“Now we will rest the men and use the spade for their protection until a new vein can be struck”

I received a report of today’s battle from Gen. Meade.  We have made some progress, but were not able to carry the enemy’s lines.


Lieutenant-General GRANT:

GENERAL: I advised you of the withdrawal of the enemy this morning from the position occupied last night. I immediately ordered an advance of the whole line, which in a short time found the enemy in force in an interior line about one mile from Petersburg. Having taken numerous prisoners, all of whom agreed in the statement that there was no force in our front but Beauregard’s, composed of three divisions, Ransom’s (or Clingman’s), Bushrod Johnson’s, and Hoke’s, I determined to endeavor to force them across the Appomattox. I according directed strong columns of assault to be advanced at 12 m. by Waren, Burnside, Birney, and Martindale, the letter commanding two divisions of the Eighteenth and one of the Sixth Corps. This attack was made punctually by Martindale, with success, he occupying the enemy’s line and taking some 40 prisoners. Birney, who assaulted in Gibbon’s front (his left), was unsuccessful. Warren was not quite ready, and Burnside, whose movements were somewhat connected with Warren, delayed also. About 2 p.m. Warren and Burnside commenced advancing and made considerable progress, without coming in contact with the enemy’s main line. About 4 p.m. Birney made a vigorous assault with mine brigades in columns of regiments, but was not able to carry the enemy’s line. Martindale also failed in an attempt to advance. Both these officers reported the enemy in very strong force, with heavy reserves masked in rear, from which I inferred that Lee has re-enforced Beauregard. These assaults were all well made, and I feel satisfied that all that men could do under the circumstances was done. I directed Birney and Martindale to secure their acquired ground and intrench their positions. At 7 p.m. Willcox, of the Ninth Corps, assaulted, but with no better success than the others. Warren’s assault about the same time was also without result. This terminated operations on our part. Our advanced lines are held and will be intrenched. The result of the last three days’ operations has been the driving the enemy from two lines of intrenchments, the capture of 4 guns, 4 colors severe, thought not more so than would be expected from the numbers engaged. It is a source of great regret that I am not able to report more success, but I believe every effort to command it has been made.


I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., June 18, 1864-10 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

I am perfectly satisfied that all has been done that could be done, and that the assaults to-day were called for by all the appearances and information that could be obtained. Now we will rest the men and use the spade for their protection until a new vein can be struck. As soon as Wilson’s cavalry is rested we must try and cut the enemy’s lines of communication. In view of a temporary blockade of the river being possible, I think it advisable that supplies in depot should be kept up to full twenty days’, besides ten days’ in wagons and haversacks. If nothing occurs to prevent I shall be absent to-morrow from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. up the river near the naval fleet.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 11, p 78-80

O.R., I, xl, part 2, p 156-7

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