April 1864 marked the end of the third year of fighting between the United States and the Confederate States of America. The long years of warfare bore heavily on the people of both the North and the South. Union forces continued to bombard Fort Sumter at Charlestown, South Carolina, but Banks’ Union army on the Red River was besieged with trouble from Confederate General Richard Taylor’s forces. In southwest Arkansas General Frederick Steele’s supporting column was bogged down as well. In other areas, raiding, patrols, reconnaissances, and guerilla activity continued on a daily basis, even as eyes were cast toward Virginia. With Grant committed to accompanying George Meade’s Army of the Potomac which confronted Robert E. Lee the question was when would Grant strike the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia?