NP: June 13, 1864 San Francisco Bulletin: Approaching Richmond from Two Ways



in June 1864

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ken Perdue.

Approaching Richmond from Two Ways.

The Richmond Examiner of the 7th says the impression prevails there that Grant will attempt the capture of Richmond from the south. This is by no means improbable. He has by virtue of hard fighting and skillful strategy marched triumphantly through a long stretch of Virginia, every hill of which was fortified and every river bank bristling with opposing arms, until he has gained the north bank of the Chickahominy — his base of supplies being close in his rear and accessible by railroad, and Richmond only five miles in his front. This line he proceeds to protect with entrenchments, to put into such condition that but comparatively a small body of his troops will be required to protect it. Meanwhile, at the very beginning of his campaign, he sent Butler to take and hold an easily defended position on the south of the James, and within 15 miles of Richmond. Butler’s first duty was to menace Petersburg, to cut the lines of railroad communication between Richmond and the south, and detain Beauregard as long as possible away from Lee. All this he did. The destruction of the railroads was of course but a temporary expedient, nor had he the force necessary to keep Beauregard permanently back from joining Lee. But his main object was doubtless simply to hold his position south of the James until further orders. When Grant arrived south of the Rapidan, Baldy Smith’s corps, which had previously operated with Butler, was called off to reinforce the main army. But Butler remained, holding his position, for some purpose to be developed in the future. It begins to look now as if that aim were being discovered. When Grant took Vicksburg he moved down from the north, past its western front, then swept a half circle till he fronted Vicksburg due west of him, and in that line he moved up to his glorious victory. It would seem now as if he meant, after making the Chickahominy entrenchments so strong that a fraction of his army could with their aid keep back the enemy, to swing down the York and up the James to Butler’s position with at least a considerable portion of his army, and then keep Lee in perpetual doubt as to whether the main assault is to come from the east or the south. Even though the city were equally protected by fortifications on either side, there are some apparently good reasons why the final movement should come from the south. When Grant invests Richmond on the south, he commands the Petersburg and Danville railroads, by the one or other of which Lee must obtain his supplies, for since Hunter’s close approach to Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley, and Crooks’ arrival at Wytheville, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad must be a very precarious carrier of supplies and a very perilous way to think of escaping out of Virginia. When Grant commands the roads leading south from Richmond, and the column in the Shenandoah Valley has possession of Staunton, Lee must either make his dash upon Washington without any supplies to draw on, (and for that he clearly has no stomach,) consent to be shut up in Richmond, or withdraw down York peninsula which would be retreating into a trap from which there can be no escape. If Lee strikes boldly at the Chickahominy army, the army from Bermuda Hundreds is upon him. If he retires to Richmond to defend it from its invaders across the James, the Chickahominy army may advance its lines and close the tighter upon the devoted city. The two blades may shut down together upon him and the wretched city he defends, so that to the last it may be a question which destroyed him.1

Note: This newspaper article is used with the permission of  All rights reserved.


  1. San Francisco Bulletin, June 13, 1864


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