“The distance was too great to Richmond or it would have been taken”

Although I told Julia I would not have the opportunity to write, I was able to write her a short letter.

 

City Point, Va. Sept. 29th 1864.

Dear Julia,
I have been out all day on the battle field and well up towards Richmond. Our troops surprised and captured a very long line of strong fortifications and took some fifteen or twenty cannon. The distance was too great to Richmond or it would have been taken. Before morning I presume the enemy will have his fortifications around Richmond well maned and we will have to stay out for the present. Our advance troops were within three miles the last I heard from them,—I have just received your letter written on the blank part of Jennie’s, You [are] right to tell the principal of the school you propose to send the children too that you understand the citizens of Phila are about presenting you with a house and if they [do] you will go there and take the children with you. If I was going to be at home all the time the boys might go to boarding school. But for me and them both to be away will leave you to lonesome. I feel that the time is now near when I shall be able to spend a good part of each week at home. I hope I shall not be disappointed. Good night dear Julia, I shall be very busy to-night and to-morrow to. There will be heavy fighting commencing at daylight in the morning if the enemy do not commence it to-night. I shall attack then south of Petersburg and East of Richmond at that time.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 241

“I will start up to Deep Bottom at 5 a.m. and may be able to judge of the force sent to the north side by the enemy”

With the success of Gen. Butler’s attack today against the enemy’s left, hopefully Lee will shift his forces to oppose him.  If so, our attack on Petersburg may succeed in taking the town. I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., September 29, 1864-11.30 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

You need not move out at daylight in the morning, but be prepared to start at, say, 8 o’clock, if you find the enemy still further reduced,or if ordered. I will start up to Deep Bottom at 5 a.m., and may be able to judge of the force sent to the north side by the enemy. When you do move out I think it will be advisable to maneuver to get a good position from which to attack, and then if the enemy is routed follow him into Petersburg,or where circumstances seem to direct. I do not think it advisable to try to extend our line to the South Side road, uncles a very considerable part of the enemy is drawn across the James, and then only when we are able to withdraw Butler’s force rapidly and it to you.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 240

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1094

“Kautz’s cavalry was in sight of Richmond at last accounts, on the Darbytown road”

Our attack continues to push forward.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

DEEP BOTTOM, September 29, 1864-4 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington:

Kautz’s cavalry was in sight of Richmond at last accounts, on the Darbytown road. A division of infantry has been sent to his support. I did not expect to carry Richmond,but was in hopes of causing the enemy so to weaken the garrison of Petersburg as to be able to carry that place. The great object, however, is to prevent the enemy sending re-enforcements to Early.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 231

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1091

“I am taking steps to prevent Lee sending re-enforcement to Early by attacking him here”

I received a telegram from President Lincoln expressing concern about a renewed rebel push up the Shenandoah Valley.

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 29, 1864-9.40 a.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

I hope it will lay no constraint on you, nor do harm anyway, for me to say I am a little afraid lest Lee sends re-enforcements to Early, and thus enables him to turn upon Sheridan.

A. LINCOLN.

The attack we are currently making should put an end to any chance of Lee weakening his position in Petersburg.  I wrote back,

DEEP BOTTOM, September 29, 1864-1.40 p.m.

President A. LINCOLN:

Your dispatch just received. I am taking steps to prevent Lee sending re-enforcement to Early by attacking him here. Our advance is now within six miles of Richmond and have captured some very strong inclosed forts, some fifteen or more pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners. Although I have been at the front, I can give no estimate of our losses. About 600 wounded men, however, have been brought in.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 228-9

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1090-1

“General Birney advanced at the same time from Deep Bottom, and carried the New Market road and intrenchments”

Our attacks north of the James River have been very successful so far.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CHAFFIN’S FARM, September 29, 1864-10.45 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington:

General Ord’s corps advanced this morning and carried the very strong fortifications and long line of intrenchments below Chaffin’s farm, with some 15 pieces of artillery and from 200 to 300 prisoners. General Ord was wounded in the leg, though not dangerously. General Birney advanced at the same time from Deep Bottom, and carried the New Market road and intrenchments and scattered the enemy in every direction toward Richmond. I left General Birney where the Mill road intersects the New Market and Richmond roads. The whole country is filled with field fortifications thus far.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 229

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1091

Battle of New Market Heights

Battle of New Market Heights

“All well. I will write no more. In the morning we fight another great battle”

I wrote Julia,

Sept. 28th/64

Dear Julia,
This letter is from the young lady in Lexington Ky. you have heard Wilson say so much about and in answer to some of his nonsense which he made a pretext to write to her.

