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THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR.

CHAPTER I.

Condition of the Confederacy in the early summer. of 1864.-The expectations and hopes of the South.-GRANT'S "ON TO RICHMOND."-Ulysses S. Grant and his command. His services and character.-THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS.-A heroic stand.-Heth's and Wilcox's divisions.-A critical conjuncture.-Grant's whole army on the threshold of ruin.-Grant's change of front and General Lee's new line. The Northern newspapers go into ecstasies.-THE BATTLES OF SPOTTSYLVANIA COURTHOUSE.-A crisis.-A thrilling scene.-"General Lee to the rear !”— Six days of battle.-Grant's obstinacy.-Sheridan's expedition.-A fight at Yellow Tavern.-Death of General "Jeb" Stuart.-Butler's movement up the James.— Beauregard drives him to Bermuda Hundred.-" The Buzzard and the Falcon."THE ENEMY'S OPERATIONS IN WESTERN VIRGINIA.-The combination there.-Three movements.-Sigel's defeat at Newmarket.-McCausland checks Crook at Dublin Depot.-Morgan defeats Averill at Wytheville.-Grant moves down the Valley of the Rappahannock.-Engagements near Hanover Junction.-Grant crosses the Pamunkey. He is within a few miles of Richmond.-The true theory of his movements, defeat, not victory.-His immense losses.-Lee's admirable movements and positive successes.-Nonsense of the newspapers.

THE spirit of the Southern Confederacy was scarcely ever more buoyant than in the month of May, 1864. The confidence of its people in the ultimate accomplishment of their independence was so firm and universal, that any other conclusion was but seldom referred to in general conversation or in the prevision of one's private affairs; and in Richmond and elsewhere the hope was freely indulged that the campaign of 1864 was to be decisive of the war, and to crown the efforts of the South with peace and independence.

There had been abundant occasion for this revival of confidence in the public mind of the Confederacy. The winter just past had been one of a large aggregate of success to the Confederate arms. Several brilliant expeditions had been planned and accomplished by them; while on the enemy's side all the work he had cut out for the winter had come to grief, and every one of his elaborate enterprises in that season had failed,

with a concurrence of disaster most remarkable in the history of the war.

The invasion of Florida had been a shocking failure. Thomas had been repulsed in North Georgia, and was held completely in check there. Sherman's grand expedition in the Southwest and his famous experiment of "the strategic triangle" had come to the most absurd and disastrous conclusion-" Half of his army," said this chieftain, "went to Memphis and half went to h-11." Banks's proposed conquest of the TransMississippi had been to the Confederates the occasion of that celebrated Red River campaign, the most glorious in the pages of their history, in which they not only reclaimed the coast and frontier of the Trans-Mississippi, but left the Massachusetts hero scarcely more of Louisiana than was covered by his pickets. And there had been other positive successes on the Confederate side. Forrest, by long and rapid marches, had spread terror along the banks of the Mississippi, and cut a swath across the State of Kentucky; and on the eastern frontier the expeditions of Pickett and of Hoke had been brilliant events for the Confederacy, leaving the enemy only two places, Washington and Newbern, on the coast of North Carolina.

No wonder that the events of this winter were accepted by the Confederates as happy auguries for the ensuing campaign, and fresh occasions of hope and confidence. Their internal affairs, too, had improved along with this current of military success. The army had been replenished by an enlarged conscription; a happy revolution was already going on in the finances under the operation of the law which curtailed the currency thirty-three per cent.; supplies had been accumulated during the winter, and the storehouses of Richmond were filled to bursting with the subsistence that had been gathered, through the course of several months, for the great campaign in Virginia.

Such were the extraordinary prospects with which the Confederacy entered upon the summer campaign of 1864. A general opinion had taken possession of the public mind that the North would make its grand effort in this year for the conquest of the South; and that even negative results would be fatal to the enemy, as they would be insufficient to appease the grow ing popular impatience of the war in the North, or sustain any

new demand of the government at Washington for men and

means.

This opinion was right, at least so far as it contemplated an extraordinary exertion on the part of the North. Two grand campaigns for the summer of 1864 had been claborately planned at Washington. They were the parallel operations of Grant and Sherman in Virginia and in Georgia.

GRANT'S " ON TO RICHMOND."

General Ulysses S. Grant had hitherto been known in the North as the great general of the West, and the Yankee newspapers had entitled him the hero of Fort Donelson and Vicksburg. He was now to answer the eager expectation of the public by a campaign of unrivalled importance in Virginia. His elevation had been rapid. Four years ago the man who commanded all the armies of the North had been occupied with the obscure experiments of life in the successive callings of farmer, auctioneer, and tanner; and at the beginning of the war, having at first been refused an active military command by Governor Yates of Illinois, he was accidentally selected to lead a regiment of raw recruits.

The grade of lieutenant-general in the armies of the United States had been conferred by brevet only on General Scott, but as an actual rank in time of war had only been bestowed on General Washington. It was revived by the Federal Congress, and the commission conferred on General Grant, the hero of the West, who, despite the gap in his successes at Shiloh in 1862, and his narrow escape on that occasion from being consigned to obscurity by the ungenerous and characteristic changes in the fickle popular idolatry of the North, had had a long run of success, and was in advance of all his contemporaries in the coarse Yankee measure of greatness. The commission bore date March 2, 1864; and on the 9th of that month President Lincoln presented to Grant in person this commission, assuring him of his own cordial personal concurrence in the measure. General Halleck, hitherto general-in-chief, was relieved from duty, and made chief of staff to the army at Washington.

The armies put under the command of Grant presented one of the most imposing arrays in modern history. They dotted the country from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and thence around and along the sea-coast, and back to the Chesapeake. It was said that the Yankee lines might be traced by the smoke of camp-fires through a zig-zag journey of five thousand miles.

A few words may be bestowed here upon the character of the man, the designation of whom as the military idol of the North was not extravagant. General Grant had but little education, and was a man of not much more than ordinary ability; but he had a Scotch pertinacity of character which was a constant and valuable assistance in his military campaigns. As a commander he possessed a rare faculty of combination. He was a man who gathered his forces, who could "afford to wait," who dealt deliberate and heavy strokes; but he lacked that quickness of perception which decides single fields and illustrates military genius. His heart was certainly not a bad one, and his disposition was above most of the little tricks of the Yankee. On particular occasions he did some noble things, as we shall see in other parts of this volume. He was one of the few Yankee notabilities who, without affectation and in sincerity, avoided sensations and displays, had a horror of being "lionized," and lived for history rather than for the gazette. He had an imperturbable good-humor. In his appearance and manners he was very plain; but it was not a plebeian plainness; it was the plainness of a man trained to habits of selfreliance, who never lost the dignity and self-poise which come from a consciousness of one's merits without vanity.

From the moment of receiving his commission as lieutenantgeneral, Grant had transferred his personal presence to the Army of the Potomac, leaving Sherman as his vicegerent to carry out the Western campaign. Warren, Sedgwick, and Hancock were made the corps commanders of this army, and Burnside was given a separate army corps. Butler, at Fortress Monroe, was reinforced by the Tenth Corps from Charleston under Gillmore, and the Eighteenth from the West under "Baldy" Smith. To the infamous hero of New Orleans was allotted the task of cutting off the city of Richmond from its southern lines of communication; while Sigel, operating in the Shenandoah Valley, was to cut the railroad which by way of

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