Monday, April 02, 2012

Civil War Sesquicentennial Notes, 2 April 1865

As General Picket is attempted to withdraw from yesterday’s devastation at Five Forks, General Grant directs the Army of the Potomac (AOP) to pursue Lee in three columns. The center column composed of three infantry corps and part of the Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps will follow the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV). The columns to the left and right (or north and south) will use forced marches to outflank and outmarch the ANV in order to circle around it. The first objective of the southern column was to interdict the Richmond & Danville Railroad south of Amelia Court House thus preventing supplies from reaching the ANV or from the ANV using the rails to flee south. At this point, the ANV consisted of about 30,000 troops, 200 guns, and around a 1,000 wagons. If Grant is successful in the next couple of days, those wagons will not pick up supplies at Amelia Court House. It has been over 72 hours since Lee’s soldiers have eaten. Their horses are becoming so weak from hunger and fatigue that they are getting stuck in the mud along the river and creek banks. Grant’s three column drive will give them no rest. The Union Army knows this is the last push that will end this long and hard war. If, on the other hand, Lee can get to Appomattox Court House, if his supplies are there, and if General Johnson (who is being pursued by General Sherman in North Carolina) can also reach Appomattox, the Confederate armies, Lee hopes, may survive. How big those “ifs” are will be answered in the coming week.

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