25 MARCH 1882, Page 22



THE situation early in March, 1864, when Grant took command of the Federal forces, was briefly as follows. Meade, with the Army of the Potomac, on the northern bank of the Rapidan, con- fronted Lee and covered Washington. A force under Sigel was scattered in West Virginia and along the valley of the Shenan- doah. Thomas lay near Chattanooga, confronting Johnston, who, with head-quarters at Dalton, in Georgia, covered Atlanta. Northern troops held the line of the Mississippi, and less completely that of the Arkansas. West of the great river, a Confederate force under Kirby Smith roamed at will almost to Mexico. In all, the Confederates "held posses- sion of a territory 800 square miles in extent." Worst of all, they occupied nearly the whole of Virginia, with the exception of the small area covered by Meade. Beyond the exhaustion of the Confederate resources, little had been gained by three years of war and enormous sacrifices on the part of the Federals. The "Anaconda idea" was as far as ever from being realised, and no military genius had arisen who could weld the scattered forces of the North into a working machine. Of these scattered forces Grant was now supreme chief. " So absolute was the confidence reposed in their new commander, that not only did neither the President nor the Secre- tary (of War) suggest to him a programme of operations, but they both expressly desired him not to inform them of his plans." But though Grant was thus placed in possession of powers never accorded to Marlborough or Wellington, the difficulties before him must not be underrated. He had to operate over an immense area, through subordinates of very un- equal capacity. He was opposed to Generals who had shown marked ability, and who were certain to offer a desperate resist- ance. Moreover, brave as the Northern soldiers had proved them- selves, the army, as a fighting machine, had many weak points. In Virginia, the greatest battles of the war had been fought, and the Federals had received their greatest repulses. It was evident that Richmond and Lee's army mast form Grant's main objectives. Omitting minor issues, the following was the new plan of operations :—Meade, with all the force that could be collected, was to act directly against Lee ; Butler, commanding the department of Virginia and North Carolina, was to move from Fort Monroe, seize City Point on the James some 30 miles below Richmond, and operate against the latter city from the • Military History of Ulysses S. Grant, from April, 1861, to April, 1865. By Adam Badeati, Brevet Brigadier.Cieneral, United States Army. London : Sampson Low and Co.

south. Grant wrote to Butler, "If it should prove possible for you to reach Richmond so as to invest all on the south side of the river, and fortify yourself there, I shall have but little fear of the result." General Badean states that Grant "pointed out to his subordinate the importance of obtaining possession of Petersburg;" but , the name of this place, destined to become so fa,ffious, does not appear in the correspondence of this date, and its strategic importance was, perhaps, not fully realised at the time. Sigel, in the Shenandoah Valley, was to "destroy the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, so that it may be of no future use to the enemy Anything else that can be accomplished in the way of destroying what may be useful to the enemy in prolonging the war, will be well." Meantime, Sherman, massing the troops of his three depart- ments at Dalton, was to advance against Johnston and seize Atlanta.

