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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
FOURTH AND LAST YEAR OF THE WAR (APRIL, 1864--APRIL, 1865)
348. Grant and Sherman agree on a "Hammering Campaign." Early in the spring (1864) Grant and Sherman met and decided on a plan of action. The Confederates had been driven from the Mississippi; they now had two chief centers of power left. First, Lee, with an army of about 60,000, held the southern banks of the Rapidan and the Rappahannock (Map, p. 312), thus guarding Richmond and all the country south of it. Secondly, J. E. Johnston, with about 75,000, held Dalton, Georgia (a town a short distance below Chattanooga, Tennessee) (Map, p. 292), and all the country south and east of it.
Grant and Sherman agreed to divide their work: the first, with 120,000 men, was to move on Lee and compel him to surrender Richmond; the second, then at Chattanooga with an army of 100,000, was to march the same day on Johnston, beat him, and then push his way through to the sea. This was "the famous hammering campaign."' Grant and Sherman agreed "to hammer" together, "to hammer" with all their might, and never to leave off "hammering," until they had given the finishing blow, and permanently established peace, union, and freedom for the whole country.
349. The Battles of the Wilderness. South and east of the Rapidan is a desolate region known as "the Wilderness." (Map, p. 312.) Much of it is covered with a scraggy growth of oak, pine, and tangled underbrush. Grant's army began to advance into that region (May 4, 1864). Grant was headed for Richmond, and, sitting on a log in the Wilderness, he telegraphed to Sherman at Chattanooga (§ 348) to begin his march into Georgia. From that time until June, or about a month in all, Grant was "hammering" at Longstreet and other noted fighters of the Confederate army, first in the thick of the Wilderness itself, then at Spottsylvania Courthouse (May 8-18, 1864), then at Cold Harbor (June 3, 1864), on
1 "Hammering" in the sense of giving the Confederates no rest; Grant did this, largely, by direct attack; Sherman, largely by indirect or flank attack.
VIEW FROM LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN SHOWING THE TENNESSEE RIVER
The mountain rises to the south of the city of Chattanooga and commands a
view extending into seven states. To the east rises Missionary Ridge.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
the edge of the fortifications of Richmond, where, it is said, 10,000 of our "men in blue" fell in twenty minutes. (Map, below.)
It was a terrible series of battles, costing the Union army a loss of an immense number. Lee did not lose so many men because he knew the country perfectly, and was acting on the defensive. Grant had vowed that he would not turn back, but would fight it out on that line if it took all summer. He did not turn back, but he had to give up his direct line of advance and take another. Lee had retreated, and intrenched himself inside the fortifications of Richmond; in order to draw him out to a battle in the open field, or to find a more favorable point of attack, Grant now moved round to Petersburg on the south of the Confederate capital. (See Map.)
350. Captain Winslow sinks the Alabama; Early's Raid. Petersburg was strongly fortified, and Grant had to lay siege to it with shot and shell, as he did to Vicksburg (§ 344). While he was busy in this way, Captain Winslow of the United States war ship Kearsarge attacked the Alabama (§ 329), commanded by Captain Semmes. The fight took place off the northern coast of France (June 19, 1864). Captain Winslow gained the victory and sunk the vessel that had destroyed so many Northern merchant ships.
About the beginning of July (1864), Lee dispatched General Early with a strong force to make a dash on Washington. Early succeeded in getting within half a dozen miles of that fort-girdled
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
city, and then had to retreat up the Shenandoah valley. He carried off with him about 5000 horses and 2000 cattle to recruit the fast-failing fortunes of the men in "Dixie's land."1 Later in the same month Early's cavalry made a raid into Pennsylvania and burned Chambersburg.
351. Sheridan's Raid in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant now (August 7, 1864) sent General Sheridan 2 with a strong force of Union cavalry to lay waste the Shenandoah valley. (Map, p. 312.)
GRANT SHELLING PETERSBURG
Notice the defenses formed of stakes and trees in front of the Union army.
This valley was one of the chief strongholds of the Confederates, and Grant was determined to destroy everything in it which could support their men. Sheridan went to work with a will, and in the course of a few weeks he burned so many barns and mills filled
1 "For Dixie's land we take our stand,
And live or die for Dixie!"
This was one of the most famous of the Confederate war songs; it was originally a negro melody sung in praise of the South or "Dixie's land." It was a great favorite with President Lincoln.
2 General Philip H. Sheridan was of Irish descent, and was born in Albany, New York, in 1831; died, 1888. He graduated at West Point in 1853. In 1864 he was appointed commander of all the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, and after his famous "ride" to Winchester he was made a major general.
with grain, and drove off so many sheep and cattle, that it was said, "If a crow wants to fly down the valley, he must carry his provisions with him." Could "Stonewall" Jackson (§ 342) have revisited that beautiful country, -- the pride of his heart, -- he would have wept fierce tears over its heaps of desolate ashes, as the women and children of Chambersburg (§ 350) had wept and wrung their hands at the sight of their blazing homes.
352. The Petersburg Mine; Sheridan's Ride. Meanwhile (July 30, 1864), General Burnside (§ 339), acting under General Grant's order, had undermined the Confederate fortifications at Petersburg (§ 349) and placed 8000 pounds of powder in the mine. When it exploded it made a deep chasm or "crater" nearly 200 feet long. The Union soldiers rushed into the breach, hoping to enter the city; but the Confederate fire made it a gigantic grave for hundreds of brave fellows, while those who got out found themselves prisoners in the hands of Lee's army.
In September (1864) there was fighting in the Shenandoah valley between Sheridan and Early (§§ 350, 351), in which Sheridan gained the day. Later, Early took advantage of Sheridan's absence from his army to surprise the Union forces at Cedar Creek in the valley. They retreated, and the retreat soon became a panic. Sheridan was then at Winchester, about twenty miles away. He heard the cannon with their
"terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more." 1
Mounting his horse, he hurried to the scene of disaster. As he came up, the Union cavalry greeted him with a great cheer. "Face the other way!" shouted Sheridan to the retreating men. They did face the other way, and drove the Confederates "flying" out of that part of the valley.
353. The War in the West; Sherman's Advance to Atlanta. According to agreement (§ 348), Sherman began his advance from Chattanooga to Atlanta the same day (May 4, 1864) that Grant marched forward into the Wilderness. Atlanta was not only a
I See Read's poem of "Sheridan's Ride" in "Heroic Ballads" [Ginn and Company]; then read Sheridan's own modest account of the "ride" in his "Personal Memoirs,"II, 66-92.