Picture Of Confederate Army

X wo rather ordinary looking soldiers met in a Cincinnati hotel room during March 1864; only the stars on their shoulder straps gave a hint as to the importance of their meeting. These two men were Ulysses S. Grant, commander of all of the armies of the United States, and his chief lieutenant, William T. Sherman, now the commander of Union forces in the west. Grant's previous position. The two Ohio-born officers had been friends for much of the war and remained close at this time. Sherman later described the reason for the relationship: "He stood by me when I was crazy and I stood by him when he was drunk; and now we stand by each other always."

The two West Point graduates had planned to press their adversaries relentlessly; the key operations would be in northern Virginia and in northern Georgia. Grant would remain in the field with the Army of the Potomac and engage Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia until it was defeated in battle. Sherman was charged with the task of engaging and destroying the other large Confederate formation, the Army of Tennessee under Lee's classmate, Joseph E. Johnston. These Confederate commanders were well-trained, educated and experienced in the arts of war, and their armies were defending their home territories. The tasks the two Union commanders set themselves were by no means easy to accomplish; and to succeed, the attacks had to be coordinated and simultaneous. Sherman told his quartermaster: "I'm going to move on Joe Johnston the day Grant telegraphs me he is going to hit Bobby Lee."

Grant's letter of instruction to Sherman was simple: "You I propose to move against Johnston's army, to break it up and get into the interior of the enemy's country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can upon their war resources." Sherman was given no specific target, but Atlanta was an obvious first goal.

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Siege of Atlanta

Relative positions of Confederate and Union forces during the siege of July 19-August 26, 1864

Approximate scale in miles



PAGE 99: Confederate soldiers fought again and again in skirmishes conducted over one hundred miles of territory as Joseph E. Johnston's troops delayed Sherman's advance toward Atlanta. OPPOSITE: Confederate engineers encircled the city of Atlanta with entrenchments and other field fortifications. Not to be outdone, Federal officers ordered rows of trenches to be built as they moved toward the doomed city. The importance of Atlanta can be judged by the numbers of roads and railroads in the area, as illustrated by this map.

Atlanta had become a vital rail hub, arsenal, and manufacturing center that supported the Confederate war effort. In importance, it was second only to Richmond and its industries turned out war supplies of every description. The railroads from the city carried grain and other forms of food from farms throughout the region and delivered it to Confederate armies in the field.

As Sherman made his preparations to move, Joseph Johnston was also readying his men for the inevitable spring offensive from the Union army. He was prepared for the job in front of him. He had once led the Army of Northern Virginia, but had suffered severe wounds at the Battle of Fair Oaks in 1862, and had been replaced by Lee. This experienced commander brought order and a high state of morale to the Army of Tennessee, the force that had been experiencing extremely high rates of desertion since the defeat under Braxton Bragg at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge that had cost the Confederacy Chattanooga.

Johnston gave a general amnesty to soldiers who freely rejoined their units and developed a system of furloughs to permit his men to visit their families during the winter. But he was also tough: many deserters stood at the foot of their graves while facing

Hoods Confederate Army
William Tecumseb Sherman, a trusted subordinate of Grant, was sent to destroy Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate army.

a firing squad. He organized his command into two corps, one under William Hardee, a veteran soldier who had participated in most of the fighting in the west. The other corps went to John B. Hood, a veteran of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Army of Tennessee was preparing for renewed war under tested commanders, one of whom (Johnston) they came to love with a reverence that approached the regard Lee's men held for him. Johnston took care of his men and they trusted him as their commander.

While Johnston may have won the full respect of his officers and men, he was far less popular in Richmond. Jefferson Davis harbored an extreme dislike—which approached distrust—for the general. A dispute developed between the two West Point graduates early in the war during which Johnston's

Pictures Braxton Bragg
Sad, sleepy-eyed John Bull Hood received his first army command after Braxton Bragg recommended to President Jefferson Davis that Johnston be replaced.

seniority had been invoked. Johnston had apparently antagonized Davis by not explaining his exact reasons for moving to Richmond following the victory at Bull Run. John Bell Hood entered into this political intrigue by sending a series of secret reports to Davis that painted a picture that differed from the one reported by Johnston. Hood may have been so disabled that he had to be strapped to his saddle, but he was ambitious and managed to undermine the slight amount of confidence Davis had in General Joe Johnston.

