Thursday, October 9, 2014

June 9, 1864


June 9, 1864

 

---A force of Federals under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler try a half-hearted attack on Petersburg, Virginia, in an attempt to undermine Lee’s position around Richmond.  His 4,500 men are beaten off by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s 2,500 men.  Butler decides not to try again.

 

---Gen. Sherman issues orders to his three columns---McPherson, Thomas, and Schofield---to take three parallel routes south with the aim of converging upon Marietta, where Joseph Johnston and Army of Tennessee await them.

 

---A Union force strikes back at Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and drives Morgan and his raiders out in a rout.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

June 8, 1864


June 8, 1864

 

---The National Union Party, a coalition party of Republicans and pro-war Democrats, convened in Balitmore yesterday.  Today, by a large majority, they nominate Abraham Lincoln for President.  In an unusual move, however, they do not re-nominate Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, but Andrew Johnson of Tennessee (currently governor of Tennessee) for Vice President.

 

--Gen. Sherman strengthens his position on the Western and Atlantic railroad, but feels restrained by the vast resources he must expend to guard his ever-lengthening supply line.  Still smarting from large losses at the battles of Dallas, Ezra Church, and Pickett’s Mill, the Federals use maneuver and the weight of numbers to outflank the Rebels; in nearly every case, it has failed.

 

---Meanwhile, at Mount Sterling, Kentucky, far behind Union lines, Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate raiders captures the Union garrison there, and appropriate $18,000.00 from the local bank.



---Charles H. Lynch, of the 18th Connecticut Vol. Infantry, writes in his diary of the campaign in the Valley with Gen. Hunter, after the Battle of Piedmont:

 
June 8th. Again routed out early. Into line on the march through town to continue our work of destruction. Piling up ties, place the rails on top, set fire to the ties. When the rails become hot in the center, they warp or bend, making them useless. The march out of town, along the railroad, destroying it, makes very hard work for us, as we put in a long day, and not very much food. We manage to pick up some corn meal and a little flour, which we make into pan-cakes, called by the boys, ToeJam. Some of the boys received bruises and jams in the work on the railroad. There is much kicking over the hard work.

 
In camp tonight, talking over the events of the day, wondering what the morrow has in store for us. Many buildings and much property in town have been destroyed by fire, by order of General Hunter. Many of the women look sad and do much weeping over the destruction that is going on. We feel that the South brought on the war and the State of Virginia is paying dear for her part. The loss of our good boys brings us many sad hours. We cannot help think, and wonder who will be the next one to give his life for our country.

 

---In Georgia, as part of Sherman’s campaign to take Marietta on the way to Atlanta, Sergeant Alexander Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, writes in his journal:

Wednesday, 8th—We moved forward early this morning, marching twelve miles to the little town of Ackworth, where we went into camp. We are now with Sherman’s army, our corps being placed on the left in front of Atlanta. Our front is about twenty-five miles north of the city, while my division is back about ten miles farther. Sherman’s forces now number about one hundred and fifty thousand men and it is thought that the rebels under Johnston have seventy-five thousand. Our army, in the main, is lying still today, though there is some skirmishing in the front. The rebels have fallen back about ten miles. The health of our men is excellent; they are in fine spirits and anxious for a fight.

 
 
 

Friday, October 3, 2014

June 7, 1864


June 7, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 7:  At last, a truce is called between the two armies in order that burial teams may go out to bury the stench-ridden corpses from the last several days of fighting.  By this time, of course, most of the wounded who had lain there for four days were dead.  Northern newspapers will criticize Grant heavily for not making the truce sooner, but they are unaware that it was mostly Lee’s reticence that prevented an earlier truce.

 
Burying the dead at Cold Harbor, a year later

William P. Derby, of the 27th Massachusetts Infantry, describes part of what he saw:

Four days of sun and rain, with the severe heat of summer, had passed over our slain, and the air was laden with insufferable putrescence. We breathed it in every breath, tasted it in the food we ate and water we drank. What seemed intolerable to us, was doubly so to the enemy, from their nearness to the dead, and from the fact that the prevailing winds, wafting over the field, carried the fumes directly to them. The granting of the truce was a necessity rather than a virtue.
 

