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and this simple and interesting interview ended. The next day, March 10, General Grant visited the Army of the Potomac, theu lying north of the Rapidan, in company with General Meade, its commander. On his return to Washington he immediately made preparations for his departure for the West, leaving on the following day.
On the 12th a special order of the President assigned, the new Lieutenant-General to the command of the armies of the United States, the headquarters of the army being in Washington, and “ with Lieutenant-General Grant in the field.”
The Lieutenant-General found opposed to him at the time he assumed command of the armies of the United States, General Lee in Virginia, who was the senior officer of the Confederacy, strongly posted along the south bank of the Rapidan, covering Richmond. Lee was the idol of the Confederacy, cool and brave, clear-headed and quick in the dispositions of a battlefield, an excellent gen. eral, and a worthy antagonist for Grant.
General Johnston, whom Grant had several times met and defeated, was in command of the second great army at Dalton, Ga. This army covered Atlanta, a great rail. road center, and an immense military depot for the Confederate army. Next to Richmond, of the most vital importance to the rebels, General Forrest was operating with a large force of cavalry in Northeastern Mississippi; while portions of Western Virginia, the eastern angle of Tennessee, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, were in the enemy's hands. West of the Mississippi, with' few exceptions, was also in rebel possession and held by a force of not less than eighty thousand men. This large force had become somewhat disintegrated by inaction and want of opposition by our armies. It will readily be seen that the objective points of the new campaign were Atla.. and Richmond.
To oppose and destroy the army of Lee, and to capture Richmond, was the duty assigned to the Army of the Potomac, under that able General, George G. Meade, who so brilliantly won the battie of Gettysburg. LieutenantGeneral Grant was to accompany him.
Upon Grant's promotion, Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman had been assigned to the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, with headquarters at Chattanooga. He was to operate against Johnston and drive him back and take Atlanta. His campaign was to be an aggressive one, to follow Johnston wherever he went and prevent his joining or reinforcing the army of Lee.
General Banks commanded the Department of the Gulf, and was to make an advance up the Red River as far as Shreveport. If his expedition was successful he was to turn over his command to General Steele. By withdrawing a portion of the garrisons at different points on the Mississippi he could collect an army of nearly thirty thousand men, and was to co-operate with Admiral Farragut in an attack on Mobile.
General Butler was to make an advance up the south bank of the James with an army of thirty thousand men, threatening Richmond. General Sigel was in command of the forces in West Virginia and the Shenandoah. He was to advance southward in two columns, to co-operate with the Army of the Potomac. Pending these movements all other organizations were actively employed in garrison duty in a hostile territory, protecting land and water communications, and in providing supplies for the army in the field.
A new era was to be inaugurated hereafter; instead of independent action of our armies east and west, the enemy was to be engaged at all important points at once and continuously, thereby preventing the shifting of troops from one point to another. They were to be beaten if possible, but if that could not be done, then they must be worn out by constant shocks and attrition-in the latter case force of numbers alone would in the end produce the coveted result. The sequel proved the wisdom of General Grant's plans and purposes as the director and supervisor of all the campaigns.
THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS,
On the 23d of March General Grant, accompanied by Mrs. Grant and his eldest son, General Rawlins and three other members of his staff, arrived in Washington. The eyes of the whole nation were upon him. For the first time the army of the United States was so unified that it could be handled to the best advantage. General Grant was given unlimited scope. He had left his trusted Generals Sherman, Thomas, McPherson, and others of lesser note, in the West, and was about to take command in person of the veteran Army of the Potomac. He at once placed the dashing and fearless Sheridan, hitherto in obscurity, in command of the cavalry service.
The Army of the Potomac was at once reorganized; the Corps were consolidated and reduced to three-the Second, Fifth and Sixth. The Second, commanded by Major-General Winfield Scott Hancock, with Generals Gibbon, Barlow, Birney and Barr in command of divisions, and Generals Webb, Owen, Ward, Hayes and Mott of brigades. The Fifth Corps, commanded by the brilliant and skillful Major-General G. K. Warren; his division commanders were Generals Wadsworth, Crawford, Robinson and Griffin, and brigades under Ayres, Cutter, Baxter, Barnes and Rice-all veterans. The Sixth Corps was under command of Major General John Sedgwick, one of the most popular officers of the army. He had more than once been offered command of the Army of the Potomac, but his modesty caused him to decline it. His corps had won a position second to none in the army, and fully deserved the epithet which it received as the “ Bloody Sixth,” He was ably assisted by Generals Wright, Getty and Prince as division commanders, with Generals Torbert, Shaler, Wheaton, Neill, Eustis and Russell, and Colonels Upton, Burnham and Grant, in command of brigades. Brigadier-General Henry J. Hunt was Chief of Artillery. General James C. Duane commanded a brigade of engineer troops and pontoon trains. The quartermaster's de. partment and immense pack of supply wagons was directed by Brigadier-General Rufus Ingalls. The whole, under the command of Major General George G. Meade.
The latter part of April the Ninth Corps, commanded by General A. E. Burnside, joined the Army of the Potomacat Culpepper. This corps was composed in part of colored troops, who were now for the first time sent to the front. Reinforcements had been pouring in
during the month of GEORGE G, MEADE.
April. Everything was
now in readiness for the army to move, and the order was given to advance.
On the afternoon of the 3d of May, 1864, the tents of the army were struck, and at night the troops began