Monday, May 14, 2007
"Blue-Grey", Painting by Mort Kunstler
After the Battle of the Wilderness that began his campaign against Lee, Grant had written dediantly to Washington, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all Summer."
Although General Ulysses S. Grant had admitted defeat at the protracted Battle of Spotsylvania, he continued to move the Army of the Potomac south into Virginia in his campaign of attrition against General Rober E. Lee;s Army of Northern Virginia. General Grant intended to outflank Lee, cutting him off from Richmond, the Confederate Capital.
In his efforts to block Grant's advance, Lee was being driven back towards Richmond. On May 30, Grant moved his army toward the vital road junction at Old Cold Harbor, a locality in Hanover county, Va., originally known as Cool Arbor, sending cavalry units ahead. Lee anticipated the move and had dispatched his own cavalry to the crossroads.
On June 1, 1864, the Federals found the Army of Northern Virginia well entrenched at Cold Harbor. Grant was determined to send his army, full strength, into those enemy breastworks and get it over with once and for all. It was the most disastrous decision he ever made.
Because of the swampy ground of the Chickhominy River which was to his left, Grant chose a frontal assault on the entrenched Rebel force. On June 3, the attack was launched along a 2-mile front. It was a massive charge, 60,000 men from three Corps. The Confederates entrenched as they were had prepared interlocking fields of fire and the Union infantry was slaughtered. Within a matter of minutes, 7 to 8,000 Union soldiers were lost and Grant was forced to abandon the attack.
One Southern officer, a colonel, noted that; "...the dead covered more than 5 acres of ground about as thick as they could be laid."
Some skirmishing continued at Cold Harbor for some days, but Grant realized he would have to continue the flanking attacks. This time, he moved south of Richmond towards Peterburg.
In his memoirs, Grant would later write of that day at Cold Harbor. "I regret this assault more than any one I heave ever ordered." He added, accurately enough, "No advantage whatsoever was gained from the heavy loss we sustained."
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]