Johnston continued to prepare for the invasion he knew would come. He fortified positions on Rocky Face Ridge, a large ridge located a few miles west of Dalton, Georgia, and began the first campaign of the Confederacy with a strategy that matched the resources available. Johnston's strategy was one of defensive maneuver, which permitted his forces to move from one strong defensive position to another while inviting Sherman to make expensive frontal attacks. This campaign was one of the best-managed operations of the entire Civil War.

Sherman moved against Johnston on May 4, 1864 (the same day Grant crossed the Rapidan to begin the Battle of the Wilderness). Fighting occurred each day as Sherman forced his way south, repeatedly encountering strong positions set in his path. Sherman's armies—there were three under his command—would outflank Johnston. Johnston, in turn, would move back to prepared positions and wait for the arrival of the Union army—again.

Hood decided to open an attack of his own on June 22 near a large plantation, Kolb's farm, without the permission of Johnston. Unfortunately for Hood and his men, his preparations for the general assault had been revealed by prisoners and confirmed by skirmishers who were close enough to hear Hood's preparations. The attack struck a Federal force that outnumbered the Confederates. In addition, the Union defenders were ensconced in the relative safety of breastworks constructed just prior to the attack. Cannons fired into the attacking lines with canister and many of Hood's men fell. The Confederates withdrew, re-formed, and renewed their costly attack, then withdrew again. It remains a mystery why Hood ordered the unauthorized attack, but the results are clear: Hood lost nearly one thousand men and failed to report the full results of the error to Johnston.

This slow-paced campaign began to have an effect on the morale of Sherman's command. On June 27, slowed by muddy roads, Sherman decided to attack Johnston in a frontal assault at Kennesaw Mountain, where the Confederates waited in prepared

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positions. The Confederate army was able to fight a defensive battle, evacuate their entrenchments, and move into a new and elaborate line that had been prepared for them by slaves (by contrast, the Union soldiers had to dig their own trenches).

Sherman's plan was simple and was based on the assumption that Johnston had strengthened his vulnerable flanks at the expense of the center. Sherman's entire army would press the whole Confederate line, thereby occupying them while two assault columns would strike into the center of the defensive works. The Union army had not fully absorbed the lesson of Cold Harbor in the east: regiments attacking troops of near-equal strength in defensive positions suffer enormous casualties and gain little. Sherman lost nearly three thousand men at Kennesaw Mountain while Johnston lost a quarter of that number. Sherman had seen war and knew that men must die while fighting it and planned another attack. Meanwhile, one of his commanders, John Schofield, managed to outflank the Kennesaw Mountain positions that had been causing the Union forces so much trouble.

Anticipating Sherman's move, Johnston moved to another defensive line near the railroad at Smyrna. He then moved again, to the north bank of the Chattahoochee River, with the river at his rear—a location from which no sane man would fight. Sherman saw the slave-built fortifications and pronounced them "one of the strongest pieces of field fortifications I ever saw," but he could also see Atlanta in the distance.

He sent John Schofield upstream, where lightly armed Confederates were scattered, without the loss of a Federal soldier. By midnight, Schofield had built two pontoon bridges and ordered two divisions across into the expanding bridgehead.

Flanked again, Johnston was compelled to abandon his strong positions on the Chattahoochee River and march to new positions on a ridge behind Peachtree Creek. This new defensive line was only five miles from Atlanta. It was at this point that political influence began to have an impact on the operation. Braxton Bragg, Johnston's predecessor, arrived in Atlanta on July 13 on an "unofficial" visit. Bragg was now Jefferson Davis' military advisor. He met with Hood before he went to see Johnston; the disabled

OPPOSITE: Sherman decided on June 27, 1864, to attack General Joseph E. Johnston's prepared positions on Kennesaw Mountain. Sherman lost three thousand men in this conflict and Johnston was able to withdraw to a new line.

Battle Peachtree Creek 1864

Peachtree Creek

Relative positions of Confederate and Union forces during the battle of July 22, 1864

Approximate scale in miles 0 1

Approximate scale in miles 0 1

Hoods Confederate Army

The day after Hood took command, he ordered his men to attack Sherman's forces at Peachtree Creek. Although the poorly executed and uncoordinated attacks caught the Union army off guard, the Confederates lost twice the number of casualties as the Federals—men the southern army could not afford to lose.

