Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Michael Weeks.
The interest of the situation is concentrated on Petersburg. All witnesses report that a decisive battle is imminent. The greater part, perhaps the whole of GRANT’S army, is there facing our own in line of battle. He holds the abandoned fortifications – of little worth to him and none to us – while BEAUREGARD maintains intact the new works which were so tremendously tested on Friday and Saturday. These positions are very near – a few minutes’ walking would bring the adversaries to the muzzle of the muskets. If a decisive battle is fought at all it will be there. If GRANT withdraws from Petersburg, the last pretence of a campaign will be abandoned, and all the blood he has poured out from the Wilderness to that point must be upon his own head. It is GRANT’S last card. If the coming battle is a repetition of its predecessors, he himself must confess utter, hopeless, irremediable defeat.
No doubt can be entertained that he will make the attack. Nor can it be doubted that he would rather see the last man in his army slain than that it should fail. Yet we cannot help feeling some uncertainty, whether the fighting will be of that bloody and tremendous description which might, from [illegible], be expected. It is one thing to order a hundred thousand men to walk up and be killed and another to make them obey such a command. The order is one which the Federal General will issue with great satisfaction to himself, but it is not impossible that it may be so weakly executed, that his army will suffer far less than it did on Friday evening. After Spotsylvania, and after Cold Harbour, he attempted what he now proposes. He regarded those two butcheries as preliminaries only to the grand “battle.” But his troops fell on their faces, ran away, hung back, did anything but what he desired, when the hour arrived. So too, it may happen at Petersburg. On that new field the Federal army has already tasted the bitterness of death.
For the Confederate cause we hope GRANT will be gratified by an implicit obedience. Let him plunge with his whole force into the crater of the volcano and make an end of it. Let not the campaign linger. All parties are tired of this monotonous slaughter of Yankees. It is better for us that the affair shall have the decisive conclusion which GRANT will give to it, if he can.1
- No title. Richmond Examiner. June 21, 1864, p. 3 col. 1-2 ↩