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part of our line, advanced and forced the enemy away from the position. The hill was again occupied, strongly fortified and held securely. A flag of truce was flying during a portion of the afternoon of the 7th, for the burial of the dead and the removal of the wounded. But the enemy in front of the Ninth Corps did not appear to notice it, and even fired upon those who were assumed to be under its protection.
The four following days passed without event, with the exception of the retirement of General Crittenden, who was relieved at his own request from the command of the first division. Brigadier General Ledlie was assigned to the command by seniority of rank. Events proved it to be an unfortunate substitution. The usual amount of picket and artillery firing was kept up, and the working parties on both sides were greatly annoyed. Beyond that, small damage was done. Within the lines, it became manifest to all the soldiers in the army that another flanking movement by the left was contemplated. General Grant decided to place the Army of the Potomac on the south side of the James-an object which, he declares in his report, he had "from the start." He had hoped to have beaten General Lee before he did this; but whether General Lee was beaten or not, the point to take Richmond was certainly from the south. Accordingly, the railroad from West Point was dismantled and supplies were diverted to City Point. The cavalry was sent off in various directions to cut the enemy's communications, and the army moved. On the night of the 12th it began its march, and the great campaign in Virginia north of the James river was ended.
In reviewing these grand movements, extending over more than five weeks of time, almost every hour of which witnessed a combat at some point, it is impossible not to admire the wonderful resolution and bravery displayed on both sides. General Grant, in one of his despatches, says that the enemy seemed "to have found his last ditch." But if General Lee exhibited great capacity for defence, he soon discovered that he had met with more than his match in the tenacity, the determination
and skill with which General Grant pushed on his aggressive operations. General Lee was very greatly aided by the peculiar formation of the country; rivers crossing the lines of march almost at right angles; forests of vast extent, which afforded concealment for the movements of an army on its defence or retreating; marshes which could be used for the protection of positions selected for a stand; hills, each one of which could speedily be made to become a fort; and all these strengthened by all the appliances of engineering skill which had leisurely constructed defensive works in view of just this contingency, or had hastily thrown them up as the emergency demanded. But all his skill, his ability, his resources, the advantages of his chosen positions, the very favorable opportunities which the natural features of the country supplied, were of little avail except to postpone defeat for a season. In the end they were compelled to give way before the indomitable will, the resistless and steady advance, the undaunted spirit, the matchless persistence and energy of General Grant and his army.
It is true, that the advance was slow, and that every mile was marked with brave men's blood. But still the advance was made. Positions which could not be successfully assailed without vast expenditure of human life, were turned by those flank marches in the face of an enemy, which, under the lead of unskilful men, are sure to result disastrously, but which, when made by a man of genius, are as successful as great battles won. In all these operations, the Ninth Corps participated in a manner to reflect the highest honor upon all its officers and men, and especially so upon its hopeful General and his division commanders. No campaign during the progress of the war was at all so severe in its demands upon human endurance and human courage as those forty days of marching and fighting. To say that the Ninth Corps in every position did all that was required of it, and commensurately suffered, is to declare sufficient praise for the living and the dead. More than onefourth of the number of those who had crossed the Rapidan had been killed or disabled from service. In the second and
third divisions, the reports of Generals Potter and Willcox state the losses to have been four thousand five hundred and thirty-two killed, wounded and missing. The losses in the first division were proportionately great. The remainder of the Army of the Potomac suffered in an equal degree.
The question whether General Grant could have placed his command on the south side of the James, without the great sacrifices which he was thus compelled to make, has often been discussed. With the army of General Lee confronting him on the Rapidan, and ready to improve every advantage which a false step on our part would give, a movement of General Grant's army to Alexandria or Aquia Creek, and thence by water to the James River, would have been very hazardous to the Capital and its defenders themselves. It was necessary to cover Washington while attacking Richmond. But Richmond was not so much the objective point as was General Lee's army. General Grant hoped to defeat General Lee as soon as he could bring him to action in the open field. But the Army of Northern Virginia was on ground with which its generals were perfectly familiar, and was not so easily to be beaten as was supposed. It is possible that General Lee may also have thought that he was to win an easy victory. He accordingly attacked with confidence in the Wilderness. But the very significant fact is to be observed, that he did not attack afterwards. From that moment, he fought defensive battles, and did not venture upon aggressive movements. Not even while General Grant was making his hazardous flank marches did the enemy dare to make more than feeble demonstrations. When, therefore, General Grant reached the James, he had an army in front of him, which considered itself safe only behind its defensive works. This was the result of General Grant's continuous "hammering"-and it was a great result. Moreover, the railroads leading to Washington from the south were destroyed or rendered useless, and the Capital was thus safe from serious attack. The difference between General McClellan's and General Grant's positions on the Peninsula was this:
the former found an enemy always ready to give, the latter found an enemy ready only to receive, battle. In war, success is the chief test of power. General Grant's magnificent success is a complete justification of the wisdom of his plans.
What if the Ninth Corps had been sent to North Carolina, and the grand interior line of communication broken between Richmond and the extreme South? A movement against Wilmington, Goldsboro' or Raleigh certainly seemed promising, and when it was finally made, proved most effectual. What if General Burnside had been sent to City Point, and the movement against Petersburg entrusted to him? It is not the design of this work to discuss probabilities. But, judging from the opinion which General Burnside had long before formed respecting the importance of a movement upon Petersburg, it is certain that he would have bent all his energies to achieve a complete success. But there is another question. What if the Ninth Corps had not reënforced the Army of the Potomac at the battle of the Wilderness? The result of the first day's fighting there was anything but promising. What the result of the second day would have been without the presence of the Ninth Corps, of course it is impossible to say. But that the reenforcement was most opportune, that it strengthened the disordered lines of General Grant, that it aided materially in checking the enemy, and gave General Grant confidence in his ability to cope successfully with his resolute antagonist, there can be no question. Whatever disappointment may have been felt by General Burnside or any of his officers, in the relinquishment of a coastwise expedition, was entirely lost in the satisfaction of knowing that the Ninth Corps was affording the Lieutenant General a very great assistance in carrying his plans to a triumphant conclusion.
IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG.
HE movement to the south side of the James, and the
to the front of Petersburg, has been universally considered as a master piece of military skill. Petersburg was in reality the citadel of Richmond, and would carry with it in its fall the fate of the Rebel Capital. It is curious to observe the series of disappointments to which General Grant was subjected in his operations against this important point. In the first place, General Butler failed to make any impression upon the line of communication between Richmond and Petersburg. Again, while General Grant was holding all the enemy's available force around Richmond, he ordered General Butler to send out a force against Petersburg. General Gillmore was despatched, on the 10th of June, to attack the city from the east, and General Kautz, with a division of cavalry, to make a detour and attack from the south. The works were held only by the local militia and a few troops of Wise's Legion. General Kautz was brilliantly successful, actually entering the city. General Gillmore was ingloriously unsuccessful. He marched up to a point where he could see the spires of the city, observed the defences, turned about and retired to Bermuda Hundred. General Kautz, deprived of his coöperating force, was obliged to loosen his grasp upon the prize, and also retired. Once more, as a preliminary to the movement of the army to the south of Richmond, the eighteenth corps was directed particularly against Petersburg. General Smith's command was put on transports at the White House and arrived at Bermuda