“Everything looks exceedingly favorable for us”

Our bridgehead across the North Anna was attacked yesterday, but we were able to hold it.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. ARMIES,
Near North Anna, Va., May 23, 1864 – 11 p. m.

The army moved from its position of this morning to the North Anna, following closely Lee’s army. The Fifth and Sixth corps marched by way of Harris’s Store to Jericho Ford, and the Fifth corps succeeded in effecting a crossing and getting a position without much opposition. Shortly after, however, they were violently attacked, but handsomely repulsed the assault without much loss to us. We captured some prisoners. The Second Corps holds the bridge just above the railroad, and the Ninth Corps is between that and Jericho Ford, on the north bank, in face of the enemy. It is doubtful whether troops can be crossed except where the Fifth and Sixth Corps are. Everything looks exceedingly favorable for us.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 480

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 1, p 7

“The Second Corps will proceed to suitable campaign-grounds on the banks of the North Anna”

Our forces are proceeding to the south and have crossed the North Anna river.  So far their crossing has been unopposed.  Gen. Meade forwarded this report from Gen. Warren.

JERICHO MILLS, May 23, 1864-1.30 p. m.

Major-General MEADE:

The enemy made no show of resistance at this point. My infantry are fording. Pope’s cavalry will follow the first brigade. I do not believe the enemy intends holding the North Anna. There is no bridge here. I am fording. The point is about 2 miles due west from the Telegraph road at Carmel Church.

G. K. WARREN,

Major-General of Volunteers.

P. S. -I could have been over two hours sooner, but there was no one who knew the place as a bridge, and I was taken toward the bridge on the Telegraph road by a negro, who said he knew every brigade on the river.

G. K. W.

I have informed General Hancock, and asked him to send word to you if he knows where to. I fear this will be a long time reaching you.

[Endorsement.]

It appears from the within that Warren has crossed the river; should he go on or only the crossing? What should Wright do; cross after Warren or go to some point high up?

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

 

I replied,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
Moncure’s House, Va., May 23, 1864-2 p. m.

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: The Second Corps will proceed to suitable campaign-grounds on the banks of the North Anna, near the New Brigade, which is the crossing of the Telegraph road over the Anna. If possible, the bridge and crossing will be secured. This corps will also extend east to hold the railroad bridge. The Ninth Corps will take position to the right of the Second Corps and will seize Ox Ford, a ford over the Anna next west of New Bridge. If practicable, this ford will also be held. The Fifth Corps will occupy the bank of the river to cover and hold Jericho Ford. The Sixth Corps will take place on the right of the Fifth Corps. If any bridge or ford is to their front it will be seized and held; if none front effort will be made to open roads to the river at points where crossing may be effected to their front.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General

 

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

 

To the North Anna River, Gordon Rhea, Chpt 9

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 3, p 115, 125

“The enemy have evidently fallen behind North Anna”

I wrote Gen. Halleck,

BETHEL CHURCH, VA., May 22, 1864-8 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

The enemy have evidently fallen behind North Anna. Prisoners have been captured to-day from Pickett’s division, and there is evidence of other troops having been sent from Richmond also. Besides these, Breckinridge is said to have arrived.

The force under General Butler is not detaining 10,000 men in Richmond, and is not even keeping the roads south of the city cut. Under these circumstances I think it advisable to have all of it here except enough to keep a foothold at City Point. If they could all be brought at once to Tappahannock or West Point by water, that would be the best way to bring them. They might march across, but if the enemy should fall back of the South Anna this might become hazardous.

Send Smith in command, and send neither artillery nor cavalry, unless it is deemed expedient to marched over to West Point, thence up north side to join this command. I shall be on the Anna to-morrow or meet the enemy this side. Notify me which way they will be sent.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 477

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 3, p 77

“You may move as soon as practicable upon the receipt of this order”

We are ready to begin the movement south, to attempt to turn Lee’s right flank.  I wrote Gen. Burnside,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES, Massaponax Chruch, May 21, 1864.

Major-General BURNSIDE,
Commanding Ninth Army Corps:

GENERAL: You may move as soon as practicable upon the receipt of this order, taking the direct ridge road to where it intersects the Telegraph road, thence by the latter road to Thornburg Cross-Roads.  If the enemy occupy the crossing of the Po in such force as to prevent you using it, then you will hold the north side at Standard’s Mill until your whole column is passed, and move to Guiney’s Bridge. General Wright will follow you and will cover the crossing the Po for his own corps. At Guiney’s Bridge you will receive further directions if you are forced to take that road. If successful in crossing at Stanard’s, your march will end at Thornburg.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 476

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 3, p 64-5

“I fear there is some difficulty with the forces at City Point which prevents their effective use.”

“Butler was in position by the 6th of May and had begun intrenching, and on the 7th he sent out his cavalry from Suffolk to cut the Weldon Railroad. He also sent out detachments to destroy the railroad between Petersburg and Richmond, but no great success attended these latter efforts. He made no great effort to establish himself on that road and neglected to attack Petersburg, which was almost defenceless. About the 11th he advanced slowly until he reached the works at Drury’s Bluff, about half way between Bermuda Hundred and Richmond. In the mean time Beauregard had been gathering reinforcements. On the 16th he attacked Butler with great vigor, and with such success as to limit very materially the further usefulness of the Army of the James as a distinct factor in the campaign.”

I wrote Gen. Halleck to ask that an investigation be made of the reason the James River campaign seems to have failed.