The ground was strewn with bloated and discolored forms, every feature so distorted that recognition from this source was impossible. . . . Now and then some poor wounded one was found, in all the horrors of a living death. For four long days and nights they had remained upon that field, with ghastly wounds, without food, water or care, and surrounded by remains exuding a stifling stench. Who can depict the terrible sufferings of those long, long hours of horror . . . ? Nature gave but few the endurance to bridge such an awful chasm, so that the work was chiefly with the dead.
 

Long trenches were dug, in which they were laid, side by side, with such winding-sheets as their blankets afforded. . . . The utmost haste failed to entomb the immense mass of our slain, before a signal-gun gave notice that the “truce had expired.” At the next gun the dogs of war would be let loose upon any remaining on the field, and hence our burial party hastily retired. A few moments later we were again engaged in the deadly fray. Those comrades participating in the burial were so overcome by the stench as to be unfit for duty for several days.


---Of the unauthorized meetings between soldiers of the two sides, Major Theodore Lyman, a staff officer serving with Gen. Meade, recounts this incident:

Some extraordinary scenes occurred during the armistice. Round one grave, where ten men were laid, there was a great crowd of both sides. The Rebels were anxious to know who would be next President. “Wall,” said one of our men, “I am in favor of Old Abe.” “He’s a damned Abolitionist!” promptly exclaimed a grey-back. Upon which our man hit his adversary between the eyes, and a general fisticuff ensued, only stopped by officers rushing in.

 


---Gen. Grant, seeing that Gen. Hunter and Crook, now combined in the Shenandoah Valley, has the potential to cross the Blue Ridge and capture Charlottesville, thus threatening Lee’s rear, decides on a comprehensive strategic shift.  He send Sheridan with two divisions of cavalry westward to strike at Charlottesville and the railroads that supply Lee’s army.  He also plans to shift the Army of the Potomac southward, from his left flank, to end run Lee’s men.  Lee’s response is predictable: first, he pulls Breckinridge’s division off the lines and sends him post-haste to the Valley to stem the Union tide there; he also sends two divisions of cavalry to chase Sheridan and keep him busy. 

 

June 6, 1864


June 6, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 6: Sporadic fighting continues along the lines, in spite of Meade having sent Maj. Theo. Lyman, of his staff, forward with a white flag to discuss a truce in order to bury the dead.  Both Meade and Lee are suspicious of the motives of the other.  Lee delays sending an answer for most of the day.  He and Grant both dither, fearful of the implications of the tradition that whoever asks for any kind of truce is conceding the field as the loser.  The only significant combat is when Jubal Early probes forward toward the Union lines, but is unable to deploy his troops in impassable swamps. 

June 5, 1864


June 5, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 5:  The stalemate continues, as both sides extend and strengthen their fortifications.  All day, messages are passed back and forth over the lines as the commanders of each army dickers with the other over the question of a truce to care for the wounded.

 
Union Army camps at Cold Harbor

---Shenandoah Valley:  Battle of Piedmont, Virginia---As Maj. Gen. David Hunter (replacing the hapless Franz Sigel) pushes south, up the Shenandoah Valley, he is opposed by very few Confederate troops.  There are only a small force of mostly cavalry under Brig. Gen. John Imboden and assorted odds and ends.  Gen. Lee orders Gen. Willliam “Grumble” Jones, near Lynchburg, to march to Imboden’s aid.  Grumble Jones was coming up from Lynchburg with over 4,000 men, assuming command of the aggregate (about 5,500 men), and decides to make a stand near Piedmont, as Hunter turns south from Port Republic and heads toward Staunton.  The Southerners are in good positions on a ridge, with Imboden’s dismounted cavalry holding the right flank at right angles to the main line, thus enabling crossfire against any advancing force.  Hunter sends forth Sullivan’s division of infantry against the Rebel left flank, and the attack falters.  The Rebels counterattack, and a realignment of their lines leaves a gap on the line.  Col. William Ely of the 18th Vermont spots the gap and acquires two howitzers to fire into it.  The Union line goes forward and the Confederates break.  At a crucial moment, while rallying his troops, Grumble Jones is shot through the head, dying instantly.  Brig. Gen. Vaughn takes command of the Rebels, and Imboden holds a line for a while to prevent the total destruction of the Rebel force.  As it is, Maj. Gen. Julius Stahel’s Union cavalry scoop up nearly 1,000 Confederates as prisoners.  The way to Staunton is now open.  Union Victory.   Losses:  Union, 780;  Confederate, 1,600.