The day after Hood took command, he ordered his men to attack Sherman's forces at Peachtree Creek. Although the poorly executed and uncoordinated attacks caught the Union army off guard, the Confederates lost twice the number of casualties as the Federals—men the southern army could not afford to lose.

but ambitious general bent Bragg's ear, undermining Johnston's postition as commander of the Army of Tennessee and promoting himself.

Johnston had about as much respect for Braxton Bragg as he had for Davis, and said of the Confederate president: "He tried to do what God failed to do. He tried to make a soldier of Braxton Bragg '- The combination of Bragg, Davis, and the reports of Hood were too much for Johnston to defend against and Davis relieved him of command. The combative, and possibly reckless, Hood assumed his command.

John Bell Hood is an interesting historical figure at this point in the Civil War. Always brave and reckless, he had been severely disabled by wounds; in fact, he had lost a leg before being ordered to northern Georgia. Hood was reported to be in extreme pain from his war wounds and may have been taking large amounts of an opiate called laudanum to relieve his discomfort. It is altogether possible that the painkiller interfered with his judgment. Curiously, he had also developed a new interest in religion as he entered into this series of battles and asked Leonidas Polk, a West Point graduate who was an Episcopal bishop of Louisiana and a Confederate general, to baptize him. A case could be made that Hood was preparing for his eventual death, and some historians have felt that his tactics during the remainder of the Civil War hinted tantalizingly of intentions of suicide.

Hood was known to be a bold and aggressive fighter, but he had commanded only smaller units in the past. He was entirely inexperienced at this level of command. Sherman was warned by Hood's West Point roommate, John Schofield, that Hood could be expected to "...hit you like Hell..." but Sherman was pleased with the change of command in the Confederate headquarters. He had been dealing with the delaying tactics of Johnston for over three months and

Hoods Confederate Army

Benjamin Harrison, a future president of the United States, gained distinction by closing a dangerous gap in the Union line during the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

General Grenville Dodge, a professional railroad engineer before the ivar, would survive the war and go on to work for the Union Pacific railroad, helping the U.P. to connect the east and west coasts.

General George H. Thomas, a Virginian who remained in the Federal army, had proven his ability in Tennessee. He gained the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" in the Battle of Chick-amauga by saving the Union from total defeat.

Benjamin Harrison, a future president of the United States, gained distinction by closing a dangerous gap in the Union line during the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

General Grenville Dodge, a professional railroad engineer before the ivar, would survive the war and go on to work for the Union Pacific railroad, helping the U.P. to connect the east and west coasts.

General George H. Thomas, a Virginian who remained in the Federal army, had proven his ability in Tennessee. He gained the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" in the Battle of Chick-amauga by saving the Union from total defeat.

was happily anticipating open combat with the Confederate army.

On July 19, the day after Hood took command, the Confederate commander noticed a flaw in the arrangement of the Federal divisions facing him and made some hasty plans. A gap had developed in the alignment of the armies of Schofield and Thorn; is as they marched into the swampy ground near Peachtree Creek; Hood made plans to attack. His plan was good but the execution was flawed.

Peachtree Creek was Hood's first battle as an independent commander and delays were encountered as the Confederate army moved into positions from which they would attack. The Confederate columns were late and the attack began at 4 p.m. The attacks were uncoordinated, but the Confederates managed to catch the Federal army off guard as it prepared to stop for the night. Sherman's army, used to doing the attacking against the Confederates in their breastworks, were completely unprepared for the violent attack. Confederate commander William Bate's division charged directly toward a bridge over the creek; once across, he would be in a position to block a Federal retreat.

George Thomas, the Union army commander at that location, was able to move an artillery battery into position to defend the bridge and break up the Confederate attack. Other of his divisions faced the prospect of being flanked and overwhelmed when a counterattack lead by Colonel Benjamin

Harrison, a future U.S. president, closed a break in the Federal defensive line and consolidated the defenders' positions as Hardee, the Confederate corps commander, prepared to order in his reserves.

The reserve division was one of the best in the Confederate army and was under the command of an excellent commander, Patrick Cleburne. Cleburne's men were to be sent in against Thomas' divisions in a last effort to win the battle before dark, but the orders were changed at the last moment.

While Thomas' Army of the Cumberland was under this severe attack, another of Sherman's units, the Army of the Tennessee under Major General James McPherson, had moved within artillery range of Atlanta and fired its first rounds, threatening the

Confederate Mine

Confederate cavalry defending the Georgia Railroad. Cleburne was diverted to support the cavalry, and the battle of Peachtree Creek was over. Hood had lost approximately three thousand men, twice the number of casualties suffered by the Union army, and the attack had gained nothing for the defenders of Atlanta. The impetuous new commander had failed in his initial attack in the open.

