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The Great Republic by the Master Historians
Last Echoes of the Conflict
by Bancroft, Hubert H.

[Passing references are elsewhere made to the succession of striking incidents that wound up the four-year struggle between South and North. Before proceeding to the era of peace it is fitting to gather together some of the more important events, and the views of one of the principal agents in accomplishing that happy consummation. General Grant's Memoirs are the cherished possession of every patriotic student of history. Familiar as his last utterances are, they cannot grow stale by quotation when the subject to be illustrated is the grand drama in which he was the chief actor. His official report to the secretary of war is a lasting monument to his simplicity of character as a man and to the directness of his methods as a soldier.]

When the army had disbanded, with the exception of the fifty thousand retained under arms, great numbers of the veterans went West, and took up claims in Kansas and Nebraska, under the liberal land laws then enacted in their favor. Meanwhile a great tragedy had taken place. There was a large section of the Democrats of the North who were dissatisfied with the conduct of the war. These chose General McClellan as their candidate against Lincoln, who was re-elected in 1864. Fremont had been nominated by dissatisfied Republicans, but he withdrew before the election. Lincoln had an overwhelming majority in the Electoral College, but the popular vote was as follows: Lincoln, 2,216,067; McClellan, 1,808,725. Electoral vote: Lincoln, 212; McClellan, 21.

This showed a closer division than might have been expected. McClellan received almost the same number of votes that Lincoln got in 1860, while Lincoln gained less than 400,000. The slavery question was still in politics. The Emancipation Proclamation had not been received well in some portions of the North, where the question of slavery was of less importance than that of preserving the Union, and it was feared it would prevent a restoration on any terms. It appeared to Mr. Lincoln that re-election by Republican votes alone was impossible, so he determined to secure the nomination of a War Democrat for Vice-President. He first offered the nomination to General Butler, who declined it, and then to Andrew Johnson, who accepted it. Johnson was a man of little education, but of great will power. He had been Governor of Tennessee, Senator, and then Military Governor, rising from the tailor's bench in a little mountain town.

Great was the joy in the North over the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee. Just four years had the fighting lasted, and peace was welcomed with the wildest enthusiasm, only to be dampened by the murder of the President. On the night of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, in Ford's Theatre, Washington, John Wilkes Booth, the actor, entered the box where the President was seated, shot him, and jumped to the stage, shouting "Sic semper tyrannis!" He broke the bones of his ankle in the jump from the box, but managed to escape and, by aid of confederates, crossed the Potomac and got into Virginia, but in a few days was discovered. Refusing to surrender, he was shot. On the same night that Lincoln was shot, Secretary Seward was stabbed seriously, and Grant escaped only by absence from the city. Lincoln survived until Saturday morning, April 15, 1865, but died without recovering consciousness.

Terrible was the wrath of the North over the event, and the best men in the South regretted it equally, for all had come to respect Lincoln, and they realized that his murder would be laid upon the South, which would suffer accordingly -- a presentiment that was correct. It developed that there was a small conspiracy involved, but that it included no one outside of Washington and was not inspired by any Southern leaders. Just how much each of the parties to the conspiracy knew is uncertain. The meetings were at the home of Mrs. Surratt. The others who were found to be most closely involved were men named Harold, Payne, and Atzerott, who, with Mrs. Surratt, were executed. Others who in any way aided Booth to escape were punished severely.

And now a few statistics about the war. There were issued ten calls for troops, for a total of 2,763,670 men. At first the South was called upon, but not thereafter. These calls were distributed among the States according to population; and 2,772,408 responded, while 86,724 paid commutation money. But, as some of these men enlisted twice or more, it is estimated that the actual number of men who enlisted on a three years' basis numbered 2,320,272, of whom 186,097 were colored. The regular army, in the war, consisted of about 67,000 men. Some of the volunteers served but a short time, in cases of emergency. The average number of Federal troops present in the field during 1862-3-4 and '65 was 600,000; the largest number being 800,000 in May, 1865. The average number absent from the army for various causes was about 250,000; so that the total army rose steadily from 575,917 on January 1, 1862, to 1,000,516 on May 1, 1865. Altogether there were 1,981 regiments in the three armies, 498 separate companies, and 232 separate batteries, or about 2,072 regiments, if all had been properly organized and consolidated.

