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the front; for Meade had the pride of corps strongly implanted in his heart.
Major-General A. E. Burnside, whom I had last seen at Knoxville, in December, was in command of the Ninth Army Corps. Immediately after the siege of Knoxville, at his own request, Burnside had been relieved of the command in East Tennessee by MajorGeneral John G. Foster. The President, somehow, always showed Burnside great respect and good will. After Grant's plans for the spring campaign were made known, the Ninth Corps was moved by rail to Annapolis, where it was recruited up to about 25,000 men. As the time for action neared, it was set in motion, and by easy marches reached and reinforced the Army of the Potomac on the morning of the 6th of May, in the midst of the battle of the Wilderness. It was not formally incorporated with that army until later; but, by a sort of fiction, was held as a distinct army, Burnside acting in concert with Grant, and receiving his orders directly from him, as did Meade. These two armies were the excuse for Grant's
personal presence without actually superseding Meade.
In my opinion, the great soldier of the Army of the Potomac was General Humphreys. He was the chief of staff to General Meade, and was a strategist, a tactician, and an engineer. Humphreys was a fighter, too, and in this an exception to most engineers. He was a very interesting figure. He used to ride about in a black felt hat, the brim of which was turned down all around, making him look like a Quaker. He was very pleasant to deal with, unless you were fighting against him, and then he was not so pleasant. He was one of the loudest swearers that I ever knew. The men of distinguished and brilliant profanity in the war were General Sherman and General Humphreys-I could not mention any others to be classed with them. General Logan was a strong swearer, but he was not a West Pointer: he was a civilian. Sherman and Humphreys would swear to make everything blue, when some despatch had not been delivered correctly, or they were provoked.
GENERAL GEORGE GORDON MEADE, COMMANDER OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC FROM JUNE 28, 1863, UNTIL
GRANT'S PLAN OF CAMPAIGN IN 1864.
Humphreys was a very charming man, and morning; for when our advance reached. quite destitute of vanity. I think he had con- Spotsylvania Court House, it found Lee's sented to go and serve with Meade as chief troops there, ready to dispute the right of of staff out of pure patriotism. He pre- way with us, and two days later Grant was ferred an active command, and, eventually, obliged to fight the battle of Spotsylvania on the eve of the end, succeeded to the before we could make another move south. command of the Second Corps, and bore a It is no part of my present plan to go into conspicuous part in the Appomattox cam- detailed description of the battles of this paign. campaign, but rather to recall incidents and deeds which impressed me most deeply at the moment. In the battle of Spotsylvania, a terrific struggle, with many dramatic features, there is nothing I remember more distinctly than a little scene in General Grant's tent between him and a captured Confederate officer, General Edward Johnson. The battle had begun on the morning of May 10th, and had continued all day. On the 11th the armies had rested, but at halfpast four on the morning of the 12th, fighting had been begun by an attack by Hancock on a rebel salient. Hancock attacked with his accustomed impetuosity, storming and capturing the enemy's fortified line, with some 4,000 prisoners and twenty cannon. The captures included nearly all of Major-General Edward Johnson's division, together with Johnson himself and General George H. Steuart.
Meade was in command of the Army of the Potomac, but it was Grant, the Lieutenant-General of the Armies of the United States, who was really directing its movements. The central idea of the campaign had not developed to the army when I reached headquarters, but it was soon clear to everybody. Grant's great operation was the endeavor to interpose the Federal army between Lee's army and Richmond, so as to cut Lee off from his base of supplies. He meant to get considerably in advance of Lee -between him and Richmond-thus compelling Lee to leave his intrenchments and hasten southward. If in the collision thus forced Grant found that he could not smash Lee, he meant to make another move to get behind his army. That was to be the strategy of the campaign of 1864. That was CURIOUS MEETING OF GRANT AND JOHNSON. what Lee thwarted, though he had a narrow escape more than once.
