Recollections of the Civil War: With the Leaders at Washington and in the Field in the Sixties

By Charles A. Dana | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV.
THE MARCH ON PETERSBURG.

In camp at Cold Harbor -- Grant's opinion of Lee -- Trouble with newspaper correspondents -- Moving south of the James River -- The great pontoon bridge -- The fighting of the colored troops -- Failure to take Petersburg at first attack -- Lee loses Grant and Beauregard finds him -- Beauregard's service to the Confederacy.

THE affair of June 3d at Cold Harbor showed that Lee was not to be driven from his position without a great sacrifice of life. A left flank movement south of the James River was accordingly decided upon by Grant. This was no new idea; that eventuality had been part of the original plan of campaign, and preparations for bridging the James had been ordered as early as the 15th of April, three weeks before the battle of the Wilderness. One object of the movement across the James was to cut off Richmond's line of supplies from the south. But before this could be done another matter had to be attended to.

In General Grant's plan of campaign the effectual destruction of the Virginia Central Railroad was an indispensable feature. In moving from Culpeper he had expected that before reaching the Chickahominy he would have a chance to crush Lee's army by fighting. This would have allowed him an undisturbed opportunity to destroy that road, as well as the Fredericks

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