The losses of the army have never been accurately determined. There were many persons who deserted and have never been accounted for; many who were killed or died in prison, of whom no record was kept; but three different estimates by various bureaus do not greatly differ. Phisterer's estimate, though now believed to be somewhat too low, is as follows: Killed in battle, 44,238; died of wounds, 49,205; died of disease, 186,216; unknown, suicides, etc., 24,710; total, 304,369.

The latest estimates give the loss as high as 360,000.

There were 2,261 engagements of all kinds, and in 148 of these the Federal loss was 500 or more.

The following table gives the losses in the principal battles of the Civil War. The figures are the total for killed, wounded, and missing, as given in Phisterer's Official Record:

Battle.	Union. Confederate.
Bull Run	2,952	1,752
Shiloh	13,573	10,699
Seven Pines and Fair Oaks	5,739	7,997
Seven Days Battles	15,249	17,583
Second Bull Run	7,800	3,700
Antietam	12,469	25,899
Perryville	4,348	7,000
Fredericksburg	12,353	4,576
Murfreesboro	11,578	25,560
Chancellorsville	16,030	12,281
Gettysburg Campaign	23,186	31,621
Chickamauga	15,851	17,804
Chattanooga	5,616	8,684
Wilderness	37,737	11,400
Spottsylvania, etc.	26,461	9,000
Atlanta	3,641	8,499
Franklin	2,326	6,252
Nashville	2,140	15,000
Surrendered at the close, about	100,000

The statistics for the Confederate army are not so easy to give, because many of the records have been destroyed, and because not all of the calls for troops were met. At first States' rights were recognized by calling for State troops, but this soon became unsatisfactory, and the Confederate army was organized. Under the various calls for troops and the many acts of legislation by the Confederate Congress every able-bodied man in the Confederacy was, sooner or later, called into the service, and finally boys and old men were pressed into service for garrison duty. It is believed that 750,000 men, in all, were regularly enlisted, armed, and equipped; but probably not 500,000 were ever in the service at one time, while the real number of effectives must have been considerably less. Yet the disparity in effectiveness between these two armies was not so great as the figures suggest. The Confederates were always, with a few exceptions, in their own territory and generally behind works. The Confederates never won a victory outside their own borders, not even in the border States of Kentucky or Maryland, nor did they have any important successes in Tennessee. The Federal army was obliged to keep up a long line of communication from its base of supplies, and this constantly depleted the firing line. The great Confederate victory in the West was at Chickamauga. In the East the victories were in defending their capital. Both sides fought with great valor, and the end did not come until the fighting power of the South had gone. It is believed that the Confederate army lost over 200,000 men killed, died of wounds or disease. There is one excellent authority who claims, on the basis of the few returns available, that the loss was at least 300,000, and perhaps more, making a total sacrifice of nearly 700,000 men.

Financially, both sections were in great trouble much of the time. War is terribly expensive. The North had more resources than the South, but at first it had little credit and no cash. The Morrill tariff bill, passed in 1861, provided for a war revenue, but it was only a drop in the bucket. The Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to borrow, but lenders were few. The whole nation was for a time in a dazed condition. Secession, so long threatened, had come, and many loyal persons believed that it was not possible to maintain the Union by war and preferred a peaceable separation. Others feared that a war would be useless, as Europe would interfere on behalf of the South, because almost all the cotton in the world came from within her borders, and to shut off this commodity would cause so much distress that international law would be strained to force an outlet for this great staple. Could the Confederacy have had a steady outlet for cotton it could have kept up the struggle much longer.

It was with this purpose in view that Mr. Davis sent Mason and Slidell to Great Britain and France; but the failure was as complete as was an appeal to the Pope at Rome, who made the abolishment of slavery a sine qua non of recognition. This of course was impossible. The Confederacy first resorted to loans guaranteed by cotton, and for a time their loans sold well; but when cotton was no longer allowed to leave the country except as captured by the Federals, there was difficulty in making loans on any good basis. The Confederate expenses were enormous, because of the great risk in getting in supplies from abroad. There were few good mechanics in the South, and few foundries; the Tredegar Iron Works, at Richmond, was the only first-class establishment of its kind in the Confederacy. When loans from the States and bond sales failed to raise money, resort was had to paper currency, which was issued in large amounts. Just how much was current will never be known. The workmanship on the notes was poor, and counterfeits in the North were easily made, so that the South was swamped with paper money. It declined steadily with the fortunes of the Confederate arms, and after the war it became, along with the bonds, entirely worthless. Many of these bonds were held abroad. In fairness it can be said that the finances of the Confederacy were never well handled, even considering all the difficulties involved.