The previous history of the Army of the Potomac had been to advance and fight a battle, then either to retreat or lie still, and finally to go into winter quarters. The men had become so accustomed to this that few, if any, of them believed that the new commander-in-chief would be able to do differently from his predecessors. I remember distinctly the sensation in the ranks when the rumor first went around that our position was south of Lee's. It was the morning of May 8th. The night before, the army had made a forced march on Spotsylvania Court House. There was no indication the next morning that Lee had moved in any direction. As the army began to realize that we were really moving south, and at that moment were probably much nearer Richmond than was our enemy, the spirits of men and officers rose to the highest pitch of animation. On every hand I heard the cry, "On to Richmond."
But there were to be a great many more obstacles to our reaching Richmond than General Grant himself, I presume, realized on May 8, 1864. We met one that very
I was at Grant's headquarters when General Johnson was brought in a prisoner. He was a West Pointer, had been a captain in the old army before secession, and was an important officer in the Confederate service, having distinguished himself in the Valley in 1863, and at Gettysburg. Grant had not seen him since they had been in Mexico together. The two men shook hands cordially, and at once began a brisk conversation, which was very interesting to me, because nothing was said in it on the subject in which they were both most interested just then, that is, the fight that was going on and the surprise that Hancock had effected. It was the past alone of which they talked.
It was quite early in the morning when Hancock's prisoners were brought in. The battle raged without cessation throughout the day. The results of the struggle were that we crowded the enemy out of some of his most important positions and weakened him by losses of between 6,000 and 7,000 men killed, wounded, and captured, besides taking many battle flags and much artillery, and that our troops rested upon the ground they had fought for.
thick with dead and wounded men, among whom the relief corps was at work. The earth, which was soft from the heavy rains.
ON THE SPOTSYLVANIA BATTLE-FIELD.
After the battle was over and firing had we had been having before and during the
nearly ceased, Raw
lins and I went out to ride over the field. We went first to the salient which Hancock had attacked in the morning. The two armies had struggled for hours for this point, and the loss had been so terrific that the place has always been known since as the "Bloody Angle." The ground around the salient had been trampled and cut in the struggle until it was almost impassable for one on horseback; so Rawlins and I dismounted, and climbed up the bank, over the outer line of the rude breastworks. Within we saw a fence over which earth evidently had been banked, but which now was bare and half down. It was here the fighting had been fiercest. We picked our way to this fence, and stopped to look over the scene. The night was coming on, and, after the horrible din of the day, the silence was intense: nothing broke it but distant and occasional firing, or the low groans of the wounded. I remember that as I stood there I was almost startled to hear a bird twittering in a tree. All around us the underbrush and trees had been riddled and burnt. The ground was
battle, had been trampled by the fighting of the thousands of men until it was soft like thin hasty pudding. Beyond the fence against which we leaned lay a great pool of this mud, its surface as smooth as that of a pond. As we stood there looking silently down at it, of a sudden the leg of a man was lifted up from the pool, and the mud. dripped off his boot. It was SO unexpected, so horrible, that for a moment
we were stunned. Then we pulled ourselves together and called to some soldiers near by to rescue the owner of the leg. They pulled him out with but little trouble, and discovered that he was not dead, only wounded. He was taken to the hospital, where he got well, I believe.
The first news which passed through the ranks the morning after the battle of Spotsylvania was that Lee had abandoned his position during the night. Though our army was greatly fatigued from the enormous efforts of the day before, the news of Lee's departure inspired the men with fresh energy, and everybody was eager to be in pursuit. Our skirmishers soon found the enemy along the whole
GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE, COMMANDER OF THE CONFEDER-
line, however, and the conclusion was that their retrograde movement had been made to correct their position after the loss of the key-points taken from them the day before, and that they were still with us, in a new line as strong as the old one. Of course, we could not determine this point without a battle, and nothing was done that day to provoke one. It was necessary to rest the
The two armies were then lying in a semicircle, the Federal left well around to the
south. We were concentrated to the last degree, and, so far as we could tell, Lee's forces were equally compact. On the 15th, 16th, and 17th, we lay in about the same position. This inactivity was caused by the weather: a pouring rain had begun on the 11th, and had continued until the morning of the 16th; the mud was so deep that any offensive operation, however successful, could not be followed up. There was nothing to do but lie still and wait for better weather and drier roads.
