May 11, 1864
Battle of Spotsylvania
May 8-21, 1864
Day 4: Light fighting ranges along the two armies’ line throughout this day. Gen. Lee suspects that Grant is planning another flanking maneuver---this time on Lee’s right---and so he withdraws his artillery from his left and from the Mule Shoe in the center, to send to the right. Grant does order Hancock to counter-march, but only as far as the center, to prepare for a grand assault on the Mule Shoe salient, this time with a whole corps, and Burnside applying pressure to the east side of the salient.
---Battle of Yellow Tavern, Virginia: In one of the significant cavalry battles of the war, Sheridan’s cavalry corps approaches this place and finds J.E.B. Stuart’s troopers there, blocking the road to Richmond. Sheridan has already captured most of Lee’s wagon train and destroyed it, thus putting the Army of Northern Virginia at great risk for lack of supplies. Sheridan pushed southward at a speed the Rebels were not used to. Stuart tries to block him from crossing the North Anna River, and fails---and then rides hard to hopefully intercept him before he crosses the Chickahominy, just north of Richmond. Stuart has with him only three brigades (under Fitz Lee, Gordon, and Lomax), about 4,500 men, while Sheridan has over 10,000, in three divisions. On this date, Stuart arrives here before the Yankees do, and deploys his men. Federal Gen. Wesley Merritt arrives with his division of blue troopers, dismounts his men, and advances on foot. The Federals bash in Lomax’s line, and capture 200 Rebels. Lomax falls back on Fitz Lee’s line. Stuart sends back to Richmond for reinforcements, and is told that two brigades of infantry are on their way. Sheridan then orders a sabre charge on the Confederates, led by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer and his brigade of Michigander regiments---his “wolverines.” Custer’s men smash into Stuart’s artillery, and the Confederate line begins to fray noticeably. As the Federals capture the guns, Stuart counterattacks with the only troops nearby: K Troop of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, his old regiment. But Stuart is shot in the engagement, and his men take him back to seek medical attention. Mortally wounded, Stuart is borne back by ambulance. Union Victory.
---Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, writes to Maj. Gen. Dix and reveals Grant’s state plan to keep the pressure on Lee:
WAR DEPARTMENT, May 11, 1864-11.30 p. m.
Dispatches from General Grant, dated at 8 o'clock this morning, have just reached this Department. He says: "We have now ended the sixth day of very heavy fighting. The result to this time is much in our favor. Our losses have been heavy as well as those of the enemy. I think the loss of the enemy must be greater. We have taken over 5,000 prisoners in battle, whilst he has taken from us but few, except stragglers. I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." The Government is sparing no pains to support him.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War