Hood faced the dilemma of the defender: he had to attempt to protect all approaches to Atlanta while defending each important target. Sherman had a great advantage and could pick and choose among weaker targets, attacking on his own schedule (as he had done with Johnston). Sherman underestimated the aggressive Hood, however, and was soon facing a renewed assault by the tired Confederates.

Hood had to contend with the possibility that McPherson would continue his march to the east of Atlanta, bypass the Confederate positions, and march into the city to capture it. Hood briefed his commanders on a plan that would get his troops into the rear of the Army of the Tennessee by attacking around McPherson's southern flank. The orders to begin a long, fifteen-mile march in the dark were issued to Hardee's divisions on July 21, but delays and tired men held up their arrival until noon on July 22. Hardee had made it into a position in McPherson's rear and opened the attack just after noon. Confederate divisions smashed into Federal defenders in an attack that caught Sherman off guard. He had been warned of Hood's movements, but the Union commander thought that they were the initial evacuation of Atlanta and was not alarmed. Fortunately for the Union commander, McPherson had ordered one of his corps commanders, Grenville Dodge, to move to positions on the Federal left flank and Dodge's XVI Corps was in position as Hardee's divisions struck.

To the left of this fighting, Cleburne's division located a gap in the Federal defensive line and nearly broke into the rear of the entire Union line before being forced back in severe combat. As the ferocity of Hardee's attack diminished, Hood finally ordered a supporting attack, but it was too late to make any difference in the outcome of the day's fighting. The Federal army lost heavily, however. General McPherson, a young West Point graduate and commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was killed as

General James Mcpherson Images
Major General James B. McPherson was the only Union army commander ever to die in battle.
General James Mcpherson Images

mishers from Cleburne's division as he tried to avoid capture, becoming the only commander of a Federal army to die in the war.

The battle continued through the remainder of the day, but the combative Hood's repeated attacks cost him nearly eight thousand men, more than twice his losses at Peachtree Creek only two days earlier. Sherman had also lost heavily: 3,722 men died, including General McPherson, for whom Sherman grieved.

By July 28, 1864, the Confederates held only a single railroad supply line into the city, the Macon and Western Railroad. Sherman planned to disrupt the railroad twenty miles south of Atlanta and moved two columns in a converging movement against it.

Hood moved four divisions to stop Sherman and approached Oliver O. Howard,

I'llUU'll UIIIWI H/lil UlUrcli. Howard chose good defensive positions and prepared for an attack. He was cautious and suspected that Hood, always a fighter, would be sending his divisions against him.

Howard's premonition had been right. Hood's men had been lured out of their fortifications a third time in only a few days. Stephen Lee, as aggressive as Hood, drove against the Federal field fortifications again

LEFT: Having earlier fought in the Army of the Potomac, General Oliver O. Howard fought in the Atlanta campaign and survived to become the founder of Howard University in Washington, D.C. BELOW: Union artillery positions surrounded Atlanta.

Union Army Atlanta

and again. By 5 p.m., the battle slowed to a halt and the Confederates had again lost heavily. About five thousand Confederates died in this engagement. (Overall, Hood had lost nearly one third of his men in the ten days he had been in command). Federal units, in the relative safety of their hastily constructed breastworks, lost only about six hundred men.

The Union army moved closer to Atlanta and began a heavy cannonade: five thousand shells struck the interior of the city. The citizens tried to survive the shelling by sheltering in dugout "bombproofs," but several died in the first bombardment. Sherman hoped to develop a new tactic to draw the rest of Hood's army out into the open where it could be destroyed, but the fighting settled down into a stalemate.

The doomed city still needed supplies, which had to be delivered over the railroad. Attacks against the railroads had brought Hood out before, so Sherman selected the Macon and Western Railroad as the next target and ordered his entire army to move to Jonesboro. Confederate scouts reported the departure of the Federal army from its positions and Hood thought this was a Union retreat, a grave miscalculation on his part.

Once again, the defenders of Atlanta were ordered to rush against the prepared defenses of the Union army. The Federal soldiers had all the time they needed to dig rifle pits and build fortifications as the Confederate army began to mass at Jonesboro on September 1.

