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The War After Second Manassas

From Antietam, Lee retired to Virginia. With the coming of winter snows he bloodily repelled Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside in the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862. In the spring, Confederate arms achieved brilliant success in the defeat of Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Hooker in the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-6, 1863. Capitalizing on his victory, Lee again invaded the North. At Gettysburg, July 1-3, he was defeated by Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade. The next day saw the end of one of the most brilliant and decisive operations of the war with the surrender of Vicksburg to Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Its fall cut the Confederacy in two and opened the Mississippi to Federal commerce and control. From the telling force of these simultaneous blows the Confederacy never recovered.

On March 9, 1864, Grant was placed in supreme command of all Federal armies. Now as never before, the full strength and resources of the republic were marshalled for a great offensive to be delivered simultaneously on all fronts. Attaching himself to Meade's army, Grant crossed the Rapidan on May 4 to launch his overland campaign against Richmond, while Sherman began the famous march that was to carry him to Atlanta and the sea.

In the fiercely contested battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, May 5-6 and 8-21, respectively, Grant largely succeeded in destroying Lee's offensive power, forcing his retirement upon Richmond. Repulsed with heavy losses at Cold Harbor, June 3, Grant moved upon Petersburg again to encounter Lee's army.

Ten months of siege followed as Grant methodically cut the Confederate lifeline. On April 2, Lee evacuated Petersburg with the hope of reaching the Danville railroad and possibly effecting a junction with Johnston's forces in North Carolina. Grant's pursuit, however, was rapid and relentless. The cutting of the escape route by the Danville line and the disastrous defeat of a large segment of his army in the Battle of Sayler's Creek forced Lee to move farther westward to Appomattox Court House. There at dusk, April the 8th, the widening circle of Federal campfires brought realization that the end had been reached. The next day Lee surrendered to the magnanimous terms of Grant. On April 26, Johnston yielded to Sherman and by June all isolated units of the Confederate forces had laid down their arms.

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