“Should this occur it will become our duty to follow”

With Gen. Sherman making his movement from Atlanta to the sea, we must be alert for any weakening of Lee’s position to take advantage. I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., November 15, 1864.

Major General G. G. MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

The movements now being made by the army under General Sherman may cause General Lee to detach largely from the force defending Richmond to meet him. Should this occur it will become our duty to follow. In such case the Army of the James will be promptly withdrawn from north of James River and put in the trenches about Petersburg, thus liberating all of your infantry and cavalry and a sufficient amount of artillery. To prepare for such emergency, therefore, I would direct that you hold yourself in readiness to start in the shortest time with twelve days’ rations, six being carried on the person, and forty rounds of ammunition in wagons. Select from your command the best batteries to accompany you, not exceeding one gun to 1,000 men. It is not intended that these preparations shall be made to start at a moment’s notice, but that the articles shall be where they can be reached and loaded, and all preparation made for starting by the time your troops can be relieved by the troops of General Butler after such movement on the part of the enemy is discovered. A copy of this will be forwarded General Butler, with instructions to carry out his part promptly, moving night as well as day, if the contingency should arise.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 423

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 620