While waiting for the rain to stop, we had time to consider the field returns of losses which were handed in. The army had left winter quarters at Culpeper Court House on May 4th, and on May 16th the total of killed, wounded, and missing in the Army of the Potomac and the Ninth Corps amounted to a little over 33,000 men. The missing alone numbered 4,900, but some of these were in fact killed or wounded. When Grant looked over the returns, he expressed great regret at the loss of so many men. Meade, who was with him, remarked, I remember, "Well, General, we can't do these little tricks without losses."
By the afternoon of May 17th, the weather was splendid, and the roads were rapidly becoming dry, even where the mud was worst. Grant determined to engage Lee, and orders for a decisive movement of the army were issued, to be executed during the night. The attempt was a failure. Lee was not to be ousted; and Grant, convinced of it, issued orders for another movement, which he had had in contemplation for several days, but which he did not wish to try till after a last attempt to get the enemy out of his stronghold. This was nothing less than to slip away from Lee and march on to Richmond again.
The new movement was begun on the night of the 20th. We had anticipated that Lee, discovering our plans, would try to stop our advance, or at least attack our rear; but he did nothing of the kind. The army was withdrawn absolutely without interruption, and by the morning of the 22d the whole force was south of the Mattapony River. We were now in a fine, clear country, good to move and fight in, and the advance of the 22d was most successful. The operations of the next day were much embarrassed by our ignorance of the road and the entire incorrectness of our maps. Nevertheless, by one o'clock in the afternoon, our right wing reached the North Anna. The rest of the army was soon up, and concerted effort was making to cross the stream, which was soon effected. But now, for the first time, Lee blocked our southward march.
By the morning of the 25th, Grant was sure that Lee was before him and strongly intrenched. He soon determined on a new move. This was to withdraw his whole army as quickly as possible, and, before Lee discovered his intention, to move it southeast,
across the Pamunkey, and perhaps on across the Chickahominy and the James. The orders for the new move were received with the best spirits by the army, in spite of the fact that the men were much jaded.
Indeed, one of the most important results of the campaign thus far was the entire change which had taken place in the feelings of the armies. The Confederates had lost all confidence, and were already morally defeated. Our army had learned to believe that it was sure of ultimate victory. Even our officers had ceased to regard Lee as an invincible military genius. On the part of the enemy this change was evinced, not only by their not attacking, even when circumstances seemed to invite it, but by the unanimous statements of prisoners taken from them. I never saw more discouraged men than some of those we captured in our efforts to get across the North Anna. Lee had deceived them, they said, and they declared that his army would never fight again except behind breast works.
The morning after we began to move from our position on the North Anna, I was so confident that I wrote Mr. Stanton: "Rely upon it, the end is near as well as sure."
It was on the night of the 26th that our army was withdrawn from the North Anna. By midnight of the 28th, the troops were all across the Pamunkey and occupying a new position of great strength. The movement had been executed with admirable celerity, and officers and men were in high spirits. The question now was, Where is Lee? By the 30th, we discovered that he was close at hand and strongly intrenched. General Grant wanted to fight, but he declared he would not run his head against heavy works, and so on that day he began to push his lines ahead. This southward move drew Lee out of his breast works, but we did not succeed in bringing on a battle. There was fighting, to be sure, and we suffered heavy losses; but before we were ready for a general engagement, Lee was again concentrated and intrenched on our front.
The battle Grant sought did not come until June 3d-that of Cold Harbor. Then, by his order, an early morning attack was made on Lee's line. From half-past four in the morning until half-past one in the afternoon, the struggle to break the rebel line. continued, with fearful loss to our army. When convinced that success was impossible, Grant ordered the movement suspended, and the army settled back into position. Again it was evident that Lee