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Whittaker, Frederick, 1838-1889 / A complete life of Gen. George A. Custer: Major-General of Volunteers; Brevet Major-General, U.S. Army; and Lieutenant-Colonel, Seventh U.S. Calvery
(1876)

Chapter IV. Five forks,   pp. [279]-296


Page [279]


CHAPTER IV.
                       FIVE FORKS.
ON the 27th of March the cavalry corps went into camp
      behind the extreme left of Grant's Army of the Potomac,
at Hancock Station. This station was the terminus of the
m'ilitary railroad, which ran from flank to flank of the besiegers,
occupying, as they did, a line of nearly fifteen miles in length.
There they had lain in front of Lee's lines at Petersburg for
somle nine weary months, in the monotony of siege operations,
wherein incessant picket firing and equally incessant- artillery
duels by day, were alternated with pauses of sulky repose, after
a more than common expenditure of ammunition. The only
reliefs to the monotony had been found in the occasional
attempts of the Federals to extend their left wing and turn Lee's
right. These attempts had taken place at various intervals, the
most desperate and successful having been made by the Second
Corps, under the lead of Hancock. This cause led to the nam-
ing of the last station of the military railroad after that dashing
corps commander.
   So far Lee had succeeded in maintaining his main position
intact, in spite of the inferior numbers with which he confronted
Grant. His skillful use of fortifications made his lines impreg-
nable, and he was able to hold them one against ten, with little
difficulty or danger. Thus he could always spare for the threat-
ened flank sufficient force to repel any assault and prevent the
turning of his position. The country on that flank was foi some
distance much like the Wilderness he had found so favorable


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