The opening of the campaign was inauspicious. Early in April, the Red River expedition, for which Grant was in no way respon- sible, came to a disastrous end, and Sherman could no longer count on the reinforcement which had been intended for him. On May 4th, the great army of the Potomac, practically commanded by Grant in person, crossed the Rapidan, and. moved into the Wilderness, "a forest miles in extent, with few and narrow roads, and a dense and tangled undergrowth, the most imprac- ticable country possible for the manceuvres of an army." On this " impracticable " ground, the great battle of the Wilderness was fought on May 5th and 6th,—a battle remarkable for terrible slaughter, for the bravery of the troops on both sides, who fought under almost unprecedented conditions, and for little else. At its close, the two armies "still confronted each other on the same ground they had occupied twenty-four hours before?' To have fought this battle at all, leaves a stain on Grant's military reputation, and we think that General Badean feels the difficulty of defending him. He undertakes the task, however, and seems frequently to recur to it, as though fearing that enough had not been said. He states :—" The national army had not fought its way through Lee's lines ;" but adds, "nor had the rebels pushed Grant back against the Rapidan." Grant, it must be remembered, was strategically the assailant. "The way to Richmond was still unblocked, and by moving to the left, Grant could again compel the army of Northern Virginia to follow his lead." That is to say, that by sidling out of the Wilderness which he should never have entered, Grant would find himself in as favourable a position as that he held before the battle,—minus, however, some 14,000 men, numbers of whom had been miserably burnt, or suffocated, as they lay wounded on the ground. Moreover, the way to Richmond was very considerably blocked, as the event proved. If the result of this battle was "far from a disappointment" to Grant, we can but think that his estimate of what the results of heavy sacrifice should be, are peculiar. General Badeau does not seem to recognise the fact that Grant chose his own ground, and that, in such a case, nothing is gained by saying, "It was forest, not the enemy, that had thwarted" him. It would seem that the best justification for the battle of the Wilderness would be found in "the absurd idea that Grant hoped, or desired, to pass unobserved by Lee's right and reach his rear?' Bat, while we cannot acquit Grant of blame, we may freely admit that such a battle, if fought by others of the northern Generals, would probably have resulted in retreat, followed by months of inaction. Neither retreat nor inaction, however, recommended themselves to Grant, and on the night of the 7th he ordered a movement on Spott- sylvania. In this he was ably anticipated by Lee, and on the 10th a fresh battle was fought, by which, though "no ground was won, no palpable result obtained, still the sacrifices were not in vain." After this battle, Grant wrote a despatch, contain- ing the celebrated words, "I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer." On the 12th he attacked Lee's front again. There was fresh slaughter on a terrible scale. The Federals carried a portion of Lee's line, "but a new one formed again in their front, as strong as ever." On the 17th there was a third attack, also repulsed. From the 8th to the 21st Grant lost 13,601 men. Moving round Lee's right, he now attempted to seize Hanover Junction. Lee again fell back and anticipated him, while Grant, who had crossed the North Anna, was obliged to recross with a further loss of 1,143 men. Again, passing round Lee's right, Grant moved on Cold Harbour, to the great Southerner again in his front. After some pre- liminary fighting, Lee was attacked in force on June 3rd, and again

