Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/305
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trace your partiality with greater satisfaction. I will now attempt to give you the outlines of that campaign, for more than that is impos sible during this brief hour.
The Valley Campaign of 1864 had its beginning yonder at Cold Harbor, in sight of the spires of Richmond. From May 5th to June 3d, Grant, with 138,000 men, and Lee, with 52,000, had wrestled with each other from the Rapidan to the Chickahominy. Grant had telegraphed to Washington, May n, that he "would fight it out on that line if it took all summer." On May I2th, "that the enemy seems to have found the last ditch," and on May 26th, that " Lee is really whipped." But now June 3d had dawned, and as he hurled his masses, six miles long, upon Lee in general assault, another tale was told. Thirteen thousand men were sacrificed in vain, while Lee's loss was comparatively trivial. The bloodiest re- pulse with so small a loss that had occurred during the war had taken place, and when another assault was ordered, the remarkable spectacle was presented by the Army of the Potomac standing silent, sullen and immobile in " emphatic protest against further slaughter." Grant in his memoirs regrets that he ever made the assault, for in it he found the last ditch of the overland campaign, and on June I2th, he commenced withdrawing from Lee's front to the James. Four days later his entire army had passed over, the siege of Petersburg had begun, 59,000 of his troops, at a cost of 18,000 to Lee, had been wasted to put him where he might have gone without a battle.
PLANS TO RAISE THE SIEGE.
From the 8th to the 2ist of May, in this campaign, owing to the sickness of General A. P. Hill, Major-General Early, by assignment of Lee, commanded his corps. But Hill returning to duty, Early had scarce gone back to his own division when Ewell, who had be- come an invalid from the loss of his leg at Second Manassas, became disqualified for field duty, and Early succeeded to his place. Soon after Cold Harbor, Lee communicated to Early that he was matur- ing plans for offensive operations against Grant, and desired him to take the initiative with his corps. "We must destroy," he said, "this army of Grant's before he gets to James river. If he gets there it will become a siege, and then it will become a mere question of time." But while Grant was slipping off to Petersburg a new danger now threatened Lee in his rear; for war in the Valley again lifted its angry head.