RIGHT; TOP: General William T. Sherman pressed his armies forward in Georgia until Atlanta was besieged. Sherman, a practitioner of modern warfare, struck economic targets that were crucial to his enemy's ability to fight. RIGHT: The railroads that allowed supplies and produce to be shipped to the Confederate army were destroyed. Rails were heated and then bent, rendering the tracks useless.

The Supplies For The Confederate ArmyFactories Destroyed William Sherman
Hood's ordnance train was destroyed by fire; the Jlames destroyed a factory near Atlanta.

The fighting was severe and the Confederates suffered many casualties. They were learning the lesson Johnston had taught to Sherman early in the campaign. Union divisions behind the fortifications lost 179 men while the attackers lost 1,725—men Hood could not afford to lose. Worse still, Hardee had to face alone the onslaught of the

Federal army. A slow attack using just a single corps cost Sherman thirteen hundred men and an opportunity to trap Hardee's Confederate corps. Hardee's men began to slip away to the south of Atlanta at midnight and the rest of the defenders were also on the march. The city was being evacuated; Sherman had won.

Sherman sent a telegram to Lincoln on September 3, announcing the capture of the city, nearly ensuring the reelection of Lincoln in November. He had captured a vital rail and industrial center that supplied the Confederacy, but he had not been able to destroy Johnston's Confederate army as Grant had instructed him to do.

Confederate Army Tennessee

On November .30, 1864, tbe volatile Confederate General John II Hood ted the depleted Army of Tennessee against Union defenders commanded by Major General John Schofield in the city of Franklin, Tennessee. The Rebels were repulsed largely thanks to the bravery of Colonel Emerson Opdycke (wielding his spent pistol as a club) and the six regiments under his command.

Confederate Army Tennessee
Atlanta's Peachtree Street was severely damaged daring the Federal seige. An important city to the Confederacy because it was a center for industry and a transportation hub, Atlanta was the initial goal of General Sherman's army.

Johnston had shown his skill as a commander when faced with one of the most aggressive of the Union's generals. His strategy had been one of trading space for time while keeping his defenders well concentrated. It was probably the best approach for the Confederacy at this stage of the war. Their manpower and general resources could not sustain a maneuver campaign of attack such as that waged by Hood in the final days of the campaign. Hood had lost more men in ten days than Johnston had lost in the previous 118 days while delaying Sherman's approach toward Atlanta.

The sound of exploding ammunition and locomotives could be heard by the Federal troops at Jonesboro as the Confederate reserve ammunition was destroyed. Hood's army was so weak that Sherman could now virtually ignore it and proceed with his origi nal plan. He sent thirty thousand men back into Tennessee to defend the area against Hood's depleted Confederate divisions while he marched out of Atlanta with over sixty thousand men toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Hood attacked at Franklin, Tennessee, in a hopeless frontal assault against Federal entrenchments that cost the Confederacy the services of Patrick Cleburne, twelve other general officers, and eight thousand men. Hood was attacked at Nashville in a flawlessly planned battle orchestrated by George Thomas. The overextended Confederate line, concave to the enemy's front and denied the coveted interior lines, was severely defeated; in fact, the force was eliminated from the Civil War and the impetuous Hood was relieved from command.

Sherman moved from Atlanta after burning public buildings, destroying all of the railroads in the immediate vicinity, and forcing the city's population to evacuate. He did this to avoid the necessity of leaving a large garrison to control the city, which would reduce his available manpower. He then followed the example of Grant in the Vicksburg campaign by breaking away from his supply lines. He marched forward on a sixty-mile front with emergency rations for twenty days and intentions of living off the country until the Union army reached the seacoast, where they could be resupplied by the navy.

The strategy was simple: wage economic war on a scale similar to that being waged in the Shenandoah Valley by Sheridan, who was marching his divisions toward the Virginia theater of operations to reinforce Grant and eliminate Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Sherman arrived at Savannah, Georgia, on December 21 and offered the city to the nation as a Christmas present. He continued his destructive march, carrying the destruction and terror of the war directly to the Confederate population.

The key-point in the complex Atlanta campaign, however, had been the battle of Peachtree Creek. The decision to replace Joseph Johnston, a man who had designed an excellent strategy that efficiently used the meager resources available, with John Bell Hood, a combative, aggressive commander who had never had an independent command, had proven to be decisive.