The Federal Government was more fortunate. After a short period of gloom and despair the Northern people resolved to stick together. A meeting of the leading bankers was held and money was furnished for a time almost as called for. The Treasury also issued interest-bearing notes for small denominations, but even these were not sufficient for the strain. When it was found that there was to be a long and bloody war, entirely original measures were taken. The National Banking system, substantially as it now is, was established. This had the two- fold effect of marketing bonds and providing currency for the needs of the people. Income and internal revenue taxes were laid on many articles. Specie payments were suspended, but no great disaster came. Finally, non-interest- bearing Treasury notes to the amount of nearly $450,000,000 were issued to pay war expenses. They were never on a par with gold, falling to about 40 per cent at one time, but fluctuating according to the success of the Federal arms. After the war they rose in value rapidly, but did not reach par until 1878. During the most trying part of the war Mr. Chase was at the head of the Treasury, but, on the death of Chief Justice Taney, succeeded him and Hugh McCullough became Secretary. During the war most of the bonds were sold through the agency of Jay Cooke, of Philadelphia -- the fourth man from that city to finance our Government in a war. By August, 1865, the National debt, which was only about $80,000,000 in 1860, had reached $2,845,000,000. About $800,000,000 was raised during the war by customs duties, internal revenue, and direct taxes.

General Grant's account of how he heard the news of Lincoln's assassination is characteristically succinct:

"After I left General Lee at Appomattox Station, I went with my staff and a few others directly to Burkesville Station on my way to Washington. The road from Burkesville back having been newly repaired and the ground being soft, the train got off the track frequently, and, as a result, it was after midnight of the second day when I reached City Point. As soon as possible I took a despatchboat thence to Washington City.

"While in Washington I was very busy for a time in preparing the necessary orders for the new state of affairs; communicating with my different commanders of separate departments, bodies of troops, etc. But by the 14th I was pretty well through with this work, so as to be able to visit my children, who were then in Burlington, New Jersey, attending school. Mrs. Grant was with me in Washington at the time, and we were invited by President and Mrs. Lincoln to accompany them to the theatre on the evening of that day. I replied to the President's verbal invitation to the effect, that if we were in the city we would take great pleasure in accompanying them; but that I was very anxious to get away and visit my children, and if I could get through my work during the day I should do so. I did get through and started by the evening train on the 14th, sending Mr. Lincoln word, of course, that I would not be at the theatre.

"At that time the railroad to New York entered Philadelphia on Broad Street; passengers were conveyed in ambulances to the Delaware River, and then ferried to Camden, at which point they took the cars again. When I reached the ferry, on the east side of the City of Philadelphia, I found people awaiting my arrival there; and also despatches informing me of the assassination of the President and Mr. Seward, and of the probable assassination of the Vice-President, Mr. Johnson, and requesting my immediate return.

"It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling that overcame me at the news of these assassinations, more especially the assassination of the President. I knew his goodness of heart, his generosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon the full privileges of citizenship with equality among all. I knew also the feeling that Mr. Johnson had expressed in speeches and conversation against the Southern people, and I feared that his course towards them would be such as to repel, and make them unwilling citizens; and if they became such they would remain so for a long while. I felt that reconstruction had been set back, no telling how far.

"I immediately arranged for getting a train to take me back to Washington City; but Mrs. Grant was with me; it was after midnight and Burlington was but an hour away. Finding that I could accompany her to our house and return about as soon as they would be ready to take me from the Philadelphia station, I went up with her and returned immediately by the same special train. The joy that I had witnessed among the people in the street and in public places in Washington when I left there, had been turned to grief; the city was in reality a city of mourning. I have stated what I believed then the effect of this would be, and my judgement now is that I was right. I believe the people of the South would have been spared very much of the hard feeling that was engendered by Mr. Johnson's course towards them during the first few months of his administration. Be this as it may, Mr. Lincoln's assassination was particularly unfortunate for the entire nation."

