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Old 18 Feb 11, 22:40
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It's my understanding that the fortifications built by both sides contributed mightily to the casualty counts. No marching army stopped for the night without some sort of "digging in". And once Grant faced Lee in Virginia, the works in front of Richmond were formidable. IIRC, Grant tried to flank the works repeatedly, but Lee was able to use interior lines to move troops to the trouble spots rapidly and meet the threat. This caused Grants attacks to become frontal assaults, thus the high casualties.

As for Lee's conduct, offensive or defensive, finer minds than mine haven't been able to come to a conclusion. It would seem that extended operations in the North, by a Southern army, might have put the Unions resolve to continue the fight to the test. I just think that by the time this realization was made by the South, the moment for action on it had long since passed. Lee's efforts were valiant, but doomed.
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