‘I Now Feel Like Ending the Matter’ – Grant Begins the Final Campaign

March 29, 1865 (Wednesday) It had been planned for days, and the small battle at Fort Stedmen did nothing to deter or postpone it. General Grant had ordered a general movement “made for the purpose of extending our lines to the west as far as practicable towards the enemy’s extreme right, or Five Forks.” TheRead More

Lincoln: Let them Surrender and Go Home

March 28, 1865 (Tuesday) Gathered in the steamer River Queen were President Lincoln, Generals Grant and Sherman, as well as Admiral Porter. This council of war permitted no onlookers, though all but Lincoln wrote of the meeting after the war. Admiral Porter may have been the only one to take notes. The conversation, according toRead More

Sherman’s Lovely Little Visit with Grant and Lincoln

March 27, 1865 (Monday) While the Confederates struggled to figure out just how to escape from Petersburg, across the lines, General Grant had received word that General Sherman was about to visit. That afternoon, the two were reunited. “Their encounter was more like that of two school-boys coming together after a vacation than the meetingRead More

‘I Fear Now It Will Be Impossible’ – Lee With Nowhere to Turn

March 26, 1865 (Sunday) With the utter failure of the assault upon Fort Stedmen the day previous, General Robert E. Lee had now to consider what was best for his army. But first, he had to explain to President Jefferson Davis why he took the risk of an assault, and why it failed. “I haveRead More

‘This Last Supreme Effort’ – Confederates Assault Fort Stedman

March 25, 1865 (Saturday) Captain John F. Burch, 3rd Maryland Infantry: “At 4am I visited the picket-line and saw that the men were up. On visiting the line I did not notice anything unusual on the enemy’s lines. After visiting the right of the picket-line I returned to the left of that portion of theRead More

‘The Most Inviting Point for Attack’ – Lee Plans to Assault Grant

March 24, 1865 (Friday) Since the early days of March, General Lee had become certain that he could not hold Petersburg come spring. He would have, claimed Jefferson Davis after the war, simply abandoned the city at once had not his horses been too weak to pull their burdens through the quagmire that passed forRead More

‘I Can Do No More Than Annoy Him’ – Johnston Must Give Up

March 23, 1865 (Thursday) Following the Battle of Bentonville, Joseph Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces, retreated across Mill Creek, into and through the town. Taking up positions a couple of miles beyond the crossing, Jo Wheeler’s cavalry held the bridge until the Federals came near to crossing. By that evening, Johnston’s army was near Smithfield.Read More