Here is an expert's judgment on the American soldier: "The troops were hardy, being inured to fatigue, and they appeared in their respective camps as ready and fit for duty as they had ever been in their lives. I doubt whether an equal body of men of any nation, take them man for man, officer for officer, was ever gotten together that would have proved their equal in a great battle.

"The armies of Europe are machines; the men are brave and the officers capable; but the majority of the soldiers in most of the countries of Europe are taken from a class of people who are not very intelligent and who have very little interest in the contest in which they are called upon to take part. Our armies were composed of men who were able to read, men who knew what they were fighting for, and could not be induced to serve as soldiers, except in an emergency when the safety of the nation was involved, and so necessarily must have been more than equal to men who fought merely because they were brave and because they were thoroughly drilled and inured to hardships."

The great reception given to the troops is thus described:

"On the 18th of May orders were issued by the adjutant-general for a grand review by the President and his cabinet of Sherman's and Meade's armies. The review commenced on the 23d and lasted two days. Meade's army occupied over six hours of the first day in passing the grand stand which had been erected in front of the President's house. Sherman witnessed this review from the grand stand which was occupied by the President and his cabinet. Here he showed his resentment for the cruel and harsh treatment that had unnecessarily been inflicted upon him by the Secretary of War, by refusing to take his extended hand.

"Sherman's troops had been in camp on the south side of the Potomac. During the night of the 23d he crossed over and bivouacked not far from the Capitol. Promptly at ten o'clock on the morning of the 24th, his troops commenced to pass in review. Sherman's army made a different appearance from that of the Army of the Potomac. The latter had been operating where they received directly from the North full supplies of food and clothing regularly; the review of this army therefore was the review of a body of 65,000 well-drilled, well-disciplined and orderly soldiers inured to hardship and fit for any duty, but without the experience of gathering their own food and supplies in an enemy's country, and of being ever on the watch. Sherman's army was not so well-dressed as the Army of the Potomac, but their marching could not be excelled; they gave the appearance of men who had been thoroughly drilled to endure hardships, either by long and continuous marches or through exposure to any climate, without the ordinary shelter of a camp. They exhibited also some of the order of march through Georgia where the `sweet potatoes sprung up from the ground' as Sherman's army went marching through. In the rear of a company there would be a captured horse or mule loaded with small cooking utensils, captured chickens and other food picked up for the use of the men. Negro families who had followed the army would sometimes come along in the rear of a company, with three or four children packed upon a single mule, and the mother leading it.

"The sight was varied and grand: nearly all day for two successive days, from the Capitol to the Treasury Building, could be seen a mass of orderly soldiers marching in columns of companies. The National flag was flying from almost every house and store; the windows were filled with spectators; the door-steps and side-walks were crowded with colored people and poor whites who did not succeed in securing better quarters from which to get a view of the grand armies. The city was about as full of strangers who had come to see the sights as it usually is on Inauguration day."

Read at this distance of time from the year when Grant penned his literary legacy to his country, these reflections show the qualities of statesmanship in no ordinary degree.

"It is probably well that we had the war when we did. We are better off now than we would have been without it, and have made more rapid progress than we otherwise should have made. The civilized nations of Europe have been stimulated into unusual activity, so that commerce, trade, travel, and thorough acquaintance among people of different nationalities, have become common; whereas, before, it was but the few who had ever had the privilege of going beyond the limits of their own country or who knew anything about other people. Then, too, our republican institutions were regarded as experiments up to the breaking out of the rebellion, and monarchical Europe generally believed that our republic was a rope of sand that would part the moment the slightest strain was brought upon it. Now it has shown itself capable of dealing with one of the greatest wars that was ever made, and our people have proven themselves to be the most formidable in war of any nationality.

"But this war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future.

"To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war. There can scarcely be a possible chance of a conflict, such as the last one, occurring among our own people again; but, growing as we are, in population, wealth and military power, we may become the envy of nations which led us in all these particulars only a few years ago; and unless we are prepared for it we may be in danger of a combined movement being some day made to crush us out. Now, scarcely twenty years after the war, we seem to have forgotten the lessons it taught, and are going on as if in the greatest security, without the power to resist an invasion by the fleets of fourth-rate European powers for a time until we could prepare for them.

