DescriptionUlysses S. Grant Historically Important Military Autograph Letter Signed: General Grant tells General Meade he has instructed General Ord "to conceal his movements from the enemy if he can" and replace the 2nd Corps. The 2nd Corps then participated in the pursuit of General Lee to Appomattox Court House where Lee surrendered to General Grant just 13 days after this letter was written.
Signed: "U.S. Grant/Lt. Gen", one page, 7.75" x 10". City Point, Va. March 27, 1865. To Major General George G. Meade. On "Head Quarters Armies of the United States" stationery. In full: "Gen. Ord draws his troops out of the position they now occupy to-night. They can not march at night however the whole distance without losing a great number of men by stragling [sic] and as they will be in view of the enemy most of the time after they reach Broadway Landing I do not think it possible to cancel his movements. His instructions are to get up so as to pickets as early on Wednesday as possible. I will also instruct Ord to conceal his movements from the enemy if he can. It is only the place of the pickets of 2d Corps that Ord will replace and the command will be in compact marching order near to Hatcher's Run." Grant had sent this urgent message to General Meade as a telegram, noting at the top: "(Cipher)."
The text of this telegram can be found in the letter books maintained at Grant's headquarters by clerks, one copy of which is in the National Archives, and in the letter books which remained in Grant's possession and were eventually given by his family to the Library of Congress. The letter books tell us that this telegram was sent at 3 P.M. in reply to General Meade's 1 P.M. telegram to Grant: "General Ord telegraphs he is directed to take position occupied by the 2d Corps & his command will be at Broadway by noon tomorrow ready to move. This would indicate his crossing the bridge by daylight and making known his movement to the enemy; Do you intend this & do you design he should occupy Humphrey's line? I do not know of any objection to the latter except his troops will not be quite so well in hand as if moved near Hatchers Run. I think however his movements ought to be concealed from the enemy if practicable."
When General Grant answered Meade's telegram at 3 P.M., he also telegraphed General Ord: "It is only the pickets of the 2nd Corps I want you to replace. Your Command will be moving up in Compact marching order near to Hatchers Run on the left of our lines. This is the ground which you are to occupy tomorrow night without being observed by the enemy I would like you to do it."
On March 27, 1865, Union General Ulysses S. Grant was massing his troops, replacing those of General George G. Meade with those of General Edward O.C. Ord. The Army of the Potomac that Meade commanded was the main striking unit moving on Grant's left to encircle Confederate General Robert E. Lee and force him out of Petersburg and Richmond. The troops of Ord, replacing those of Meade, were in position to occupy Petersburg and Richmond. With his troops in place, General Grant began his final offensive against General Lee two days later.
From General Grant's July 22, 1865, report to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: "On the night of the 27th [March 27th], Major-General Ord, with two divisions of the Twenty-fourth Corps, Major-General Gibbon commanding, and one division of the Twenty-fifth Corps, Brigadier-General Birney commanding, and Mackenzie's cavalry, took up his line of march in pursuance of the foregoing instructions, and reached the position assigned him near Hatcher's Run on the morning of the 29th...Early on the morning of the 8th [April 8th] , the pursuit was resumed. General Meade followed north of the Appomattox, and General Sheridan, with all the cavalry, pushed straight for Appomattox Station, followed by General Ord's command and the Fifth Corps. During the day General Meade's advance had considerable fighting with the enemy's rear guard, but was unable to bring on a general engagement. Late in the evening General Sheridan struck the railroad at Appomattox Station, drove the enemy from there, and captured twenty-five pieces of artillery, a hospital train, and four trains of cars loaded with supplies for Lee's army. During this day I accompanied General Meade's column...On the morning of the 9th, General Ord's command and the Fifth Corps reached Appomattox Station just as the enemy was making a desperate effort to break through our cavalry. The infantry was at once thrown in. Soon after a white flag was received, requesting a suspension of hostilities pending negotiations for a surrender."
With an engraving of Meade and a map of the area referred to in Grant's letter.
This remarkable letter, telegraphed by Grant to Meade with orders which ultimately led to Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox just 13 days later, is in very fine condition, with light wrinkles in the blank upper right corner. It would be the cornerstone of a Civil War collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.
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