 

June 4, 1864


June 4, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 4:  The fighting dies down into trench warfare, as it had at Spotsylvania, except that the soldiers on both sides had become much better at designing and building trench systems built to last.  Union troops are far forward of their supply trains, and so resort to using their hands and their bayonets to dig and build up earthworks. 

Because the attacks by snipers are deadly and constant on both sides, supplies have trouble moving up to the front lines.  The soldiers suffer terribly from thirst and hunger, and no relief from the filth of mud and dismembered bodies rotting in the sun.  The wounded suffer the most, since the armies cannot go forward to retrieve them. 
 
A highly idealized rendering of Cold Harbor

 

---Georgia:  From poor calculations, Gen. Mansfield Lovell tells his commander, Joseph Johnston, that the Federals under Sherman’s command have lost as many as 45,000 casualties since they launched the campaign into northern Georgia.  In fact, the figures come closer to only 10,000 Union casualties, but Johnston nevertheless becomes convinced that he is prevailing, and that he need only follow the same resist-and-fall-back delaying strategy to eventually stop Sherman.  As the Federals regain control of Allatoona and the railroad, thus securing their line of supply, the Confederates warily pull back about ten miles, with their backs up against Kennesaw Mountain, the most dominant eminence in the area, from whose peak one could easily see Atlanta.  Kennesaw is the key to everything: most of the roads of any consequence meet there, and the railroad curves around the mountain’s eastern shoulder.  Sherman sets his sights on Marietta, which lies beyond Kennesaw.  In the maneuvering of the two armies, small fights erupt at Big Shanty and Acworth.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

June 3, 1864


June 3, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 3:  General Ulysses S. Grant orders the grand attack to be made at 4:30 in the morning.  After an artillery barrage, the corps of Hancock and Wright went forward.  Smith’s XVIII Corps was not yet engaged.  Gen. Barlow’s division had the most success: even with heavy losses, they captured the first line of Confederate works.  Gen. Gibbon’s division, on his flank, was broken up by a patch of swampy ground that had to be skirted.  Two of Gibbon’s brigade commanders were killed, and his advance stalled.  Wright’s VI Corps made an attack that was tepid at best.  The incredible rate of rifle and cannon fire from the Confederate works was deadly.  By some reports, most of the 7,000 Federal casualties this day fell during the first 30 minutes of the attack. 
 
 
 
 
As Smith’s corps goes forward, their advance is broken up by several ravines which forced the lines into two or more vulnerable columns, which Rebel artillery fire cuts up rather badly.  One New Hampshire sergeant writes: "The men bent down as they pushed forward, as if trying, as they were, to breast a tempest, and the files of men went down like rows of blocks or bricks pushed over by striking against one another."  True to form, Gen. Warren’s V Corps does not go forward, and so Rebel artillery from his front also shreds Baldy Smith’s advancing columns.  Finally, Grant calls off the attacks. 
 

 
---The Richmond Daily Dispatch does an article on the famed American actor Edwin Booth, whose brothers Junius Booth, Jr., and John Wilkes Booth, were also well-known actors:
Edwin Boot[h] at the North.
–This young actor, a native of the State of Maryland, and whose engagements in the South previous to the war were attended with so much success, has lately been performing at the North for the benefits of the Sanitary Committee, When [t]old in Washington by a Southern lady a short time since that the people of the South would surely remember him in this matter, he repeated: “He did not care what they remembered? He knew no country but the Union.–no flag but the stars and stripes.” So much for Edwin Booth!
The Southern papers regularly excoriate people from the border states who show Northern loyalty.
 
 

---In Wilmington, North Carolina, now the South’s most productive port in feeding the Confederate war effort, the Daily Journal publishes this brief editorial which reflects the lack of news getting there from the confused and desperate fighting on the Overland Campaign, and the Federal army’s attempts to invest Richmond:
 

FOR some reason we are for two days without mails from Richmond, our latest letter or newspaper dates from that city not coming down later than Monday, the 30th ult.