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
In the Field, May 21, 1864-7 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

I fear there is some difficulty with the forces at City Point which prevents their effective use. The fault may be with the commander, and it may be with his subordinates. General Smith, whilst a very able officer, is obstinate, and is likely to condemn whatever is not suggested by himself. Either those forces should be so occupied as to detain a force early equal to their own, or the garrison in the entrenchments at City Point should be reduced to a minimum and the remainder ordered here. I wish you would send a competent officer there to inspect and report by telegraph what is being done, and what in his judgment it is advisable to do.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt XLVIII

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 475

O.R, I, xxxvi, part 3, p 43

“The attempt to turn our right last evening was by Ewell’s corps wholly”

An attack was made on our right flank yesterday by Ewell’s Corps.  It was easily repulsed.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
Near Spotsylvania Court-House, May 19, 1864 – 10 p. m.

The enemy came out on our right late this afternoon and attacked, but were driven back until some time since dark. Not knowing their exact position, and the danger our trains at Fredericksburg will be in if we move, I shall not make the move designated for to-night their designs are fully developed. We captured men from three different divisions of the enemy; all from Ewell’s corps.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
NEAR SPOTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE,

In the Field, May 20, 1864 – 8.30 a. m.

The attempt to turn our right last evening was by Ewell’s corps wholly. They were promptly repulsed by Birney’s and Tyler’s divisions and some of Warren’s troops that were on the extreme right. About 300 prisoners fell into our hands, besides many killed and wounded. Our loss foots up a little over 600 wounded and about 150 killed and missing. This is as near an accurate report as can be given at this time. Probably the killed and missing is overstated.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 468

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 1, p 6

“To-morrow night at 12 or 1 o’clock, he will be moved southeast with all his force”

Rather than making more fruitless attacks against a very strong rebel defensive position, I have decided to try to outflank Lee to his right again.  This should force him out of his works and into the open country.  I wrote Gen. Meade.

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES.

Near Spotsylvania, Va., May 18, 1864.

Major-General MEADE.

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: Before daylight to-morrow morning I propose to draw Hancock and Burnside from the positions they now hold, and put Burnside to the left of Wright. Wright and Burnside should then force their way up as close to the enemy as they can get without a general engagement, or with a general engagement if the enemy will come out of their works to fight, and intrench. Hancock should march and take up a position as if in support of the two left corps. To-morrow night at 12 or 1 o’clock, he will be moved southeast with all his force and as much cavalry as can be given him, to get as far toward Richmond on the line of the Fredericksburg railroad as he can make, fighting the enemy in whatever force he may find him. If the enemy make a general move to meet this, they will be followed by the other three corps of the army,and attacked if possible before time is given to intrench. Suitable directions will at once be given for all trains and surplus artillery to conform to this movement.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 464

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 2, p 864-5

“No vulnerable point presenting itself in the front now occupied, there will be no attack to-day”

Gen. Meade has been receiving reports all morning stating that this morning’s attack has not met with any more success than the ones previous.  Gen. Wright sent these dispatches,

MAY 18, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

I do not believe there is any point of the enemy’s front on my line that can be attacked with any reasonable prospect of success, and therefore advise that the attack be no further prosecuted. Certainly I can find no such point.

H. G. WRIGHT,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

MAY 18, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

I have already reported my opinion against the further prosecution of the attack on the enemy’s works, based partly on personal examination and partly on the report of Ricketts, who says he cannot advance successfully. I shall wait further orders for withdrawing.

H. G. WRIGHT,

Major-General, Commanding.

There seems to be no more point in continuing the attack, therefore I have ordered Meade’s troops to withdraw.  I sent the same orders to Burnside.

MAY 18, 1864-9 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

No vulnerable point presenting itself in the front now occupied, there will be no attack to-day. You will therefore assume a defensive position, holding yourself in readiness for being withdrawn to your left at short notice.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 465

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 2, p 878, 880

“The attack, therefore, will not be made as ordered”

I have spoken with Gen. Wright, commander of the 6th Corps, and Gen. Humphreys, Meade’s Chief of Staff.  They have convinced me that Lee’s position in his southern wing is too strong to assault.  We will have to adjust our plans.  I wrote Gen. Burnside,

 

May 17, 1864.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Army Corps:

A reconnaissance of the ground over which it was intended to attack to-morrow morning proves the ground entirely impracticable to pass troops over. The attack, therefore, will not be made as ordered. In lieu of that, Hancock and Wright will move back during the night to the old position of the Seconds Corps and attack them at 4 a. m. in the morning. Warren will commence with his artillery, which is so placed as to enfilade the enemy’s rifle-pits in your front; being prepared, however, to follow Hancock and Wright if they should succeed in breaking, or to strengthen Warren if the enemy should move on him.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

To the North Anna River, Gordon Rhea, Chpt 5

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 2, p 850

“I will let you know in the evening if the attack is to be made”

The weather has finally relented and we can begin preparations to assume the offensive tomorrow.  I wrote Gen. Burnside,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
Near Spotsylvania, May 17, 1864.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Army Corps:

GENERAL: If the division of re-enforcements under General Tyler arrive to-night as is expected, an attack will be made at 4 a. m. tomorrow to the left of the position now held by Warren’s corps. Hancock’s and Wright’s corps will commence the attack, and Warren’s corps will support batteries which will be established during the night. I want your to hold your command in readiness to move out of their present place at 3.30 in the morning, to move by the left flank, to follow up the two attacking corps and support them. If you move leave your pickets to remain until driven in or recalled. I will let you know in the evening if the attack is to be made. Send out some of your staff officers to reconnoiter the roads over which your will have to pass when you do move, and parties to make such repairs or new roads as may be required. My headquarters will be moved in the course of an hour or so to near the Anderson house.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

P. S.-I have just received news from Sherman. On the 15th he had whipped J. Johnston with a loss of 3,000 men on our side. Sherman was then crossing the Oostenaula. Johnston has evidently given up.

U. S. G.

 

To the North Anna River, Gordon Rhea, Chpt 5

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 2, p 849-50