The photograph is also hers. Save it for I know Wilson will want it some day. The other Photograph is of Dr. Rodgers’ who officiated 42 years ago last 27th of Apl.
All well. I will write no more. In the morning we fight another great battle and I do not feel like writing any thing more than answers to the many dispatches I will receive, troops will be moving all night preparatory for the great struggle which will commence at the dawn of day. You will hear however through the telegraph all about it before this reaches you.

Love and kisses for you and the children.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 228

“The whole of the force under General Meade will be under arms at 4 a.m. on the 29th, ready to attack Petersburg”

Sheridan’s victories in the Shenandoah Valley have given me reason to believe that a movement against Lee’s lines could meet with great success.  Butler will attack north of the James River.  Meade will then attempt to catch the enemy off balance by sweeping south around Petersburg.  I wrote Gen. Butler,

CITY POINT, VA., September 27, 1864.

Major-General BUTLER,

Commanding Army of the James:

Prepare your army according to the verbal instructions already given for moving on the morning of the 29th instant. Your lines between the James and Appomattox Rivers can be held with new regiments and such artillery as you deem necessary. All garrisons from your command below the mouth of the Appomattox will be left as they are now. The movement should be commenced at night, and so as to get a considerable force north of the James River, ready to assault the enemy’s lines in front of Deep Bottom, and from Aiken’s house or other point above Deep Bottom, where the two assaulting columns will be in easy supporting distance of each other, as soon as the enemy’s line is broken at the dawn of day. If one good division from each of your corps are over in time for this, with the balance of these corps following, with a pontoon bridge for each, it will answer. The object of this movement is to surprise and capture Richmond, if possible. This cannot be done if time is given the enemy to move forces to the north side of the river. Success will depend on prompt movement at the start. Should the outer line be broken, the troops will push for Richmond with all promptness, following roads as near the river as possible. It is impossible to point out the line of march for an army in the presence of the enemy, make it impracticable. It is known that the enemy has intrenched positions on the bank of the river between Deep Bottom and Richmond, such as Chaffin’s farm, which are garrisoned. If these can be captured in passing, they should be held by suitable garrisons. If not captured, troops should be left to hold them in their position, and should intrench to make themselves strong. It will be necessary, therefore, to have your engineer troops, with their tools, well up with the advance. Should you succeed in getting to Richmond, the interposition of the whole army (rebel) between you and your supplies need cause you no alarm. With the army under General Meade, supplies could be cut off from the enemy in the event of so unexpected a move, and communication opened with you either by the south side or from the White House before the supplies you would find in the city would be exhausted. In case you reach Richmond, the details for garrisoning and holding the place are left to or the senior officer of the troops that get in. One thing I would say, however, all the bridges connecting the city with the south side should be destroyed at once or held beyond a peradventure. As the success of the enterprise depends entirely on celerity, the troops will go right. They will take only a single blanket rolled and carried over the shoulder, three days’ rations in haversack, and sixty rounds of ammunition in box and on the person. No wagons will be taken. They will be supplied, however, with six days’ rations, half forage for the same time, and forty rounds of extra ammunition for men, to follow if they should be required. No wagons will cross the James River till ordered by you. The whole of the force under General Meade will be under arms at 4 a.m. on the 29th, ready to attack Petersburg or move to South Side road, as circumstances may determine. As against any force now north of the James River you can go to Richmond even without a surprise. If enemy resists you by sufficient force to prevent your advance, it is confidently expected that General Meade can gain a decisive advantage on his end of the line. The prize sought is either Richmond or Petersburg, or sa position which will secure the fall of the latter. Please furnish me with a copy of your detailed instructions.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 219-21

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1058-9

“They have as much right to demand that their votes shall be counted … as those citizens who remain at home”

Sec. Stanton has received a request from the Democratic Party Executive Committee to allow soldiers to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  He has written me to ask my opinion.  I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., September 27, 1864.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

The exercise of the right of suffrage by the officers and soldiers of armies in the field is a novel thing. It has, I believe, generally been considered dangerous to constitutional liberty and subversive of military discipline. But our circumstances are novel and exceptional. A very large proportion of legal voters of the United States are now either under arms in the field, or in hospitals, or otherwise engaged on the military service of the United States. Most of these men are not regular soldiers in the strict sense of that term; still less are they mercenaries who give their services to the Government simply for its pay, having little understanding of political questions or feeling little or no interest in them. On the contrary, they are American citizens, having still their homes and social and political ties binding them to the States and districts from which they come, and to which they expect to return. They have left their homes temporarily to sustain the cause of their country in the hour of its trial. In performing this sacred duty they should not be deprived of a most precious privilege. They have as much right to demand that their votes shall be counted in the choice of their rulers as those citizens who remain at home. Nay, more, for they have sacrificed more for their country.