repulsed the Federals with very heavy loss. Grant's campaign north of the James was now practically over; it had lasted thirty days, and cost the Federals more than 39,000 men, on the lowest estimate. On Jane 15th, the bulk of the Army of the Potomac began to cross to the south side of the river. Thus early in the summer, therefore, the line on which it was proposed to "fight it out" was practically abandoned, and Richmond henceforth was to be approached from the south. Mean- while, Sherman had pressed forward into Georgia and threatened Resaca ; while Butler, after seizing City Point, reconnoitred the Petersburg Railroad, stated that his suc- cess "exceeded my most sanguine expectations," and was shortly afterwards (as Grant expressed it) "strongly corked up" in the peninsula of Bermuda Hundred. As he was merely containing a Confederate force considerably inferior to his own, Grant had, on May 25th, ordered a great portion of the hapless army of the James to recross and report to him. Petersburg now became Grant's primary objective. "I will have Petersburg secured, if possible, before they (the enemy) get there in much force." To this Lincoln replied with what, under the circumstances, appears touching faith, "I begin to see it ; you will succeed." The campaign, so far, must indeed have been a puzzle to lookers-on. Richmond, if not taken by the Army of the James, was to have been closely invested on the south. The Army of the Potomac was to have driven Lee back, shattered and demoralised. Yet, after a month of fighting, Lee showed an unbroken front, and covered Rich- mond in a position which the disastrous attack of June 3rd had proved to be impregnable. The South-James plan had utterly broken down, and it had come to this,—that the united armies of the James and the Potomac were to race with Lee for Peters- burg, a town some twenty-five miles south of Richmond. Can this really have been "the identical plan with which Grant moved from Culpeper ? " Again Lee anticipated his enemy. General Badeau hardly seems to realise the irresistible logic of events. "Lee, indeed, was moving at last the rebel chief must have been completely deceived." Yet Lee, the "second-rate commander," the man of "negative genius," not only managed to reinforce Petersburg and defeat Grant, but held the place, with Richmond, for more than nine months, repulsing the great assault of July 30th with heavy loss. Meanwhile, Early raided into Maryland, carrying panic to Washington and Baltimore. Time, however, was in favour of the North, and inevitable exhaustion was beginning to be apparent in the Confederate States. Sherman occupied Atlanta on September 2nd, having lost 31,600 men since he left Chattanooga. On November 15th he started on his famous but nnresisted march to Savannah, which he entered on December 21st. Signs of the end were now becoming visible. Hood was outnumbered and defeated by Thomas at Nashville, and Sherman was ordered to move up into the Carolinas, destroying their resources, while Schofield was with- drawn from the Tennessee to Washington and Alexandria, and despatched by sea to Cape Fear. Wilmington was occupied by the latter General on February 21st, 1865, and on March 23rd his force effected a junction with Sherman at Goldsboro. The strength of the North was thus being brought to bear heavily on Johnston and Lee. On the 29th, a portion of Grant's army round Petersburg was moved to the left to support Sheridan, who, with the cavalry, had moved out to cut the Sonthside and Danville railroads, Lee's main lines of supply. The latter detached a large portion of his command to oppose the movement, and was completely defeated at Five Forks by the able and dashing Sheridan. On April 2nd, Lee, abandoning Petersburg and Richmond, vainly attempted to elude Grant and unite with Johnston. Headed off by Sheridan and Ord, the gallant army of Northern Virginia surrendered on the 12th. On the 16th an armistice was concluded between Sherman and Johnston, and the war was at an end.

Of the great mass of interesting information which General Badeau has collected, but a slight idea can be given in a review. Where he seems to fail as a military critic, it is generally due to an excess of zeal for the reputation of his chief. It is im- possible to accept all his views of the Wilderness campaign, nor his estimate of Lee, with which they are closely involved. He does not seem to realise sufficiently that the Southern General was compelled, by the great material superiority in men and resources of all kinds at Grant's disposal, to adopt a defensive strategy. The commander of a weaker force cannot well divide and conquer his enemy," as General Badeau reproaches Lee with omitting to do. It is freely admitted that the latter neglected chances of assuming the offensive ;—after Fredericks- burg, for example, he might probably have destroyed Burnside's army ; but it is far more easy to recognise such chances after the event, than at the critical moment. The generalship which, having, as it seems to us, completely foiled Grant in the Wilderness, was able invariably to place an army across his path as he advanced, to defeat him with heavy loss at Cold Har- bour, and finally to anticipate him at Petersburg, does not seem to merit the term " second-rate." On the other hand, the commander who fought his opening battle under self-chosen conditions which gave no advantage to his superiority of numbers, and who, after a succession of front attacks always repulsed, and usually with great loss, found him- self ultimately reduced to comparative inaction in front of an enemy, to whom his own strategy has dictated concentra- tion, is surely liable to criticism. Professional soldiers will perhaps regret that General Badeau has not given us more tactical details. Such matters, for example, as the formations adopted and the numbers and mode of employment of the guns on both sides, are not sufficiently specified ; nor are the numbers of all arms present at given periods always to be found. But of Grant himself, General Badeau has given a vivid picture. The calm, self-contained nature, stubborn but not obstinate, never sanguine but knowing no discouragement, capable of arousing enthusiasm but showing none, stands before us in the clearest characters. Grant certainly evinced many of the highest qualities of a great General, but there was something wanting. Perhaps Sherman betrayed a partially correct instinct when he candidly wrote,—" My only point of doubt was in your know- ledge of grand strategy and of books of science and history ; but I confess your common-sense seems to have supplied all these."