 
The Road is not in possession of the enemy, for the telegraph line is working through, and the difficulty does not seem to be with the Wilmington and Weldon Road, the trains on which Road arrived both yesterday and the day before at their accustomed hour, although strangely enough, yesterday’s train brought no papers from Raleigh, a circumstance which can hardly be looked upon as a positive loss, since all our people turn anxiously for news from the battle-field and few take much interest in the political squabbles which seem to occupy so much of the attention of our cotemporaries at the State capital.
 
 
As the majority of Butler’s forces, having accomplished “one grand failure” on the south side of Richmond, are understood to have gone round to the York River, and to have joined Grant by that route, we may take it for granted that the body of Beauregard’s forces either have joined or will soon join Lee.  Some of the telegraphs mention Breckinridge in connection with the contests near Richmond.  This rather puzzles us, since we thought that Breckinridge was in the valley—he certainly was there at the last previous accounts.

 

(Source: The Civil War Day by Day, Wilson Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill -- http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/civilwar/index.php/2014/06/03/3-june-1964-a-circumstance-which-can-hardly-be-looked-upon-as-a-positive-loss/)

 

June 2, 1864


June 2, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 2:  Things begin badly today for the Union army, once again bedeviled by poor communications on the field and ambiguous command structure.  Grant ordered Meade to follow a now-common pattern: to hold with the V Corps (Warren) and move the II (Hancock) and the VI (Wright) to steal a flanking march on the Rebels.  The problem: they had never caught Lee flat-footed.  Hancock and Wright are ordered to march to Cold Harbor to participate in a morning attack.  In theory, the Union left, by then the strongest flank for the Army of the Potomac, would be ready for Meade to make an attack with 3 corps, numbering well over 30,000 men.  However, poor roads and disjointed staff work means that the march is slow and plagued with misdirection and the results of exhausted troops in constant contact with the enemy for nearly a month.  As Hancock withdraws from the line, Burnside—whose IX Corps’ right flank was covered by Hancock—is not even informed of the move. 


Lee is not fooled by the move, and sends Breckinridge’s fairly fresh division over to the Confederate left to reinforce Anderson’s First Corps.  Lee also detaches Mahone’s and Wilcox’s divisions from A.P. Hill (whose ill health still plagues him) to send over to join Breckinridge.  Lee’s new line is anchored on the two rivers, and therefore no longer has any vulnerable flank.  There is skirmishing all along the line throughout the evening, as the Confederates put the finishing touches on an amazingly intricate line, with converging fields of fire, flanking trenches, and enfilading lines. 

 

Hancock’s men, having marched all night, are in no condition or position to make a morning attack.  Gen. Grant agrees to delay the attack until 5:00 PM., and begins shifting his lines to prepare for this assault: Burnside and Warren form a new line to withstand increasing pressure from Early’s Second Corps.  Several Rebel attacks on Burnside’s and Warren’s lines yield several hundred Yankee prisoners for the attackers.  Finally, Grant agrees to a general attack the next morning, June 3.  A number of brigade and division commanders protest, having seen the ground in front of them, and the Southerners in their positions.  Several observers take notice of infantrymen who, being advised of the attack on the Confederate works in the morning, are writing their names and hometowns on slips of paper and sewing them to their jackets; they do not expect to survive the attack. 


 

June 1, 1984


June 1, 1864

 

Battle of Cold Harbor

Virginia

May 31-June 12, 1864

 

Day 1:  Fearful of Maj. Gen. William “Baldy” Smith and the Federal XVIII Corps being brought in to strike the Confederate right flank, Gen. Robert E. Lee has ordered Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson (commanding Longstreet’s First Corps) to send reinforcements to the right.  But due to confusion in the orders, Smith’s arrival is delayed.  The Old Cold Harbor crossroads is still being contested by cavalry from both sides, however, and as Anderson arrives, reinforced by Hoke’s fresh division, he is ordered to drive off the 6,000 or so blue cavalry under Sheridan and secure the crossroads.  Anderson makes a half-hearted affair out of it, sending only one brigade forward.  Hoke begins digging earthworks---and does not support the advance.  Anderson sends forward another advance, but it too falls back, as Federal infantry begins to arrive and file into line of battle.  Horatio G. Wright’s VI Corps arrives, and finally Baldy Smith’s XVIII Corps, and the Federals have amassed a menacing force.  (On the Federal right, Gen. G.K. Warren struggles to launch an ordered assault, but it never gains momentum.) 
 
 
June 1, afternoon
As Smith deploys on the Federal right, he launches an attack with two divisions at around 5:00PM.  The Yankees blast through the first line of Rebel fortifications, and push on, shattering and disorganizing the Southern troops fleeing.  Much of the fighting takes place on the old Mechanicsville and Gaines Mill battlefields.  Brigades led by Truex and Emory Upton (of Spotsylvania Mule Shoe fame) lead the breakthrough, but Gen. Russell, commanding Upton’s division, is slow to follow up, mostly due to the fact of Russell himself having  been wounded early in the attack.  But when Baldy Smith’s troops hit the second Rebel line, heavy rifle fire drives them back.  Soon after, Gen. Wright deploys two of his divisions, who also attack, and also shatter the Rebel first line.  But at the second line, a complex series of trenches, berms, abatis, and other obstructions to break up the attacking formations, and the Federal attack slows.  The attack nevertheless surges ahead, but is bedeviled by flanking fire of Confederates who are not engaged, and who begin to take interest in what is happening on the oblique of their front.  The attack slows, falters, and finally falls back.

 
The Federal attack, June 1, evening
 

---Atlanta Campaign: In a nick-of-time maneuver, Gen. George Stoneman, with most of Sherman’s cavalry, arrives at Allatoona Pass to secure it from multiple threats by Southern cavalry. 


Federal cavalry skirmishing, dismounted
 
---John Hunt Morgan, back in action in Kentucky, is one again raiding the Federal supply line there, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, in Tupelo, Mississippi as his base, prepares to strike north into Tennessee to disrupt that same supply line.  Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis is given a division of infantry, another of cavalry, and a battalion of artillery to use Memphis as a home base and advance against Forrest and Forrest’s base. 

 

Friday, August 8, 2014

May 31, 1864


May 31, 1864

 
---In Cleveland, the new Radical Democracy party nominates Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont for President, and John Cochrane as his running mate.


---Prelude to Cold Harbor:  Grant sends troops towards Cold Harbor, to seize the vital crossroads there.  His plan involves moving in a flanking maneuver to the left, Wright’s VI Corps taking the lead, followed by Baldy Smith’s newly arrived XVIII Corps.  Cavalry from both sides still hold the lines near Old Cold Harbor, as the infantry comes up and takes firm possession of Beulah Church and the Old Cold Harbor crossroads.  Skirmishing along this line intensifies.


---Sherman puts troops on the road to re-gain his supply line on the railroad.  He assigns this move to Gen. Stoneman and his cavalry.  He desires also to gain Allatoona Pass itself.  Sherman orders McPherson to pull his Army of the Tennessee out of line and to move east.

May 30, 1864


May 30, 1864



---Battle of Bethesda Church, Virginia:  Fighting continues along the Totopotomoy River.  Grant begins to look for ways to break the deadlock.  Gen. Lee is also looking for a break, and sends Jubal Early (now commanding Ewell’s Second Corps), in an assault on the Union left flank, where Gen. Warren’s V Corps has just taken up position on the south bank of the Totopotomoy.  Gen. Rodes’ division of graybacks plows into Crawford’s Federals, and a few new regiments panic and retreat before the onslaught.  Early’s choices are limited at this point, as Rodes’ column is disorganized from the attack, and reinforcements have not come up yet.  Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur, a new division commander, urges Early to let him attack—to which Early reluctantly agrees--but he does so without supports on either flank.  In the lull, Warren has strengthened his line.  As Ramseur advances at 6:30 PM, Toon’s brigade finds itself pinned down by flanking fire from the bluecoats, and so only Pegram’s brigade is in the advance.  As they dashed forward, the Federals open fire.  One Confederate officer writes, “Our line melted away as if by magic: every brigade, staff and field officer was cut down, mostly killed outright in an incredibly short time.”  Point-blank range rifle fire and artillery canister cut down the advancing Rebels.  The slaughter is so severe that a Union officer begs the survivors to surrender—and they do so in large numbers.  This disastrous attack results in 90% killed, wounded, and captured to Pegram’s brigade. 
Losses:          U.S. 731
                         C.S. 1,593

 
In the evening, orders to Gen. Butler’s Army of the James detach Maj. Gen. William “Baldy” Smith and two corps to move by boat to join Grant’s army.  Lee learns of this, and demands reinforcements from Beauregard’s tiny force at Richmond.


---Captain Augustus C. Brown, of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, writes in his journal of the fighting along the Topopotomoy that day as his regiment is sent in to fortify a line, and of this tragicomical incident:

Between our works and the house, which stood with its rear towards us, was a semi-circle of negro quarters, and in front of these little frame and log houses the artillerymen had backed up their caissons and ammunition wagons to conceal them as much as possible from the enemy. At the door of one of these cabins was a large pile of ashes, where the old “mammy” who lived there had emptied the contents of her stove for years, and as the men took out the ammunition from the chest on a limber, considerable powder was sprinkled on this dumping ground. Not long after the rebels had commenced firing, and after they had sent several rifled projectiles through the main house and its roof, and had split some of the great trees standing close by, the old darkey woman came to her door, cool as a cucumber, and apparently oblivious of the danger of her act, threw a shovel full of hot ashes and coals just out of her stove squarely under the limber, and instantly the front of that shanty was taken off as cleanly as if cut down by a monster hay-knife. Two men were killed and several wounded, but the negress is said to have escaped unhurt. A tremendous cheer at once rang out from the rebel line, the occupants of which no doubt supposed that the explosion of the limber chest had been caused by one of their shells.


---Kate Cummings, a Southern woman serving as a nurse in a Confederate Army hospital with the Army of Tennessee, writes in her journal of the lackluster service of the Georgia Militia (state troops) in guarding the hospital areas,, and thus addressing the hardcore States Rights politics of Gov. Joe Brown of Georgia, and his tendency to hold back men and material from the Confederacy:

There are many tales related of the Georgia militia. It seems that there was but one man in the whole place who could be prevailed on to go out as a scout. But the poor militia are constantly having some tales told on them. I think the governor is to blame for the contempt in which the Georgia militia are held. He holds to the doctrine of state rights with a greater tenacity than is at all needed at present. According to his views, Georgia had not only a right to secede in the beginning, but she can secede from the Confederacy any time she pleases. Many of the Georgians fairly worship both him and Stephens. I think that both have done our cause a vast deal of harm, at home and abroad. They have denounced the administration time and again, because it has not done exactly as they thought right. Whatever may be their views on that subject, I think they had better, for the present, keep them to themselves, as they will be productive of nothing but harm. If the present administration can not guide our affairs, why no one else can, and it is the duty of every man to give it his hearty support. “My country right, my country wrong, but still my country.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Never Fear! We Shall Renew the Fight!




My apologies to the folks who follow this blog.  It has been a hairy and busy summer for me, and I sort of fell out of practice and time.  However----

I hereby pledge that this blog will have caught up with the 150th Sesquicentennial calendar by the end of August---or sooner.  So bear with us.

I intend to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.

Wolfshield

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

May 29, 1864


May 29, 1864

 
---In Virginia, Grant’s Federals begin to deploy on the north bank of the Totopotomoy River, facing Lee’s lines.  Skirmishing escalates to general fighting all along the lines, as both armies extend their lines southeasterly.  Gen. Early leads his division in a direct assault, but is driven back with heavy casualties.
 

 

 

May 28, 1864


May 28, 1864

 
---Virginia:  Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, in a forced march, moves eastward in an effort to get in front of Grant’s army at Cold Harbor, where Lee correctly divines that Grant wants to go.  Cold Harbor is a crossroads important to Grant for approaching Richmond.  Lee decides to keep the Chickahominy River at his back, in order to deny to the Northern forces access to the crossings.

 

---Battle of Enon Church:  In an effort to learn of Grant’s intentions, Lee orders two cavalry brigades under his son Fitzhugh Lee and Wade Hampton to probe the Federal positions.  As they do so, Federal cavalry discover them, and organie a charge.  The Rebels dismount and form a line, repelling the charges, again and again.  Finally, an additional division in blue is brought up, and Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his brigade of Michigan regiments makes an attack dismounted, and they overrun the Rebel lines.  The graycoats withdraw and mount up, leaving the Federals exhausted, but victorious.

