Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 15, 1864

May 15, 1864

---Battle of New Market, Virginia:  In the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, back in command, leads a small army of 10,000 men up the Shenandoah Valley, intending to link up with another force making its way over the mountains from West Virginia.  Sigel has a division of infantry under Gen. Sullivan and a division of cavalry under Gen. Julius Stahel.  Facing him, at first, is only John S. Mosby’s partisan rangers, who are wreaking chaos along the Federal supply line, but also a thin brigade of troopers under John Imboden.  Soon, Gen. John C. Breckinridge is sent to cobble together a force of just over 4,000 men---two brigades of infantry under Echols and Wharton, and the small cavalry brigade under John Imboden.  Also present are the 247 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute, who also bring two cannons.  By the day of the battle, Sigel’s force had shrunk to 6,275, due to detaching units to garrison and guard key points in the Valley as the Federals advanced.  Sigel takes up position just north of New Market. 
Breckinridge decides to attack first, so he marches his men from 8 miles south of New Market northward.  The artillery of both sides engages in a duel while Breckinridge places his troops, and finally the Southern line moves forward, around 2:000 PM.  As they advanced, the Federal artillery creates havoc in the Confederate center, scattering a couple of regiments temporarily.  Breckinridge orders the VMI cadets forward, who advance in disciplined fashion, and ably blend into the line to fill the gap.  Lt. Col. Shipp, the commander, goes down with a wound, and so the Cadets are led by Cadet Captain Henry A. Wise as the Rebels continue to advance.  Imboden’s cavalry momentarily flanks the Union line, and the unsteadiness of the Union line encourages the Rebels to push on.  Renewed artillery action from the Federals brings the Rebel line to a halt.  Encouraged in turn, the Federals dash forward in a charge, but meet the Rebels once again, advancing and firing as they come.  The Federals lose heart and stability, and flee the field.  Even the VMI Cadets charge, through a muddy field, where many of them lose their shoes.  They capture part of a Yankee battery, as Sigel’s army retreats in disarray.  Confederate Victory.

Losses:     Killed     Wounded     Capt/Missing   Total

U.S.             96               520                220                       836

C.S.              43               474                3                            520


---Battle of Spotsylvania, Day 8:  Today, the blue-coated troops of Warren’s corps, intended to hit the Rebels on the right flank, are still moving, and therefore not ready, due to the heavy rains and quagmire roads.  There is skirmishing mostly at Piney Branch Church, constant combat, but Grant understands that he can do little until the rains let up.

A strangely incongruous rendition of the Battle of Resaca--or so we are told.

---Atlanta Campaign—Battle of Resaca, Georgia, Day 3:  On this day, Sherman orders Thomas to attack the Rebel right, under John Bell Hood.  Schofield, Hooker, and divisions from the Army of the Cumberland strike at the Confederate positions, with some success.  But Johnston loses his interest in this fight when he learns that he has been flanked by Sweeney and other Union troops via the new pontoon bridge over the Oostanaula River.  The Rebels decamp and head south.  The battle is essentially a draw, although Sherman is able to force Johnston to withdraw, and Johnston beat off every attack by the Federals.  Draw.
Civil War Trust
Used by permission.


Losses:  U.S.    4,000                 C.S.            2,800

---Col. Walter Taylor, Gen. Lee’s own adjutant, writes home to his wife about the fighting at Spotsylvania:

. . . After we were established here, the enemy attacked every portion of our lines at different times, and with the one exception mentioned, were invariably hansomely repulsed & severely punished. The 12th was an unfortunate day for us – we recovered most of the ground lost but cd not regain our guns. This hurts our pride – but we are determined to make our next success all the greater to make amends for this disaster. Our men are in good heart & condition – our confidence, certainly mine, unimpaired. Grant is beating his head against a wall. His own people confess a loss of 50,000 thus far. He is moving tonight – we expect a renewal of the battle tomorrow. God has been good & kind, & has miraculously preserved me. Asking a continuance of his blessings & mercy & committing you, my precious one, to His Protective care, I remain yours as ever


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