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DESTRUCTION OF UNION PRISONERS PROPOSED.
sidered in “cabinet” meeting, and Seddon, the Confederate “Secretary of War," wrote a letter to General Lee, asking his views concerning the matter, in which he said the contemplated murder had “the sanction of the President [Davis], the Cabinet, and General Bragg." General Lee had a good reason for not sanctioning such a proceeding then, for his own son was a captive, and held for retaliation whenever any Union prisoner should be put to death, and the plea that prevailed against it was, “It is cruelty to General Lee."
The Conspirators were also ready to commit a still more diabolical act, by directing Libby Prison to be blown up with gunpowder, with its crowd of captives, in the event of the latter attempting to escape. For the twofold purpose of “firing the Southern heart” and offering to mankind some justification for a deed so revolting, on the plea of retaliation, the Conspirators caused to be published what purported to be copies of papers found on the person of Dahlgren, comprising an address to his men, a special order and memoranda, in which it was avowed that the object of the expedition was to release the Union prisoners, and, with their aid, destroy the bridges at Richmond with torpedoes and fire, murder “Jeff. Davis and his cabinet," and burn the city. It must be remembered that Dahlgren was not killed until two days after Winder had “placed in readiness," according to the written testimony of one of Seddon's men, just cited, the powder for the massacre of the Union prisoners; so the plea of retaliation fails. It was afterward clearly proven that the papers were forgeries, based upon instructions and orders found in Dahlgren's pocket, which in letter and spirit were in perfect accordance with the rules and usages of honorable warfare. This invention of the Conspirators availed them nothing. It only added another stain to the black character of the rebellion, and with the relative preparations for murder at Libby Prison, presents another evidence of the wickedness of its leaders.
In Dahlgren's special order, found in his pocket, he said: “As General Custer may follow me, be careful not to give a false alarm.” This referred to an expedition on which Custer set out, for the purpose, chiefly, of diverting the attention of the Confederates from that of Kilpatrick. Custer crossed the Rapid Anna at Banks's Mills Ford, with fifteen hundred cavalry, in light marching order, flanked Lee's army on the west, and pushed rapidly on by way of Madison Court-House to the Rivanna River at Berner's Bridge, within four miles of Charlottesville,
. Feb. 27,
1 A Rebel War Clerk': [J. B. Jones] Diary, March 5, 1864. The Richmond press, in the interest of the Conspirators, strongly recommended the measure. “Let them die," said the Richmond Whig, not by courtmartial, not as prisoners, but as hostes humani generis by general order from the President, Commander-inChief."
? A Rebel War Clerk's Diary, March 2, 1864. “ Last night," says the Diary, “when it was supposed probable that the prisoners of war at the Libby might attempt to break out, General Winder ordered that a large amount of powder be placed under the building, with instructions to blow them up if the attempt were made." Seddon would not give a written order for the diabolical work to be done, but he said, significantly, “the prisoners must not be allowed to escape, under any circumstances;" " which," says the diarist, " was considered sanction enough. Captain obtained an order for and procured several hundred pounds of gunpowder which was placed in readiness. Whether the prisoners were advised of this I know not; but I told Captain
it would not be justifiable to spring such a mine in the absence of their knowledge of the fate awaiting them in the event of their attempting to break out, because such prisoners are not to be condemned for striving to regain their liberty. Indeed it is the duty of a prisoner of war to escape if he can."
3 These consisted of detachments from the First, Second, and Fifth Regulars, Sixth Ohio, Sixth Pennsylvania, First New York, and First New Jersey.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC REORGANIZED.
. March 8,
where he was checked by a superior force, with a battery. Then he turned northward, in the direction of Stannardsville, skirmishing at times with Confederate cavalry, and then returned to camp, followed by a large number of refugees from slavery. This menace of the railway communication with the Shenandoah Valley, and the attacks on Richmond, produced the greatest alarm. When the danger disappeared, General Elzy,' in command
at the Confederate capital,“ issued a congratulatory order, that produced a pleasant quietude in the public mind, which was but
little disturbed again until Lieutenant-General Grant made his appearance, at the beginning of May, like a baleful meteor in the firmament.
We have seen that Lieutenant-General Grant, in his first order after assuming chief command, declared his head-quarters to be with the Army
of the Potomac “until further orders.” A week afterward he
arrived in Washington City from the West, with a portion of his domestic and military families, and went immediately to the head-quarters of General Meade at Culpepper Court-House, where, on the following day, the Army of the Potomac was reorganized by consolidating and reducing the five army corps to three, named the Second, Fifth, and Sixth. These were respectively, in the order named, placed under the commands of Generals Hancock, Warren, and Sedgwick. Generals Sykes, Newton, French, Kenly, Spinola, and Meredith, were relieved and sent to Washington for orders. General Burnside, who, since his retirement from the command of the Army of the Ohio, at Knoxville, in December, had been at Annapolis, in Maryland, reorganizing and recruiting his old Ninth Corps, was ready for the field at the middle of April. His corps (composed partly of colored troops) was reviewed by the President on the 23d of that month, when it passed into Virginia and joined the Army of the Potomac. With this accession of force, that army, at the close of April, numbered over one hundred thousand men. Re-enforcements had been pouring in during that month, and before its close Grant and Meade had perfected their arrangements for a grand advance of the Army of the Potomac and its auxiliaries.”