"We should have a good navy, and our sea-coast defences should be put in the finest possible condition. Neither of these costs much when it is considered where the money goes, and what we get in return. Money expended in a fine navy not only adds to our security and tends to prevent war in the future, but is very material aid to our commerce with foreign nations in the mean time. Money spent upon sea-coast defences is spent among our own people. The work accomplished, too, like that of the navy, gives us a feeling of security."

[For long years to come there will be friendly controversies over the various acts of the war-drama. Volumes have been filled with narratives of fact viewed from different standpoints, which discussions may in a considerable degree be modified by reference to the accepted official statement of the plan and working out of the campaign by General Grant. This is contained in his Report of the United States Armies, 1864-1865, from which these selections are taken. It is dated, Headquarters, Armies of the United States, Washington, D. C., July 22, 1865.]

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Armies of the United States from the date of my appointment to command the same.

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 communications 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 lines of communication for transporting troops from East to West, reinforcing 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 the 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.

These views have been kept constantly in mind, and orders given and campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country.

[After detailing the instructions given to his officers, and sketching the disposition of General Lee's forces, Grant proceeds with his narrative.]

The movement of the Army of the Potomac commenced early on the morning of the 4th of May, under the immediate direction and orders of Major-General Meade, pursuant to instructions. Before night, the whole army was across the Rapidan (the fifth and sixth corps crossing at Germania Ford, and the second corps at Ely's Ford, the cavalry, under Major-General Sheridan, moving in advance), with the greater part of its trains, numbering about four thousand wagons, meeting with but slight opposition. The average distance travelled by these troops per day was about twelve miles. This I regarded as a great success, and it removed from my mind the most serious apprehensions I had entertained, that of crossing the river in the face of an active, large, well-appointed, and ably commanded army, and how so large a train was to be carried through a hostile country, and protected. Early on the 5th, the advance corps (the fifth, Major-General G. K. Warren commanding) met and engaged the enemy outside his intrenchments near Mine Run. The battle raged furiously all day, the whole army being brought into the fight as fast as the corps could be got upon the field, which, considering the density of the forest, and narrowness of the roads, was done with commendable promptness.

General Burnside, with the ninth corps, was, at the time the Army of the Potomac moved, left with the bulk of his corps at the crossing of the Rappahannock River and Alexandria Railroad, holding the road back to Bull Run, with instructions not to move until he received notice that a crossing of the Rapidan was secured, but to move promptly as soon as such notice was received. This crossing he was apprised of on the afternoon of the 4th. By six o'clock of the morning of the 6th he was leading his corps into action near the Wilderness Tavern, some of his troops having marched a distance of over thirty miles, crossing both the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. Considering that a large proportion, probably two-thirds of his command, was composed of new troops, unaccustomed to marches, and carrying the accoutrements of a soldier, this was a remarkable march.

