General Grant's purpose was to extend his lines southward, cutting off as speedily as possible the railroads which led from Petersburg to the south; and by the cavalry arm destroying the other railroads leading to Richmond, thus isolating it from the South. In pursuance of this plan Sheridan with his cavalry destroyed a large portion of the railroads between Richmond and Gordonsville, returning to the White House, and there opening communications again with General Grant; and Wilson, on the south, cut the Weldon Railroad, and, reaching Burkesville, did serious damage also to the Danville road. The first move of the army, however, towards the Weldon road resulted disastrously ; and Wilson, on his return from his raid, was set upon at Ream's Station, and had to cut his way through with heavy loss, by the aid of a diversion effected by the Sixth Corps, which was sent to his relief. General Hunter, too, was unable to capture Lynchburg, and, falling short of ammunition, was compelled to retreat into Western Virginia by the Valley of the Kanawha.
Amid these various movements, Congress adjourned on the 4th of July.
The feeling at its adjournment was not buoyant, but tending to depression; and, just before it separated, a resolution was passed, requesting the President to appoint a day of fasting and prayer. Accordingly, on the 7th of July, he issued the following proclamation :