Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ken Perdue.
The transfer of his operations by General Grant to the south side of the James River, is a movement of which there have been obscure intimations for some weeks past, and the occurrence of which has seemed almost certain for the last ten days. Indeed it has seemed so natural at this stage of the game, that the rebels, without having, we are confident, any real information as to our general’s designs, have been watching for this very operation and speculating as to its importance. But although, as we say, there have been obscure intimations of this movement for some weeks, we apprehend that it was not until the battle of the 3d near Coal Harbor, that it was finally decided to make it.
When the history of this campaign is fully known, it will appear, we think, that while General Grant had made some preparations for crossing the James River and resuming operations on its south bank, he reserved that movement as an alternative, to which he might resort in case he did not find a shorter way to success, on the Chickahominy. The battle of Coal Harbor was the trial which determined his choice. That battle has been described as a tentative effort, in which he aimed at finding out whether the enemy’s line could be cut by assault, or whether a slower plan of campaign must be adopted. As an assault it was not successful; and it has now been quickly followed by the determination to adopt the other method of approach to Richmond which the general had in mind.
The movement was made with the same celerity and skill which has marked all the manœuvres of that army, under its present superb executive management. Warren with the Fifth corps, it will be remembered, had, at our last advices, been sent to the right to seize Bottom Bridge, — as it now appears for the purpose of covering this movement. Smith who was then on the right of our centre was withdrawn, leaving the four corps on the Chickahominy with Burnside on the right, then Wright, then Hancock, and Warren on the left. It would seem that on this as on former occasions the right was withdrawn first, Burnside and Wright marching in the rear of the other corps to Jones Bridge, twelve or fifteen miles down the Chickahominy, crossing there and going on to Charles City Court House, and Hancock and Warren then crossing at Long Bridge, which is much nearer, and taking a more direct road to Wilcox’s. This brought the whole army to the James not far from Harrison’s Landing, and, as we are glad to read, “without accident.”
General Grant has thus transferred his forces to a section which is much more favorable for his operations than that where he has been for the past two weeks, and is free from the malaria which would have decimated his army had he remained on the Chickahominy. He has also effected that union with General Butler which has seemed so desirable, and will now approach his great task again, with a preliminary movement doubtless on Petersburg, under circumstances which afford the most solid ground for hope in his success.1
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- Boston Daily Advertiser, June 16, 1864 ↩