It’s April 1864…
…Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant has placed his command in the field with the largest arm of the Union War Machine — The Army of the Potomac. With his Headquarters now in Culpeper, Grant begins coordinating with the other forces arrayed around the Confederacy while also inspecting, talking to, and getting to know the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac. It is at this point that Grant has placed his trust in Meade and his senior generals to devise the opening moves of the Overland Campaign in just a few weeks.
“The only point upon which I am now in doubt is whether it will be better to cross the Rapidan above or below him.”
— Lt.Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
“‘Man proposes and God disposes.’ There are but few important events in the affairs of men brought about by their own choice.”
— Ethan S. Rafuse, U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, quoting from Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs
“The foe that held his guarded hills — Must speed to woods afar;
For the scheme that was nursed by the Culpepper hearth — With the slowly-smoked cigar—
The scheme that smouldered through winter long — Now bursts into act—into war—
The resolute scheme of a heart as calm — As the Cyclone’s core.”
— Herman Melville: The Armies of the Wilderness – First Appearance in “Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War” (1866), page 107
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- Union Army Actions in The Wilderness (May 5th, 1864)