I state these reason in full, for the unusual thing of allowing in the field to vote, that I may urge on the other hand that nothing more than the fullest exercise of this right should be allowed, for anything not absolutely necessary to this exercise cannot but be dangerous to the liberties of the country. The officers and soldiers have every means of understanding the questions before the country. The newspapers are freely circulated, and so, I believe, are the documents prepared by both parties to set forth the merits and claims of their candidates.

Beyond this nothing whatever should be allowed. No political meetings, no harangues from soldier or citizens, and no canvassing of camps or regiments for votes.

I see not why a single individual not belonging to the armies should be admitted into their lines to deliver tickets. In my opinion the tickets should be furnished by the chief provost-marshal of each army, by them to the provost-marshal (or some other appointed officer) of each brigade or regiment who shall on the day of election deliver tickets irrespective of party to whoever may call for them. If, however, it shall be deemed expedient to admit citizens to deliver tickets, then it should be most positively prohibited that such citizens electioneer, harangue, or canvass the regiments in any way. Their business should be, and only be, to distribute on a certain fixed day tickets to whoever may call for them.

In the case of those States whose soldiers vote by proxy, proper State authority could be given to officers belonging to regiments so voting to receive and forward votes.

As it is intended that all soldiers entitled to vote shall exercise that privilege according to their own convictions of right, unmolested and unrestricted, there will be no objection to each party sending to armies, easy of access, a number of respectable gentlemen to see that these views are fully carried out. To the army at Atlanta, and those armies on the sea-coast from New Berne to New Orleans, not to exceed three citizens of each party should be admitted.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 212-14

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1045-6

“Your victories have created the greatest consternation”

I received the following telegram from Gen. Sheridan,

HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION, Two Miles from Edenburg, September 24, 1864-6 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the United States:

The result of the battle of Fisher’s Hill gives us 20 pieces of artillery, 1,100 prisoners of war, a large amount of artillery ammunition, caissons, limbers, &c. Early expected to stay at Fisher’s Hill, and had placed all his artillery ammunition behind the breast-works. A large amount of entrenching tools, small-arms, and debris were also taken; no accurate list received. I have been disappointed in the cavalry operations which were to have formed a part of this battle. My advance was near Mount Jackson last night. The whole army is now moving forward. The country and small towns through this valley have a great many of the enemy’s wounded.

P. H. SHERIDAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., September 26, 1864-6.30 p. m.

Major-General SHERIDAN,

Woodstock, Va.:

Lee has sent no troops from here since your first victory, except two regiments and one city battalion to Lynchburg. This, I think, is reliable. Your victories have created the greatest consternation. If you can possibly subsist your army to the front for a few days more, do it, and make a great effort to destroy the roads about Charlottesville and the canal wherever your cavalry can reach it.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 208

O.R., I, xliii, part 2, p 162, 177

Meade: “I beg you will decide whether I had the authority to act as I have done”

I have been called upon to mediate a dispute between Gens. Meade and Butler over the command of the troops in my absence.  Gen. Meade had ordered that all rebel deserters be sent to him, and Gen. Butler countermanded the order. Meade wrote,

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
September 24, 1864-3 p.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

I beg leave to refer to you a dispatch just received from General Birney. When you directed me to take command of all the troops and line now occupied by General Birney I requested him to send to these headquarters any deserters that might come in, that I might be apprised of the position and forces of the enemy in the immediate front I was directed to defend. It would appear Major-General Butler has, with a knowledge of this fact, countermanded, without any reference to me, this order. I beg you will decide whether I had the authority to act as I have done, and if so, you will notify Major-General Butler of your decision, and request him to rescind his order.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.

I wrote back,

CITY POINT, VA., September 24, 1864.

Major-General MEADE:

The order giving you command of all the forces south of the Appomattox was given by telegraph whilst General Butler was absent, and may not have been known of by him. Your order to General Birney was right, but as troops of the Army of the Potomac take up the whole of the line occupied by the Tenth Corps to-night, it will only be necessary for me to inform General Butler why you gave Birney the orders you did.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

I also wrote Gen. Butler,

CITY POINT, VA., September 24, 1864.

Major-General BUTLER:

During your absence, and when an attack was anticipated, at the suggestion of General Ord, I directed General Meade to hold himself responsible for all of the line south of the Appomattox, and that all troops occupying such line obey his orders. It was under these circumstances that General Meade directed General Birney to send prisoners and deserters to his provost-marshal. The Second Corps relieving the Tenth to-night will make it unnecessary either to repeal or withdraw the order. All prisoners and deserters taken by either army, however, should be sent to the provost-marshal-general at City Point as soon as questioned. I suppose they have been so disposed of heretofore.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 200-2

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 987-8, 1003