The battle of the Wilderness was renewed by us at five o'clock on the morning of the 6th, and continued with unabated fury until darkness set in, each army holding substantially the same position that it had on the evening of the 5th. After dark, the enemy made a feeble attempt to turn our right flank, capturing several hundred prisoners and creating considerable confusion. But the promptness of General Sedgwick, who was personally present and commanded that part of our line, soon re-formed it and restored order. On the morning of the 7th, reconnoissances showed that the enemy had fallen behind his intrenched lines, with pickets to the front, covering a part of the battle-field. From this it was evident to my mind that the two day's fighting had satisfied him of his inability to further maintain the contest in the open field, notwithstanding his advantage of position, and that he would wait an attack behind his works. I therefore determined to push on and put my whole force between him and Richmond; and orders were at once issued for a movement by his `right flank. On the night of the 7th, the march was commenced towards Spottsylvania Court House, the fifth corps moving on the most direct road. But the enemy having `become apprised of our movement, and having the shorter line, was enabled to reach there first. On the 8th, General Warren met a force of the enemy, which had been sent out to oppose and delay his advance, to gain time to fortify the line taken up at Spottsylvania. This force was steadily driven back on the main force, within the recently constructed works, after considerable fighting, resulting in severe loss to both sides. On the morning of the 9th, General Sheridan started on a raid against the enemy's lines of communication with Richmond. The 9th, 10th and 11th were spent in manoeuvring and fighting, without decisive results. Among the killed on the 9th was that able and distinguished soldier Major-General John Sedgwick, commanding the sixth army corps. Major-General H.G. Wright succeeded him in command. Early on the morning of the 12th a general attack was made on the enemy in position. The second corps, Major-General Hancock commanding, carried a salient of his line, capturing most of Johnson's division of Ewell's corps and twenty pieces of artillery. But the resistance was so obstinate that the advantage gained did not prove decisive. The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th were consumed in manoeuvring and awaiting the arrival of reinforcements from Washington. Deeming it impracticable to make any further attack upon the enemy at Spottsylvania Court House, orders were issued on the 18th with a view to a movement to the North Anna, to commence at twelve o'clock on the night of the 19th. Late in the afternoon of the 19th, Ewell's corps came out of its works on our extreme right flank; but the attack was promptly repulsed, with heavy loss. This delayed the movement to the North Anna until the night of the 21st, when it was commenced. But the enemy again, having the shorter line, and being in possession of the main roads, was enabled to reach the North Anna in advance of us, and took position behind it. The fifth corps reached the North Anna on the afternoon of the 23d, closely followed by the sixth corps. The second and ninth corps got up about the same time, the second holding the railroad bridge, and the ninth lying between that and Jericho Ford. General Warren effected a crossing the same afternoon, and got a position without much opposition. Soon after getting into position he was violently attacked, but repulsed the enemy with great slaughter. On the 25th, General Sheridan rejoined the Army of the Potomac from the raid on which he started from Spottsylvania, having destroyed the depots at Beaver Dam and Ashland stations, four trains of cars, large supplies of rations, and many miles of railroad-track; recaptured about four hundred of our men on their way to Richmond as prisoners of war; met and defeated the enemy's cavalry at Yellow Tavern; carried the first line of works around Richmond (but finding the second line too strong to be carried by assault), recrossed to the north bank of the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge under heavy fire, and moved by a detour to Haxall's Landing, on the James River, where he communicated with General Butler. This raid had the effect of drawing off the whole of the enemy's cavalry force, making it comparatively easy to guard our trains.

[General Grant makes the following reference to the military qualities of Major- General Sheridan.]

Two divisions of cavalry, commanded by Generals Torbert and Wilson, were sent to Sheridan from the Army of the Potomac. The first reached him at Harper's Ferry about the 11th of August.

His operations during the month of August and the fore part of September were both of an offensive and defensive character, resulting in many severe skirmishes, principally by the cavalry, in which we were generally successful, but no general engagement took place. The two armies lay in such a position--the enemy on the west bank of the Opequan Creek covering Winchester, and our forces in front of Berryville--that either could bring on a battle at any time. Defeat to us would lay open to the enemy the States of Maryland and Pennsylvania for long distances before another army could be interposed to check him. Under these circumstances I hesitated about allowing the initiative to be taken. Finally, the use of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which were both obstructed by the enemy, became so indispensably necessary to us, and the importance of relieving Pennsylvania and Maryland from continuously threatened invasion so great, that I determined the risk should be taken. But fearing to telegraph the order for an attack without knowing more than I did of General Sheridan's feelings as to what would be the probable result, I left City Point on the 15th of September to visit him at his headquarters, to decide, after conference with him, what should be done. I met him at Charlestown, and he pointed out so distinctly how each army lay; what he could do the moment he was authorized, and expressed such confidence of success, that I saw there were but two words of instruction necessary--Go in! For the conveniences of forage, the teams for supplying the army were kept at Harper's Ferry. I asked him if he could get out his teams and supplies in time to make an attack on the ensuing Tuesday morning. His reply was, that he could before daylight on Monday. He was off promptly to time, and I may here add, that the result was such that I have never since deemed it necessary to visit General Sheridan before giving him orders.

[In the following passage are interesting criticisms of Generals Hood and Thomas.]

