The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

By Philip Katcher | Go to book overview

The Final Campaign

By the spring of 1865 Lee and his army had lost the initiative to Grant. The only options left open were a push west and south for a possible link with Joe Johnston's army in the Carolinas. Grant, however, meant to finish the war at Petersburg and made the first moves.

Throughout the winter of 1864 Grant continued to probe Lee's exposed right flank. On December 9 he ordered a reconnaissance there toward Hatcher's Run that lasted two days. Reinforcements for Lee's army arrived in late December from the survivors of Early's army in the Valley, but they were matched by Union reinforcements from the same area. Generally, however, cold and bad winter weather kept both armies in their trenches at the front and the bombproof shelters in the rear.

Elsewhere, however, the situation was deteriorating. Fort Fisher, defending Wilmington, North Carolina, the last port open to blockade runners, fell to Federal assault on January 15, 1865. This meant that no longer would imported food, munitions, and clothing be available to Lee's men. In the west, a huge Federal Army-General Sherman's Army of the Tennessee-marched through Georgia virtually unopposed from Atlanta to Savannah, then in January turned and headed north toward Richmond through the Carolinas. The main Confederate Army to oppose Sherman had been destroyed by Union MajorGeneral George Thomas at Nashville during the battle of December 16-17, with a great deal of help from the poor strategy and tactics practiced by its commander, General John Bell Hood. All of this further affected morale in the trenches of Petersburg, as more and more men became convinced that their cause was already lost. Grant, always impatient to be on the move, launched another probe on the Confederate right at Hatcher's Run on February 5. Two corps with cavalry support pushed the Federal line further west, while Lee's army was becoming increasingly hard-pressed to cover its entire front. Lee began to look to the end, writing Longstreet on February 22, “Our line is so long, extending nearly from the

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The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Key to Maps 6
  • Foreword 7
  • Introduction 8
  • Part I - Creating the Machine 9
  • Background to War 11
  • Recruitment and Training 27
  • Nature of the War 43
  • Logistics 63
  • Part II - The Years of Attack 81
  • The First Manassas Campaign 83
  • Jackson's Valley Campaign 101
  • The Peninsula Campaign 119
  • The Second Manassas Campaign 139
  • The 1862 Maryland Campaign 155
  • Fredericksburg 173
  • Chancellorsville 191
  • Gettysburg 209
  • Part III - The Nature of the Army 229
  • Robert E. Lee 231
  • The Senior Command Structure 245
  • The Rank and File 259
  • The Army and the State Authorities 273
  • Part IV - The Years of Defense 285
  • The Winter of 1863-64 287
  • The Wilderness to Cold Harbor 301
  • Cold Harbor to Petersburg 315
  • The Final Campaign 329
  • Bibliography 345
  • Index 348
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