The Army of the Potomac was worn out. The continual fighting for forty-five days at a disadvantage and without success, and the frequent marches by night had exhausted and disheartened the men. Gallant and skilful officers by the score, brave veterans by the thousands, had fallen. The morale of the troops was distinctly lower even than the day after Cold Harbor. Reënforcements were constantly sent to Grant but they were for the most part mercenaries, many of whom were diseased, immoral or cowardly. Such men were now in too large a proportion to insure efficient work. They needed months of drill and discipline to make good soldiers. Indeed a reconstitution and reorganization of the army had become necessary; this was effected during the many weeks of inaction from June 18 to the spring of 1865, a period covered by the siege of Petersburg, which now commenced.
At this time the President paid a visit to the army. The impression that I have tried to convey of the failure of Grants costly operations and of the armys demoralization might lead the readers imagination to construct a private interview between Lincoln and Grant, in which the President entreated the general to be more careful of his soldiers lives and warned him that the country could not or would not repair the waste of another such campaign of attrition. So far, however, as I know, there is no evidence of such an entreaty or warning. It is unlikely that the thought of either entered Lincolns head, inconsistent as it would have been with his despatch of six days earlier;2 and nothing had since occurred to change his view except the unsuccessful assaults on the intrenchments of Petersburg;