In the spring of 1864, Virginia, the Confederacy’s heart and soul, had not yielded any meaningful territory to the Northern armies. Robert E. Lee’s men had beaten back offensives by four Union generals during the past two years. But their adversary this time was a Union general who would not quit, Ulysses S. Grant, a quiet, rumpled man of simple tastes and a bulldog’s determination.
During six weeks in May and June, Grant’s Army of the Potomac prosecuted a relentless, blood-drenched campaign through northern Virginia that ended at the gates of Petersburg 100 miles away. At great cost — 66,000 Union casualties; 35,000 Confederate — Grant’s Overland Campaign sealed the Confederacy’s fate. Henceforth, Lee, unable to entirely replace his losses while Grant could, would never mount another major offensive.
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