1 See page 896, volume II.
? Hancock's (Second) corps consisted of four divisions, commanded respectively by Generals F. C. Barlo, J. Gibbon, D. B. Birney. and J. B. Carr. His brigade commanders were Generals A. S. Webb, J. P. Owen, J. H. Ward, A. Hayes, and G. Mott; and Colonels N. A. Miles, T. A. Smythe, R. Frank, J. R. Brooke, S. S. Carroll, and W. R. Brewster. Colonel J. C. Tidball was chief of artillery, and Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Morgan was chiel of staff.
Warren's (Fifth) corps consisted of four divisions, commanded respectively by Generals C. Griffin, J. C. Robinson, S. W. Crawford, and J. S. Wadsworth. The brigade commanders were Generals J. Barnes, J. J. Bartlett, R. B. Ayres. H. Baxter, L Cutler, and J. C. Rice; and Colonels Leonard, Dennison, W. McCandless, J. W. Fisher, and Roy Stone. Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. Bankhead, chief of staff; Colonel C. S. Wainwright, chief of artillery.
Sedgwick's (Sixth) corps comprised three divisions, commanded respectively by Generals H. G. Wright, G. W. Getty, and H. Prince. The brigade commanders were Generals A. T. A. Torbert, A. Shaler, F. Wheaton, T. H. Neill, A. L. Eustis, and D. A. Russell; and Colonels E. Upton, H. Burnham, and L. A. Grant. Chief of staff, Lieutenant-Colonel M. T. McMahon; chief of artillery, Colonel C. H. Tompkins.
The reserve park of artillery was under the chief direction of General H. J. Hunt, chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, and under the immediate command of Colonel H. S. Burton. A brigade of engineers and the pontoon trains were placed in charge of Major J. C. Duane; and the vast park of supply-wagons were under the direction of General Rufus Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster.
The cavalry of the entire army was consolidated, and General Philip H. Sheridan, of the Regular Infantry, was placed in command of it; and General Kilpatrick was assigned to the command of the cavalry of Sherman's army in Northern Georgia. General Pleasantop was ordered to report to General Rosecrans, in Missouri, where we have just observed him engaged in chasing Price out of that State.
3 The staff of General Grant was nearly thirty less in number than that of General McClellan, and was composed of fourteen officers, as follows: Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins, chief of staff; Lieutenant-Colonel
The general plan for the advance was for the main army to make an overland march from the Rapid Anna to the James, with co-operating or auxiliary forces menacing communications with Richmond from different points. For the latter purpose General Butler was to advance from Fortress Monroe with about thirty thousand troops, establish himself in an intrenched position in the vicinity of City Point, at the junction of the Appomattox River with the James, whence he might operate, either against Richmond directly, or its communications, or effect a junction with the Army of the Potomac marching down from the North, as circumstances might require. Another force was organized for the purpose of menacing the westward communications with Richmond. This force was to be composed of the army of General Franz Sigel, then engaged in protecting Western Virginia and the frontiers of Maryland and Pennsylvania. He was to form his army into two columns, one of them, about ten thousand strong, under General Crook, to march up from the Kanawha region and operate against the Virginia and East Tennessee railway, and the other, about seven thousand strong, under Sigel, in person, to go up the Shenandoah Valley as far as possible, and, by thus menacing Lee's westward lines of supply, compel him to send detachments for their protection, and thereby weaken his forces opposed to the Army of the Potomac. Lee's army was then occupying a line nearly twenty miles on each side of Orange Court-House, its left covered by the Rapid Anna and mountains near, and its right by a strong line of works on Mine Run, which he had strengthened since Meade's threat in November.' The corps of Ewell and Hill composed the bulk of Lee's army near the Rapid Anna, while Longstreet's corps, lately returned from East Tennessee, was in the vicinity of Gordonsville, within easy supporting distance of Lee.
Such was the general position of the opposing forces in Virginia on the first of May, when Lieutenant-General Grant gave orders for an advance of the great armies of Meadeand Sherman, to operate against the rebellion, in
T. S. Bowers and Captain E. S. Parker, assistant adjutants-general; Lieutetiant-Colonel C. B. Cornstock, senior aid-de-camp; Lieutenant-Colonels Orville E. Babcock, F. T. Dent, Horace Porter, and Captain P. T. Hudson, aids-de-camp; Lieutenant-Colonel W. L. Dupp, assistant inspector-general; Lieutenant-Colonels W. R. Rowley and Adam Badeau, secretaries; Captain George K. Leet, assistant adjutant-general, in office at Washington: Captain H. W. Janes, assistant quartermaster, on duty at head-quarters, and First-Lieutenant William Dunn, acting aid-de-camp. General Meade's chief of staff was Major-General A. A. Humphreys, and Brigadier-General Seth Williams was his adjutant-general,
i See page 111.
? On the 3d of May, General Meade issued the following order to the Army of the Potomac, which was read to every regiment:
“SOLDIERS :- Again you are called upon to advance on the enemies of your country. The time and the occasion are deemed opportune by your commanding general to address you a few words of confidence and caution.
You have been reorganized, strengthened, and fully equipped in every respect. Yon form a part of the several I armies of your country—the whole under an able and distinguished general, who enjoys the confidence of the
Government, the people, and the arıny. Your movement being in co-operation with others, it is of the utmost importance that no effort should be spared to make it snccessful.
- Soldiers ! The eyes of the whole country are looking with anxions hope to the blow you are about to strike in the most sacred cause that ever called men to arms. Reinember your homes, your wives, and children ; and bear in mind that the sooner your eneinies are overcome, the sooner you will be returned to enjoy the benefits and blessings of peace. Bear with patience the hardships and sacrifices you will be called upon to endure. Have confidence in your officers and in each other.
** Keep your ranks on the march and on the battle-field, and let cach man earnestly implore God's blessing, and endeavor, by his thoughts and actions, to render himself worthy of the favor he seeks. With clear conscience and strong arms, actuated by a high sense of duty, fighting to preserve the Government and the institutions handed down to us by our forefathers, if true to ourselves, victory, under God's blessing, must and will attend our efforts."
GRANT'S IDEAS ABOUT MAKING WAR.
accordance with a plan which his view of the necessity of the case suggested, and which he so clearly set forth in his final general report, saying:
“From an early period in the rebellion I had been impressed with the idea that active and continuous operations of all the troops that could be brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary to a speedy termination of the war. The resources of the enemy, and his numerical strength, were far inferior to ours; but, as an offset to this, we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the Government, to garrison, and long lines of river and railroad communication to protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies.
“The armies in the East and West acted independently and without concert, like a balky team, no two ever pulling together, enabling the enemy to use to great advantage his interior line of communication, for transporting troops from east to west, re-enforcing the army most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of producing, for the support of their armies. It was a question whether our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.
"From the first I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both North and South, until the military power of the rebellion was entirely broken. I therefore determined, first, to use the greatest number of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy, preventing him from using the same force at different seasons against, first one and then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance. Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the Constitution and laws of the land.”
Grant felt encouraged to work in accordance with these views, for the loyal people everywhere evinced entire confidence in him, and a disposition to furnish him with all necessary materials for making a vigorous and deci
sive campaign. Volunteering was rapidly increasing; and on the
21st of Aprilthe Governors of the younger States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, tendered to the President the services of one hundred thousand men, for one hundred days, without requiring any
bounty to be paid or the service charged or credited on any April 23.
draft. This patriotic offer was accepted, and the Secretary of War was directed to carry the proposition of the Governors into effect.
ADVANCE OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
ADVANCE OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC ON RICHMOND.
N the evening of the 3d of May, 1864, the Army of the Potomac was ready to advance, and at midnight it moved toward the Rapid Anna in two columns, the right from near Culpepper Court-House, and the left from Stevensburg. The right was composed of the corps of Warren (Fifth) and Sedgwick (Sixth); and the left, of the Second, under Hancock. The right
was led by Warren, preceded by Wilson's cavalry division, and, on the morning of the 4th, crossed the Rapid Anna at Germania Ford, followed, during the forenoon, by Sedgwick's corps. The left, preceded by Gregg's cavalry, and followed by the entire army-train of wagons, four thousand in number, crossed at Elly's Ford at the same time.
The right column pushed directly into The Wilderness, and Warren, with Wilson's cavalry thrown out in the direction of Robertson's Tavern,' bivouacked that night at the Old Wilderness Tavern, while Sedgwick encamped near the river. The left column pushed on to Chancellorsville, and bivouacked the same night on the battle-field around it, with Gregg's cavalry thrown out toward Todd's Tavern. Burnside's (Ninth) corps, which had been lying on the Rappahannock, intended, it was supposed, as a reserve for the defense of Washington City, had now moved rapidly for
"May, 1864 ward, and, on the morning of the 5th,' crossed the Rapid Anna at Germania Ford, and joined the Army of the Potomac, into which it was afterward incorporated.
Full one hundred thousand men, fresh and hopeful, with the immense army-train, were now across the Rapid Anna, and well on the flank of the Confederate army lying behind the strong intrenchments on Mine Run. In this advance the Nationals had met no opposition, and it was an achievement, Grant said, which removed from his mind the most serious apprehensions which he had entertained concerning the crossing of the river "in the face of an active, large, well-appointed, and ably commanded army.”4 He now felt confident that by another day's march the Army of the Potomac
1 See map on page 111.
3 See page 24. • Report of Lieutenant-General Grant of the Armies of the United States, 1861–5, page 6. General Grant took occasion at the outset of the report to refer to the anomalous position of General Meade, who was the commander of the Army of the Potomac. He says he tried to leave General Meade in independent command of the army. His instructions were all given through Meade. They were general in their nature, leaving all the details to him. “The campaigns that followed," Grant said, “proved him to be the right man in the right place." His commanding in the presence of an officer of superior rank drew from him much of the publlo attention.