Wilderness and Spotsylvania 1864: Grant versus Lee in the East (Campaign)
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Grant and Lee fought near Chancellorsville, VA in a confusing series of battles amidst brush thickets and wildfires. Unlike previous campaigns, Grant simply kept flanking Lee, trying frontal assaults at Spotslvania's 'mule-shoe' and Cold Harbor along the way to laying seige to Richmond and Petersburg.
In May 1864 the Union Army of the Potomac under General George Meade had been in a leisurely pursuit of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia for nearly a year after the defeat of the Rebels at Gettysburg. Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee still retained his awe-inspiring reputation for wrecking Union armies that got too close to Richmond and Meade was still cautious. His tactics at Gettysburg were defensive and he was unsure that he was able to take the offensive against Lee. However, things changed when President Abraham Lincoln appointed General Ulysses S. Grant to command all Union armies. Grant came east and laid out a comprehensive strategy for the rest of the war.
In the deep South, General William T. Sherman would march out of Tennessee to cut the Confederacy in half by taking Atlanta. Grant would lead the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River and march on Richmond. He had the manpower and equipment to accomplish his objective, easily outnumbering Lee. Lee, on the other hand, was far from beaten and saw Grant as just another Union general to be sent packing, much as he had sent McClellan, Burnside, Pope and Hooker away two years before. As Grant's army slowly entered the tangle of woods beyond Fredericksburg known as the Wilderness, Lee planned to pin him there and destroy him as he struggled to emerge. The stage was set for the campaign that would forever dictate the terms of the Civil War in the East.
Sigel, but Richmond clawed back two brigades coming to Lee in order to stymie Butler. Lee tried to get them back by pointing out that Major-General P. G. T. Beauregard had troops to spare in North Carolina to help Ambrose Hill was a dogged opponent, famous for his red shirt. He was used to hard campaigning, but illness was slowing him down. (University of Kentucky) Richard Ewell was a 20-year veteran of the regular United States Army, where he liked clear orders. He was eager to show Lee that
carried out by Colonel Joseph Hayes, who pushed out a line of skirmishers from the two regiments he commanded. Coming to the edge of a clearing called Saunders’ Field, he stopped and saw men in butternut digging a trench line on the other side of the field. Meade, hearing the news, ordered Warren to stop and deal with the Rebels, then ordered Hancock to halt also. Even though Meade assumed the Confederates were a delaying force, his caution allowed his entire grand advance to stop, inviting the
their small, two-man “pup” tents made from a sheet of canvas that each man carried and put together later (3). At roughly 7pm, Gordon (4) ordered his men to advance. They fired a volley and charged, screaming at the tops of their lungs. The Union soldiers, some asleep, were caught completely by surprise. The flanking guards were swept aside (5) and the howling Confederates proceeded to roll up the entire flank, destroying the Union brigades of Brigadier-Generals Truman Seymour and Alexander
regiments (5,000 men) and manages to sneak them close to the Confederate trench line’s western face. The attack goes in and nearly succeeds, but falters due to disorganization of the attackers after penetration of the line and they are pushed back out. Grant believes that if a reinforced brigade could wreak havoc on the Confederate line, a corps might succeed, so pulls Hancock out of line and sends his corps on a long march in the rain to strike the northern apex of the Mule Shoe salient.
lighter opposition. He even signed one note “your friend.” Dolefully, Warren bowed to Meade’s wishes, trepidation evident in his reply to Meade. Griffin’s and Cutler’s divisions moved out over the rolling field and were stopped cold by a blast of muskets from Colonel John Bratton’s and Colonel Dudley Dubose’s brigades. The Iron Brigade from Cutler’s division, with two more brigades behind them, rushed forward. They got to the crest of the emplacements only to be knocked back by a storm of Minié