Hood, instead of following Sherman, continued his move northward, which seemed to me to be leading to his certain doom. At all events, had I had the power to command both armies, I should not have changed the orders under which he seemed to be acting. On the 26th of October, the advance of Hood's army attacked the garrison at Decatur, Alabama, but failing to carry the place, withdrew towards Courtland, and succeeded, in the face of our cavalry, in effecting a lodgment on the north side of the Tennessee River, near Florence. On the 28th, Forrest reached the Tennessee, at Fort Heiman, and captured a gunboat and three transports. On the 2d of November he planted batteries above and below Johnsonville, on the opposite side of the river, isolating three gunboats and eight transports. On the 4th the enemy opened his batteries upon the place, and was replied to from the gunboats and the garrison. The gunboats becoming disabled were set on fire, as also were the transports, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. About a million and a half dollars' worth of stores and property on the levee and in storehouses was consumed by fire. On the 5th the enemy disappeared and crossed to the north side of the Tennessee River, above Johnsonville, moving towards Clifton, and subsequently joined Hood. On the night of the 5th, General Schofield, with the advance of the 23d corps, reached Johnsonville, but finding the enemy gone, was ordered to Pulaski, and put in command of all the troops there, with instructions to watch the movements of Hood and retard his advance, but not to risk a general engagement until the arrival of General A. J. Smith's command from Missouri, and until General Wilson could get his cavalry remounted.

On the 19th, General Hood continued his advance. General Thomas, retarding him as much as possible, fell back towards Nashville for the purpose of concentrating his command and gaining time for the arrival of reinforcements. The enemy coming up with our main force, commanded by General Schofield, at Franklin, on the 30th, assaulted our works repeatedly during the afternoon and till late at night, but was in every instance repulsed. His loss in this battle was one thousand seven hundred and fifty killed, seven hundred and two prisoners, and three thousand eight hundred wounded. Among his losses were six general officers killed, six wounded, and one captured. Our entire loss was two thousand three hundred. This was the first serious opposition the enemy met with, and I am satisfied was the fatal blow to all his expectations. During the night, General Schofield fell back towards Nashville. This left the field to the enemy--not lost by battle, but voluntarily abandoned--so that General Thomas' whole force might be brought together. The enemy followed up and commenced the establishment of his line in front of Nashville on the 2d of December.

As soon as it was ascertained that Hood was crossing the Tennessee River, and that Price was going out of Missouri, General Rosecrans was ordered to send to General Thomas the troops of General A. J. Smith's command, and such other troops as he could spare. The advance of this reinforcement reached Nashville on the 30th of November.

On the morning of the 15th of December General Thomas attacked Hood in position, and, in a battle lasting two days, defeated and drove him from the field in the utmost confusion, leaving in our hands most of his artillery and many thousand prisoners, including four general officers.

Before the battle of Nashville I grew very impatient over, as it appeared to me, the unnecessary delay. This impatience was increased upon learning that the enemy had sent a force of cavalry across the Cumberland into Kentucky. I feared Hood would cross his whole army and give us great trouble there. After urging upon General Thomas the necessity of immediately assuming the offensive, I started West to superintend matters there in person. Reaching Washington City, I received General Thomas' despatch announcing his attack upon the enemy, and the result as far as the battle had progressed. I was delighted. All fears and apprehensions were dispelled. I am not yet satisfied but that General Thomas, immediately upon the appearance of Hood before Nashville, and before he had time to fortify, should have moved out with his whole force and given him battle, instead of waiting to remount his cavalry, which delayed him until the inclemency of the weather made it impracticable to attack earlier than he did. But his final defeat of Hood was so complete, that it will be accepted as a vindication of that distinguished officer's judgment.

After Hood's defeat at Nashville he retreated, closely pursued by cavalry and infantry, to the Tennessee River, being forced to abandon many pieces of artillery and most of his transportation. On the 28th of December our advanced forces ascertained that he had made good his escape to the south side of the river.

About this time, the rains having set in heavily in Tennessee and North Alabama, making it difficult to move army transportation and artillery, General Thomas stopped the pursuit by his main force at the Tennessee River. A small force of cavalry, under Colonel W. J. Palmer, 15th Pennsylvania Volunteers, continued to follow Hood for some distance, capturing considerable transportation and the enemy's pontoon-bridge.

[The battle of Five Forks is here described.]

