After his twenty-thousand men were soundly whipped by eight-thousand Southern men under General A.P. Hill in mid-1864, at least one enemy general realized that only merciless attrition, starvation and destruction could force the Americans he fought to lower their arms.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Incomparable American Soldiers
“So much has been said about the morale of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg . . . and to say nothing about the splendid fighting of [General] A.P. Hill’s men and the cavalry at Ream’s Station in August 1864, and the almost daily fights that [Gen.] W.H.F. Lee’s cavalry had along the Boydton Plank Road and the Weldon Railroad at Ream’s Station, we swept Hancock’s celebrated 2nd Corps away from our front like the whirlwind.
Nothing stopped us and our force was far inferior [in number] to theirs . . . General A.P. Hill sent . . . for a mounted man who was familiar with the country, and he [Lt. Aldrich] was sent.
When he reported to General Hill, the General said: “Lieutenant, how many men have you with the cavalry?”
Lieutenant Aldrich told him that he had about two thousand and then asked: “General Hill, how many men have you?”
The response was: “About eight thousand, I think.”
Then the General said: “How many men do you think are in front of us Lieutenant?”
To which the Lieutenant replied: “All of Hancock’s troops, I should say about twenty thousand men.”
Lieutenant Aldrich then insinuated that the General was attempting a big job with the force he had.
General Hill then said: “Lieutenant, if we can’t whip them with this proportion we’d better stop the war right now.”
History shows well how he figured. General Hancock, when he returned from the hospital testified to the completeness of [his] defeat and told his Corps that the Confederate army could not be beaten, but must be worn out.”
(The Battle of Five Forks, David Caldwell, Columbia, SC, Confederate Veteran Magazine, March 1914, page 117)