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but was repulsed with severe loss. Burnside attacked a strong position in the railroad cut, and drove the enemy out with heavy losses. Warren's assault was gallantly made, and many of his men reached the enemy's works. All the other troops that participated fought with a desperation which was unchecked by danger and repulse.
At the close of this day, General Grant expressed himself as perfectly satisfied that all had been done that could be done toward capturing the place by direct assault. His troops had been constantly on the alert for days before crossing the Chickahominy and James, they had marched over long distances by day and night, and now for three days had been engaged in terrific clash with a strongly entrenched enemy. There had been a large mortality among officers, who literally led their men into action. The commands were reduced and in need of recruitment or reorganization. Rest was imperative for all. Therefore orders came to fortify and cover the lines as they existed. These became the historic lines around Petersburg. They remained substantially the same throughout the subsequent months of the war. Their elaboration for purposes of siege resulted in that stupendous system of works and wonderful plan of environment which came to rank as a monument to modern engineering skill and to the industry, patience and sacrificial spirit of an American soldiery.
The vantage ground which Grant had hoped to secure by brilliant maneuvre, judicious combination and rapid marching was not in his grasp. But he was around and upon it. It was not his nature to brood over failure. Exigency quick.. ened his energies and stirred his inexhaustible fountains of
He lost not a moment in parleying with fate, but sought means to achieve the end he had started to reach by new application of the powers at his command. There were yet victories to win, triumphs of an order differing in some respects from those he had formerly shaped, yet involving the
same bravery of action, heroic endurance, certainty of combination, originality of design.
His attempts on Petersburg led to the assurance that Lee's army was now with Beauregard, and that they would hold the place as the key to Richmond. Thus there was coincidence of views between the two commanders and their armies as to its strategic worth. This information was momentous. It centred effort on a single point or line. It simplified situations. It retained Lee on a new front, which relieved the country of a pervading fear that as soon as Grant uncovered Washington, Lee would march directly upon it. It is hardly possible to overrate that military prescience which grasped this delicate problem from the beginning. To say that Grant could not foreknow what Lee's tactics would be is not to discredit him. He did not know, did not need to know; what he did know was that Lee should not be master of his own independent tactics for a single hour after the two armies were brought together south of the Rapidan. And it was so. And never was the sublime assurance of his ability to control Lee's operations against Washington more fully illustrated than in an anecdote then current. Grant was remonstrated with by a prominent officer for putting himself in a position which permitted an enemy to take advantage of his rear. ently serious study for a moment he said, "Well, wont I then be in Lee's rear?”
The Federal losses had been heavy in these assaults on Petersburg. The number of killed footed up 1298; wounded, 7474; missing, 1814. There are no official statements of Lee's losses, but they were severe.
The entire losses to Grant's army up to this time are thus stated in “Humphrey's Virginia Campaign of 1864–65." "May 4th to June 19th, including the Eighteenth Corps at Cold Harbor and Petersburg, killed, 8802; wounded, 40,518; missing. 9544; total, 58,864." Of the Confederate losses he says, “It was evidently their policy not
to make them public. The few official data to be got concerning them do not afford the means of making comparative statements.” Of those wounded on the Federal side, Dana estimates that twenty-five thousand returned to the army, leaving the actual loss thirty-three thousand, eight hundred and sixty-four. It is perfectly fair to assume that the Confederate losses in the Wilderness were equal to the Federal, and that in all subsequent engagements, up to this time, they were less, though relatively large. It is hard to determine this relation, but from the precision and general character of Grant's attacks there is no good reason to change the rule that an enemy's losses fighting behind field breastworks equal one-half of those suffered by the attacking party. The Confederate losses thus far would therefore aggregate something like thirty-five thousand; or twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand, supposing that a full proportion of their wounded returned to the ranks.
Lee's losses had been very nearly made up to him by reinforcements, and recruitments, and now that he was back amid the important garrisons of his capital and surroundings, he was stronger than when he started from the Rapidan. Grant's army had not been recruited in proportion to its losses, but now that it was with that of Butler, it was perhaps numerically stronger than when it crossed the Rapidan. Relatively, therefore, the strength of the respective foes was as before. The Confederates had their old advantage of inner lines, they were at home, so to speak, and their fortifications were more permanent and highly defensive than ever before. The Federals could operate with greater certainty, for the ground was not so cumbered with forests, but was still difficult on account of its irregularities. They had a short supply line and full control of the James below City Point.
Under these circumstances Grant was again to join issue with Lee, the strife not being so much for Richmond as for
Petersburg, which controlled Richmond, for the communications with the south and west without which Lee could not hope to support his army for a month or even a week, in a word, for Lee's army.
SIEGE OF PETERSBURG,
June 20th, the army around Petersburg had made its
position secure. On that night Butler was ordered to throw a pontoon across the James, so that a crossing might be made to Deep Bottom, into which a strong brigade was thrown. The base of supplies came to City Point, whence a railroad ran to Petersburg. Grant's lines now extended from Deep Bottom, north of the James, to the Appomattox. His forces were well in hand for future operations. It is twenty miles from Richmond, due south to Petersburg. They are connected by railway.
South-west from Richmond runs the Richmond and Danville railway. Out of Petersburg runs the Petersburg and Norfolk railway, southeasterly, the Weldon railroad, southerly, and the Southside railroad, southwesterly. To gain all these was to gain Petersburg, at least make its investment complete. To prevent their capture was the supreme object of the enemy.
Grant's operations involved both his cavalry and infantry. The latter were hard at work building entrenchments, erecting forts, digging mines, and pushing secret approaches, toward the strong works of the enemy which encircled the city. By means of them the lines of investment were pushed southerly and westerly with the hope of capturing the Weldon railroad, the Petersburg and Norfolk railroad having already passed into Federal hands. Perhaps no works in any age of warfare ever assumed the proportions of these. They were not only elaborate and strong in themselves, but their fronts were abat