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siege till he had tried the strength of his enemy thoroughly. To have refused battle at Cold Harbor would have been to open a storm of criticism by the same authors, and in quite as violent a vein, as that which befell his positive and heroic action. He was repulsed, but not defeated. His repulses he turned to practical account. He knew better what to do after than before. The moral, the intellectual results of Cold Harbor, were all for his advantage, that of his army, and the country. We have seen how they concerned Hunter, and the armies in other fields. Grant's eye was not local; his judgments were for the general situation, not for a speck on the map, not for a petty victory. He was commander of all the Federal forces, and in fighting, holding, and playing his game with Lee, was fighting equally for his other generals and their commands. Lee never sent reinforcements to help crush other Federal generals. It was Grant's design that he (Lee) should never receive any from in front of any Federal general. Therefore, his (Grant's) persistency, his hardihood, his constancy. He remitted nothing his judgment sanctioned. That his judgment was best, let the end bear witness. It was best because his attacks on Lee and the constant uncovering of his strength and plans made it so.
OVER THE JAMES TO PETERSBURG,
FTER Cold Harbor, June 3d, 1864, there was respite from
hard fighting, but no relaxation of vigilance by either foe. They were as if locked together in tight embrace. Lee could not be driven, Grant would not be. It was a time for thought and strategy. On June 5th Birney was returned to the Second Corps and extended its left till it reached the Chickahominy, where the pickets on either side, notwithstanding the fact that they had so long and often engaged in bloody strife, frequently exchanged salutations and not infrequently tobacco, drugs and relishes.
On the 7th, Griffin's and Cutler's divisions extended this left from the Chickahominy to Dispatch Station on the Richmond and York River railroad. Thus Grant was gradually moving by side marches in accordance with his original design to throw himself south of the James, and cut the Confederate capital off from all communication with the Confederacy. Would not this open Washington to attack by Lee? Not if Richmond were as dear to the Confederates as Washington was to the Federals. Grant was at the door of Richmond. He could capture, if Lee diverted any of his strength elsewhere, and then he could pursue faster than Lee could advance back through the fastnesses of that region which both armies had just traversed. Washington contained a protecting force, and possibly an impeding force if thrown out to the line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan. “Vicksburg is vulnerable only from the south" had been Grant's firm conclusion after long
deliberation and repeated trial. “There," said he before the Wilderness, “there,” placing his finger on the map where Petersburg is located, “is the vital point of the Confederacy. Richmond will fall when we are there." Petersburg was a congeries of railroads. The life of the Confederacy, its commerce, its resource, flowed out and in through this centre.
On the 6th Lee felt the Federal right with Early's corps. He moved on the north side of the Matadequin, but got entangled in the swamps. On the 7th he repeated the movement south of the Matadequin, but failed, for the same reason. These were his only attempts to disturb Grant. A proposition now came from Halleck to invest Richmond on the north, in order to keep Washington secure. Grant's statement of the situation runs thus: “I was (after June 3d) still in a position to move by his (Lee's) left flank and invest Richmond from the North side, or continue my move by his right flank to the south side of the James. While the former might have been better as a covering for Washington, yet a full survey of all the ground satisfied me that it would be impracticable to hold a line north and east of Richmond that would protect the Fredericksburg railroad —a long vulnerable line that would exhaust much of our strength to guard, and that would have to be protected to supply the army, and would leave open to the enemy all his lines of communication on the south side of the James. My idea from the start had been to beat Lee's army north of Richmond if possible. Then after destroying his lines of communication north of the James, to transfer the army to the south side and besiege Lee in Richmond, or follow him south if he should retreat. After the battle of the Wilderness, it was evident that the enemy deemed it of the first importance to run no risks with the army he then had. He acted purely on the defensive behind breastworks, or feebly on the offensive immediately in front of them; and when, in case of repulse, he could easily retire to them. Without a greater sacrifice of life
than I was willing to make, all could not be accomplished that I had designed north of Richmond. I therefore determined to continue to hold substantially the ground we then occupied, taking advantage of any favorable circumstances that might present themselves, until cavalry could be sent to Charlotteville and Gordonville to effectually break up the railroad connection between Richmond, the Shenandoah Valley and Lynchburg; and when the cavalry got well off, to move the army to the south side of the James by the enemy's right flank, when I felt I could cut off his source of supplies except by canal.”
And these delicate cavalry operations were now under way. On June 5th Sheridan had orders to move to Charlottevillehe started on the 7th-to destroy the bridge there, and returning to Hanover Junction, to destroy the line of the Central railroad. Hunter was to meet him there. But Hunter, who had met Jones' Cavalry at Piedmont and defeated him, formed a junction with Crook and Averill (June 8th) at Staunton and the three were moving in the direction of Lexington and Lynchburg. Lee ordered Hampton to pursue Sheridan, sent Breckenridge into the now open Valley, and on the 12th dis
patched Early, to follow, the two to join at Harper's Ferry and make a demonstration on Washington. This was designed to recall the Federal movement against Lynchburg.
From the oth to the 11th the Federals were busy building entrenchments back of their position near Cold Harbor, to be held while the
army was withdrawing from Lee's GEN. BRECKINRIDGE.
front. Butler was ordered to send a
strong cavalry force under Gillmore and Kautz to break up the railroads around Petersburg and capture the place if possible. He made a determined attack,