James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
attempt was unsuccessful, demonstrated that there was still a great deal of fight in him and his army. The Union lines did not encircle Richmond and Petersburg, but left open an avenue of escape to the west and southwest. The Richmond and Danville railroad and its Petersburg connection, the Southside or Lynchburg railroad, which were the lines of supply for Richmond and Petersburg, were in operation. Grant spent days of anxiety lest Lee should abandon these places and, after getting away from him, either make a junction with Johnston, or, retreating by way of Lynchburg, secure himself in the mountain fastnesses and make a raid into East Tennessee. Should the two Confederates unite their forces he feared a long, tedious and expensive campaign consuming most of the summer.1 Lee considered the two alternatives and preferred the union with Johnston; but, if Daviss memory may be trusted, Lee never contemplated surrender but, in emulation of a plan of Washingtons, purposed as a last resort retreating to the Virginia mountains where he thought that he might carry on the war for twenty years.2 Taking all conditions into account the game was equal and was played with skill on each side.
On March 29, Grant began his movement on his own left and at night had an unbroken line from the Appomattox river to Dinwiddie Court-House. From his headquarters in the field he wrote to Sheridan, I now feel like ending the matter if it is possible to do so without going back. Two nights and a day of heavy rain interrupted operations, but on the 31st the advance was resumed, when Lee attacked the Fifth Corps and the Union cavalry and gained a temporary success. Sheridan in falling back, wrote Grant, displayed great generalship. On April 1 Sheridan fought in a masterful way the battle of Five Forks, which resulted