“This is all that it ever wanted to make it as good an army as ever fought a battle”

I took a moment to write to Sherman with the news of our victory.

April 3, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: The movements of which I spoke to you when you were here commenced on the 28th, and, notwithstanding two days of rain which followed, rendering roads almost impassable even for cavalry, terminated in the fall of both Richmond and Petersburg this morning. The mass of Lee’s army was whipped badly south of Petersburg, and to save the remnant he was forced to evacuate Richmond. We have about 12,000 prisoners, and stragglers are being picked up in large numbers.

From all causes I do not estimate his loss at less than 25,000. Sheridan, with his cavalry and one corps of infantry, was on our extreme left. The attack which ended the contest was made in the center. All to the right of the point of attack were forced into Petersburg, or killed, or captured. Those to the left of it were cut off (our left) and forced to retreat up the Appomattox. Sheridan pushed in and intercepted them, forcing them to the north side, and with great loss. The troops from Petersburg, as well as those from Richmond, retreated between the two rivers, and there is every indication that they will endeavor to secure Burkeville and Danville. I am pursuing with five corps and the cavalry and hope to capture or disperse a large number more. It is also my intention to take Burkeville and hold it until it is seen whether it is a part of Lee’s plan to hold Lynchburg and Danville. The railroad from Petersburg up can soon be put in condition to supply an army at that place. If Lee goes beyond Danville you will have to take care of him with the force you have for a while.

It is reported here that Johnston has evacuated Raleigh and is moving up to join Lee. Should he do so you will want either to get on the railroad south of him to hold it or destroy it so that it will take him a long time to repair damages. Should Lee go to Lynchburg with his whole force and I get Burkeville there will be no special use in you going any farther into the interior of North Carolina. There is no contingency that I can see except my failure to secure Burkeville that will make it necessary for you to move on to the Roanoke as proposed when you were here. In that case in might be necessary for you to operate on the enemy’s lines of communication between Danville and Burkeville, whilst I would act on them from Richmond between the latter place and Lynchburg.

This army has now won a most decisive victory and followed the enemy. This is all that it ever wanted to make it as good an army as ever fought a battle.

Yours, truly,

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 338-9

O.R, I, xlvi, part 3, p 510

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