I wrote Gen. Meade to give him the outline of the upcoming campaign.
CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA.,
April 9, 1864.
Major General G. G. MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
For information, and as instructions to govern your preparations for the coming campaign, the following is communicated confidentially, for your own perusal alone:
So far as practicable, all the armies are to move together and toward one common center. Banks has been instructed to turn over the guarding of the Red River to General Steele and to the navy, to abandon Texas with the exception of the Rio Grande, and to concentrate all the force he can-not less than 25,000 men-to move on Mobile. This he is to do without reference to any other movements. From the scattered condition of his command, however, he cannot possibly get it together to leave New Orleans before the 1st of May, if so soon.
Sherman will move at the same time you do, or two or three days in advance, Joe Johnston’s army being his objective point and the heart of Georgia hisi ultimate aim. If successful, he will secure the line from Chattanooga to Mobile, with the aid of Banks.
Sigel cannot spare troops from his army to re-enforce either of the great armies, but he can aid them by moving directly to his front. This he has been directed to do, and is now making preparations for it. Two columns of his command will move south at the same time with the general move, one from Beverly, from 10,000 to 12,000 strong, under Major-General Ord; the other from Charleston, W. Va., principally cavalry, under Brigadier-General Crook. The former of these will endeavor to reach the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad about south of Covington, and if found practicable will work eastward to Lynchburg and return to its base by way of the Shenandoah Valley or join you. The other will strike at Saltville, Va., and come eastward to join Ord. The cavalry from Ord’s command will try to force a passage southward; if they are successful in reaching the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, to cut the main lines of the road connecting Richmond with all the South and Southwest.
Gillmore will join Butler with about 10,000 men from South Carolina. Butler can reduce his garrison so as to take 23,000 men into the field directly to his front. The force will be commanded by Major General W. F. Smith. With Smith and Gillmore, Butler will seize City Point and operate against Richmond from the south side of the river. His movement will be simultaneous with yours.
Lee’s army will be your objective point. Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also. The only point upon which I am now in doubt is whether it will be better to cross the Rapidan above or below him. Each plan presents great advantages over the other, with corresponding objections. By crossing above, Lee is cut off from all chance of ignoring Richmond and going north on a raid; but if we take this route all we do must be done while the rations we start with hold out; we separate from Butler, so that he cannot be directed how to co-operate. By the other route, Brandy Station can be used as a base of supplies until another is secured on the York or James River. These advantages and objections I will talk over with you more fully than I can write them.
Burnside, with a force of probably 25,000 men, will re-enforce you. Immediately upon his arrival, which will be shortly after the 20th instant, I will give him the defense of the road from Bull Run as far south as we wish to hold it. This will enable you to collect all your strength about Brandy Station and to the front.
There will be naval co-operations on the James River, and transports and ferries will be provided, so that should Lee fall back into his intrenchments at Richmond Butler’s force and yours will be a unit, or at least can be made to act as such.
What I would direct, then, is that you commence at once reducing baggage to the very lowest possible standard. Two wagons to a regiment of 500 men is the greatest number that should be allowed for all baggage, exclusive of subsistence stores and ordnance stores. One wagon to brigade and one to division headquarters is sufficient, and about two to corps headquarters.
Should by Lee’s right flank be our route, you will want to make arrangements for having supplies of all sorts promptly forwarded to White House, on the Pamunkey. Your estimates for this contingency should be made at once. If not wanted there, there is every probability they will be wanted on the James River or elsewhere.
If Lee’s left is turned, large provision will have to be made for ordnance stores. I would say not much short of 500 rounds of infantry ammunition would do. By the other, half the amount would be sufficient.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 273-5
O.R., I, xxxiii, 827-9