 

---Battle of Dallas:  In northern Georgia, sporadic fighting continues all along the lines.  Gen. Hood is ordered to attack the Yankees’ left flank, which is reaching farther to the east—but Hood finds the Yankee fortifications there too firm for an assault.

 

---George Templeton Strong, of New York City, notes with alarm the impact of the war news on trade and the market:

. . . Gold reached 189 today!  We are in a bad way, unless Grant or Sherman soon win a decisive victory.  But I see no symptoms yet of debility in the backbones of loyal and patriotic men, or, in other words, of the community minus Peace Democrats, McClellan-maniacs, mere traders and capitalists, and the brutal herd of ignorant Celts and profligate bullies and gamblers and “sporting men” that have so large a share in the government of our cities. 

May 27, 1864


May 27, 1864

 

---The Army of the Potomac moves swiftly south to the crossings over the Pamunkey near Hanovertown.  Sheridan’s cavalry arrive first, and pontoon bridges are laid down over the Pamunkey River is short order.  They occupy Hanovertown on the south bank, and later in the day, the infantry formation of the Army of the Potomac file across the bridges. 

 

---In Cleveland, the Radical Republicans, those opposed to Lincoln, begin a convention to nominate another team to oppose Lincoln for the elections.  The convention decides to label this movement The Radical Democracy.

 


---Atlanta Campaign: Battle of Picketts Mill – Sherman orders Gen. Thomas of the Army of the Cumberland to send Gen. Oliver O. Howard’s IV Corps forward to strike the Rebels at the right flank of their line at Pickett’s Mill.  Brig. Gen. William B. Hazen’s brigade bears the brunt of the attack, as they sweep forward to find that the position is already strongly fortified.  Also, the promised reinforcements do not show, and 1,500 Federals are shot down in a very short amount of time.  Many officers blame Howard for poor planning.  Confederate Victory.

May 26, 1864


May 26, 1864

 

Battle of the North Anna River

 

May 23-26, 1864

 

Day 4:  Seeing that there are no opportunities to turn Lee’s line, Gen. Grant decides to keep up the skirmishing, and then move his army by night to the east and south, around Lee’s right flank.  To deceive the enemy, Grant sends Brig. Gen. James Wilson and his cavalry off heading straight west, to make Lee think that the flanking movement will be in the opposite direction.  Wilson destroys large portions of the Virginia Central railroad, and key supply link for Richmond, but fails to draw Lee after him.  After dark, the units of the Army of the Potomac begin to pull out of line, and head east and south to the crossings over the Pamunkey River near Hanovertown.  Warren and Wright pull out first, while Hancock and Burnside hold.  Confederate Victory.

 

Losses:

Union                 2,623

Confederate    1,552

 


---Battle of New Hope Church, Georgia (cont.):  The fighting along Johnston’s hastily-constructed line continues, but degrades into mere skirmishing as the Federals begin to entrench to protect their own lines.

May 25, 1864


May 25, 1864

 

Battle of the North Anna River

 
May 23-26, 1864

 

Day 3:  Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren pushes his V Corps into line to test A.P. Hill’s Third Corps lines, but finds them substantial, and chooses not to escalate his probing attacks.  Then, Gen. Wright brings up his VI Corps on Warren’s right, in order to try to flank the Confederate lines.  But Wright finds that Hill’s left is anchored on the Little River, and in order to flank him, the Federals need to cross it.  But the fords are heavily guarded by the Southern cavalry in force, and Wright can find no opportunities to cross.  The fighting on this day devolves into light skirmishing.

 


---Atlanta Campaign---Battle of New Hope Church:  Gen. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee halts at New Hope Church, forming a line with Hood in the center, Polk on the left, and Hardee on the right.  Gen. Hooker’s bluecoats (XX Corps) strike the Confederate line in the center, and loses heavily against well-positioned artillery and the Rebel infantry who have an unobstructed field of fire.  Hooker disengages and pull back.  Some Union soldiers describe it as some of the most intense musketry of the war.

Sherman tries to turn Johnston's left flank.