Engaging the Union army in the open was suicidal, especially for Hood, who was untried at senior command and experienced only in aggressively executing the plans of others. His army, through poorly timed and often uncoordinated attacks, suffered heavy casualties. Davis' dislike of Johnston, combined with Hood's behind-the-scenes maneuvering, had cost the South dearly at Atlanta. And Hood continued to lose from that point onward in the campaign.

The war was entering the final year.

chapter chapter

Five Forks

Carrying Everything Before Them

he last year of the Civil War began and ended in much the same way. Grant was in front of Lee at Petersburg, defending Richmond, the Confederate capital, and Sherman was in Georgia moving to unite his forces with Grant. When Grant had crossed the Rapidan in May, both he and Lee were at the height of their military careers. Grant had won many major victories in the west and Lee had become a legend in the various campaigns in the eastern theater.

After crossing the Rapidan, Grant chose to move along Lee's right flank. Movement along this route allowed him to plan to resupply his forces along Virginia's tidewater rivers and the Chesapeake Bay rather than depend on an enormous wagon train, which would be complicated by the need to care for thousands of horses and mules. Understandably, Grant wanted to concentrate his forces and deploy them effectively in battle rather than use many of them to care for the supply animals.

The two opposing generals met on May 5 in the Battle of the Wilderness, in the same locale where Hooker had lost badly the year before. The fighting consisted of attack and counterattack in tangled brush that caught fire, killing many of the wounded (as had happened at Fort Donelson two years earlier). Lee attacked again on May 6, but neither side was able to gain a clear advantage.

It was at this point in Grant's career that he would show that he was different from all of the commanders of the Army of the Potomac who had served before him. They had always returned to the relative safety of the north side of the Rappahannock after an encounter with Lee, but Grant issued different orders. Ignoring his losses, and relying on his numerical superiority, Grant continued to march southward in an attempt to get between Lee and Richmond. Both armies raced for the vital crossroads at Spotsylvania, but Lee arrived first and began to construct fortifications, defenses behind which his men

Cold Harbor DisinterredConfedreate SoldiersremainsBattle Five Forks

PAGE 113: General Philip Sheridan was able to motivate everyone around him to do their very best. Grabbing his personal flag, he led a part of the attack at Five Forks. His magnetic, dynamic personality was irresistible. By illustration, Sheridan once told a severely wounded man to continue forward, which he did until he fell dead from his bleeding neck wound. ABOVE: The disinterment of the Union soldiers' remains from the Cold Harbor battlefield was a gruesome affair.

PAGE 113: General Philip Sheridan was able to motivate everyone around him to do their very best. Grabbing his personal flag, he led a part of the attack at Five Forks. His magnetic, dynamic personality was irresistible. By illustration, Sheridan once told a severely wounded man to continue forward, which he did until he fell dead from his bleeding neck wound. ABOVE: The disinterment of the Union soldiers' remains from the Cold Harbor battlefield was a gruesome affair.

would fight for the remainder of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg had bled the Confederate officer corps and army to the point that it could no longer maneuver in the open against strong forces like Grant's.

The field fortifications proved strong: the Army of the Potomac attacked them for four days, beginning on May 9, but the Confederates beat back each assault. On two separate occasions, Grant's army was able to break through and each time was unable to exploit the situation. Grant, however, had made a fateful decision at Spotsylvania and wrote to

General Halleck that he intended to "fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." The losses he had suffered and his inability to draw Lee's army into the open convinced Grant that the best strategy lay in moving his army to the south in an attempt to envelop Lee's right flank. This process of slipping south continued for the Federal army while Lee, with smaller numbers, skillfully moved to remain between the invading Federal army and Richmond.

By June 3, the armies faced one another at Cold Harbor, the site in 1862 of the Battle of Gaines' Mill, where Grant had attacked Lee's entrenched center with his infantry and suffered tremendous losses. Grant later admitted his error in ordering the costly attack at Cold Harbor: "Cold Harbor, I think, is the only battle I ever fought that I would not fight over again under the circumstances." The Battle of Cold Harbor completed a month of heavy fighting that cost the Federal army fifty-five thousand casualties and Lee thirty-two thousand. Grant continued to press his army to the south.

