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from the 20th to the 26th were nearly twelve hundred in killed, wounded and missing.
Sheridan now appeared, after an absence of sixteen days, during which he had reached the James river, as has been seen. His return march was uneventful, and on the 24th of May he reported to Meade at Chesterfield, where the railroad crosses the North Anna. On the 25th he sent Wilson's division across the river on Warren's right to attract Lee's attention while the recrossing took place. The next day, May 26th, Torbert's and Gregg's divisions, supported by Russell's division of the Sixth, were sent down the North Anna to seize the crossings of the Pamunkey. By rapidly and skillfully executed movements they possessed and covered the principal fordings, and made such a demonstration as greatly favored the operations of the army. By the morning of the 27th the entire army was on the north side of the North Anna and in motion toward the new crossings on the Pamunkey, the Sixth leading, followed closely by the Fifth, Ninth and Second, in order, the whole covered by Wilson's cavalry. The main crossing selected was at Hanover ferry, close to Hanover town, which Sheridan and Russell already occupied. But other crossings were used. The distance from Grant's first crossing of the North Anna to Hanover ferry is thirty miles by the route taken. The distance from Lee's position to Hanover town is less than twenty miles. His inner line advantage was therefore a great one. He was aware of Grant's movement on the 27th, according to his own dispatches.
By nightfall of the 27th Grant's army, and its train of four thousand wagons, were within easy reach of the respective crossings of the Pamunkey. By noon of the 28th three corps were across, without an action, so perfectly had the preliminary operations been conducted. A line was formed a mile and a half out from the river, the Sixth holding the right, Hancock the centre, Warren's Fifth the left, and Burnside's Ninth, which
had been consolidated with the Army of the Potomac and placed under Meade on the 24th of May, remaining on the north of the river to be near the trains. Thus the Federal army a third time executed with complete success one of the most difficult operations in war. In sight and within musket range of a powerful enemy it recrossed a difficult river in retreat, marched for forty hours by night and day, through dust and heat, and by unknown and dangerous roads, until it struck another stream, where its foe was unprepared, crossed without dispute, assumed a new position which compelled its adversary to abandon impregnable breastworks and fall back in haste to protect his communications and his capital.
This was strategy of the first order and, mingled as it was with dash and persistency, it is calculated to lift Grant's generalship to a height unreached by any officer of modern times.
The base of supplies, hitherto at Port Royal, was now ordered to White House on the Pamunkcy, whither boats could
White House is twenty-five miles down from Hanover town. In front of the army was a curious country, bottom lands chiefly, much of them covered with low pines, with swamps on either side of the sluggish streams, and especially to the south as the Chickahominy is approached. Just south of Hanover town is the Totopotomoy region, through which that creek winds slowly amid swampy surroundings.
From Hanover two fair roads run to Richmond, twenty miles away. Lee had lost every river barrier, except the Chickahominy. The great question with Grant now was whether he (Lee) would offer battle between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy, or, falling behind the latter, fight only within the defences of Richmond.
A glance at the south side of the James is now in place. We know how rapidly Grant has been pushing thither, how he has been "fighting it out on this line," how he has been filling his part of the contract to keep Lee so busy as to prevent his
sending any reinforcements to the army operating against Butler. How has Butler been prospering? How filling his part of the contract not to let reinforcements get from his front to Lee? How sustaining his boast that Grant need not fear any aid Beauregard could send to his opponent? How severing the railroads south of Richmond and capturing the place?
Before leaving Fortress Monroe Butler's force was thirty thousand strong, composed of two corps, Gillmore's Tenth, and W. F. Smith's Eighteenth ; the former embracing Perry's, Ames' and Turner's divisions, the latter Weitzel's and Brook's divisions and Hink's brigade of colored troops. With a feint to the north side of the James, it was to move to the south side against Richmond, with a possibility of capturing
GEN. B. F. BUTLER. it, for its defences were weakest in that direction, with the determination of cutting the railroads and holding Petersburg, and above all with the object of so engaging Confederate attention in that direction as to prevent Lee from receiving support. By and by Grant was to cut his way through to the James and unite with Butler, thus investing Richmond on its weak and vital side.
All went well till he (Butler) was established at Bermuda Hundred Here he lost his head. Instead of taking and holding Petersburg and controlling the numerous roads centreing there, he heard of Lee's retreat before Grant, and resolved to try for Richmond direct. This brought on the disastrous affair of Drury's Bluff by which Beauregard was enabled to drive him back to, and shut him up in, Bermuda Hundred for the season. This was on May 16th. Thus Richmond was entirely relieved, and Lee's army could be reinforced almost
at will. Add to this the advantage received by Sigel's defeat in the Shenandoah valley, and one can imagine that Lee's heavy losses were being constantly made up to him. Grant therefore had to depend on his own genius and determination to get through with his herculean task. There was, however, a little gleam from the Valley, for Hunter, Sigel's successor, had taken the offensive, and pushed as far as Staunton where he joined Crok and Averill. The three destroyed many railroads and an immense amount of supplies, and their diversion would have been of great permanent value, but for Hunter's long and circuitous march and retreat by way of the Kanawha to the upper end of the Valley again, where he found all in confusion as before his start.
RANT was in line south of the Pamunkey, on May 28th,
and twenty miles from Richmond. He knew that Lee, having the inner lines of march on him, could confront him at any moment.
Was he now to expect battle? Very likely; and if so, a severe one; for Lee could now draw on all his resources, and must act under the spur of desperation, for his capital was almost within sight.
The Federals must lose no time. If battle impended, it were best to give it before the Confederates could consolidate too heavily and entrench too strongly. The natural features of the country; the thick, bushy woods; the marshes of the Totopotomoy and, beyond, those of the Chickahominy, presented obstacles sufficiently formidable for the Federals to overcome, without the addition of long and secret lines of fortifications. So Sheridan was promptly (May 28th) ordered to make a demonstration in the direction of Hawe's Shop, and on toward Mechanicsville, to discover
GEN. CUSTER. Lee's position. From this time on it will be noticed how admirably Grant handled the cavalry branch of his army, and what effective work it did under the intrepid leadership of Sheridan. Near Hawe's the