11 Series I Volume XXXVIII-I Serial 72 - The Atlanta Campaign Part I

Page 11 Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.

again assaulted the enemy's works in the hope of driving him from his position. In this attempt our loss was heavy, while that of the enemy, I have reason to believe, was comparatively light. It was the only general attack make from the Rapidan to the James which did not inflict upon the enemy losses to compensate for our own losses. I would not be understood as saying that all previous attacks resulted in victories to our arms, or accomplished as much as I had hoped from them, but they inflicted upon the enemy severe losses, which tended in the end to the complete overthrow of the rebellion.

From the proximity of the enemy to his defenses around Richmond it was impossible by any flank movement to interpose between him and the city. I was still in a condition to either move by his left flank and invest Richmond from the north side, or continue my move by his right flank to the south side of the James. While the former might have been better as a covering for Washington yet a full survey of all the ground satisfied me that it would be impracticable to hold a line north and of Richmond that would protect the Fredericksburg railroad - a long, vulnerable line which would exhaust much of our strength to guard, and that would have to be protected to supply the army,and would leave open to the enemy all his lines of communication on the south side of the James. My idea, form the start, had been to beat Lee's army north of Richmond if possible; then, after destroying his lines of communication north of the James River, to transfer the army to the south side and besiege Lee in Richmond or follow him south if he should retreat. After the battle of the Wilderness it was evident that the enemy deemed it of the first importance to run no risks with the army he then had. He acted purely on the defensive behind breast-works,or feebly on the offensive immediately in front of them,and where, in case of repulse, he could easily retire behind them. Without a greater sacrifice of life than I was willing to make, all could not be accomplished that I had designed north of Richmond. I therefore determined to continue to hold substantially the ground we then occupied, taking advantage of any favorable circumstances that might present themselves, until the cavalry could be sent to Charlottesville and Gordonsville to effectually break up the railroad connection between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley and Lynchburg, and when the cavalry got well off to move the army to the south side of the James River, by the enemy's right flank, where I felt I should cut off all his sources of supply except by the canal.

On the 7th two divisions of cavalry, under General Sheridan, got off on the expedition against the Virginia Central Railroad with instructions to Hunter, whom I hoped he would meet near Charlottesville, to join his forces to Sheridan's, and after the work laid out for them was thoroughly done to join the Army of the Potomac by the route laid down in Sheridan's instructions. On the 10th [9th] of June General Butler sent a force of infantry under General Gillmore, and of cavalry under General Gilmore, and of cavalry under General Kautz, to capture Petersburg if possible, and destroy the railroad and common bridges across the Appomattox. The cavalry carried the works on the south side and penetrated well in toward the town, but were forced to retire. General Gillmore, finding the works which he approached very strong, and deeming an assault impracticable, returned to Bermuda Hundred without attempting one. Attaching great importance to the possession of Petersburg, I sent back to Bermuda Hundred and City Point


Page 11 Chapter L. GENERAL REPORTS.