Once the Union army arrived at the James River, Grant's engineers built a twenty-one-hundred-foot pontoon bridge—the longest in history up to that time—and his entire army crossed to the south bank. Following his initial strategy, on June 18 Grant established a supply base, complete with a railroad, at City Point. He then began siege operations against the city of Petersburg, below Richmond, and continued to invest until the following year. Grant was able to view the war as a continuous battle as he clung closely and tenaciously to Lee's army. The war in Virginia had evolved into trench warfare, where siege guns and mortars were used extensively. The firepower and destructive potential of the modern, rifled weapons available to both sides had practically eliminated infantry charges as a battle tactic. Losses were simply too common for either side to attempt this approach. Cold Harbor had taught the commanders well.

Grant continued to move to cross Lee's southern flank and the Confederate army matched each of the Federal movements with new trenches and fortifications. Curiously, these two masters of mobile warfare, Lee and Grant, were reduced to maneuvering their fortifications. Lee had been drawn into a situation that he feared most, a protracted siege in the front of the Confederate capital, Richmond. Earlier in the year Lee had astutely observed to Jubal Early, "We must destroy

Propose Fight Out This Line
Grant proposed to "fight it out on this line if it takes all sum,„.„• " u.„

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Grant 's command. artillerymen who had been converted into infantrymen paid a heavy price in human life under entrenched soldiers outside Petersburg. VitginL ^eh^Zlle^ 17 71T ^ ^ ^

Grant 's command. artillerymen who had been converted into infantrymen paid a heavy price in human life under

Confederate Army

this army of Grant's before he gets to the James River. If he gets there, it will become a siege, and then it will be a mere question of time."

The stalemate in front of Petersburg continued through the winter. The spring campaign appeared to be the decisive period of the Civil War. Sheridan quickly eliminated Jubal Early's small army in the Shenandoah Valley and then moved his cavalry force to reinforce Grant, whose army required little support. Grant entered the new campaign with a tremendous superiority: 101,000 infantry, 14,700 cavalry, and nine thousand artillery. Lee was attempting to defend Petersburg with forty-six thousand infantry, six thousand cavalry, and five thousand artillery. Grant began to move—again extending to his left in an attempt to fix the position of Lee's flank—on March 29.

Grant had assumed that Lee would soon attempt to evacuate from his entrenched positions and march quickly to combine his forces with those under the command of Joseph Johnston, in nearby North Carolina.

ABOVE: Afier nearly ten months of deadly fighting in the trenches defending Petersburg, the Union army marched into the evacuated city and stacked their arms for a short, well-deserved rest. BELOW: Preparations bad been made in advance for the evacuation of Richmond. Unfortunately, exploding magazines spread fires across wide areas of the city, but Federal infantrymen and impressed civilians soon extinguished the flames.

Union Attacks Petersburg
Bloody fighting occurred when Union divisions began their final attacks against Confederate fortifications in front of Petersburg. Many Confederate soldiers had two rißes—as a rear rank loaded the spent guns, the front rank fired devastating volleys into the Union men.
Confederate Mine
Richmond had become an arsenal during the war. The capital and government buildings were within sight of arms depots that had been abandoned.

The concentration of these two relatively large Confederate armies could present a threat to the Army of the Potomac until Sherman arrived with his army. Thus, Grant developed plans to prevent Lee's withdrawal. A large infantry flanking force was ordered to press against the Confederate side and rear, drawing them from their trenches in an open battle, and at the same time, Sheridan was ordered to move his cavalry carefully to the rear of Lee and engage the Confederates there. If Lee's divisions could not be drawn out to fight, Sheridan was to destroy secondary targets, especially the Southside and Danville Railroads, thereby blocking a potential escape route and cutting Lee's last supply line.

As at Atlanta, the railroads were targets the Confederates had to defend. Lee reacted immediately to the Union attacks by sending Pickett's division to the threatened area. He also sent all of his available cavalry to assist in the defense of his right flank and vital rear areas. Sent on a reconnaissance in force, a division of Confederate infantry struck Warren's V Corps and general fighting on the southern end of the defensive line began. Grant, sensing an opportunity to bring on a full-scale engagement in which his superior numbers would prove decisive, changed Sheridan's orders. Sheridan's new target was the Confederate rear.

One of Sheridan's cavalry divisions ran into Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry at the road junction Five Forks. Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of the commanding general, deployed his men and skirmishing began as the weather changed. Heavy rain forced Grant to halt operations for the day, but the battle was only postponed for a short period. Sheridan's cavalry found Pickett's division in entrenched positions at Five Forks and the Confederates appeared to be prepared to fight. Grant sent Sheridan infantry support—V Corps under Major General Gouverneur Warren,

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