From the night of the 29th to the morning of the 31st the rain fell in such torrents as to make it impossible to move a wheeled vehicle, except as corduroy roads were laid from Dinwiddie Court House towards Five Forks, where he found the enemy in full force. General Warren advanced and extended his line across the Boydton Plank Road to near the White Oak Road, with a view of getting across the latter; but, finding the enemy strong in his front and extending beyond his left, was directed to hold on where he was, and fortify. General Humphreys drove the enemy from his front into his main line on the Hatcher, near Burgess' Mills. Generals Ord, Wright and Parke made examinations in their fronts to determine the feasibility of an assault on the enemy's lines. The two latter reported favorably. The enemy confronting us as he did, at every point from Richmond to our extreme left, I conceived his lines must be weakly held, and could be penetrated if my estimate of his forces was correct. I determined, therefore, to extend our line no farther, but to reinforce General Sheridan with a corps of infantry, and thus enable him to cut loose and turn the enemy's right flank, and with the other corps assault the enemy's lines. The result of the offensive effort of the enemy the week before, when he assaulted Fort Stedman, particularly favored this. The enemy's intrenched picket-line captured by us at that time threw the lines occupied by the belligerents so close together at some points that it was but a moment's run from one to the other. Preparations were at once made to relieve General Humphreys' corps, to report to General Sheridan; but the condition of the roads prevented immediate movement. On the morning of the 31st, General Warren reported favorably to getting possession of the White Oak Road, and was directed to do so. To accomplish this, he moved with one division, instead of his whole corps, which was attacked by the enemy in superior force and driven back on the 2d division before it had time to form, and it, in turn, forced back upon the 3d division, when the enemy was checked. A division of the 2d corps was immediately sent to his support, the enemy driven back with heavy loss, and possession of the White Oak Road gained. Sheridan advanced, and with a portion of his cavalry got possession of the Five Forks; but the enemy, after the affair with the 5th corps, reinforced the rebel cavalry, defending that point with infantry, and forced him back towards Dinwiddie Court House. Here General Sheridan displayed great generalship. Instead of retreating with his whole command on the main army, to tell the story of superior forces encountered, he deployed his cavalry on foot, leaving only mounted men enough to take charge of the horses. This compelled the enemy to deploy over a vast extent of wooded and broken country, and made his progress slow. At this juncture he despatched to me what had taken place, and that he was dropping back slowly on Dinwiddie Court House. General Mackenzie's cavalry and one division of the 5th corps were immediately ordered to his assistance. Soon after receiving a report from General Meade that Humphreys could hold our position on the Boydton Road, and that the other two divisions of the 5th corps could go to Sheridan, they were so ordered at once. Thus the operations of the day necessitated the sending of Warren, because of his accessibility, instead of Humphreys, as was intended, and precipitated intended movements. On the morning of the Ist of April, General Sheridan, reinforced by General Warren, drove the enemy back on Five Forks, where, late in the evening, he assaulted and carried his strongly fortified position, capturing all his artillery and between five and six thousand prisoners.

[In concluding his memorable report, which ranks as a state document of the first historic importance, General Grant pays a generous and merited tribute to the soldierly qualities of both armies.]

There have been severe combats, raids, expeditions, and movements to defeat the designs and purposes of the enemy, most of them reflecting great credit on our arms, and which contributed greatly to our final triumph, that I have not mentioned. Many of these will be found clearly set forth in the reports herewith submitted; some in the telegrams and brief despatches announcing them, and others, I regret to say, have not as yet been officially reported.

It has been my fortune to see the armies of both the West and the East fight battles, and from what I have seen I know there is no difference in their fighting qualities. All that it was possible for men to do in battle they have done. The Western armies commenced their battles in the Mississippi Valley, and received the final surrender of the remnant of the principal army opposed to them in North Carolina. The armies of the East commenced their battles on the river from which the Army of the Potomac derived its name, and received the final surrender of their old antagonists at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The splendid achievements of each have nationalized our victories, removed all sectional jealousies (of which we have unfortunately experienced too much), and the cause of crimination and recrimination that might have followed had either section failed in its duty. All have a proud record, and all sections can well congratulate themselves and each other for having done their full share in restoring the supremacy of law over every foot of territory belonging to the United States. Let them hope for perpetual peace and harmony with that enemy, whose manhood, however mistaken the cause, drew forth such herculean deeds of valor.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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