Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 19, 1864

May 19, 1864


---Battle of Spotsylvania, Day 11—Harris Farm:  Instead of launching his new flank march by the left, Grant is faced with a move by Lee taking the initiative: Lee suspects that Grant’s right flank may not be secure, and so order Ewell, with two of his divisions (Rodes and Gordon), to march up the Brock Road, and then to turn east and hopefully find the Federal flank in the air, and crush it:  the result would be that Grant would be cut off from his line of communication and Washington.  Ewell’s force runs into a division of “heavies”: the Heavy Artillery regiments that were converted to infantry, and who were green troops.  Fighting ensues, but the Heavies hold until more veteran infantry comes up, including Gen. Birney’s division.  The fighting continues until nearly 9:00 PM, and Lee decides not to risk the matter any further, and so orders Ewell to withdraw.  As he does so, he loses a number of troops in the dark.  Ewell loses over 900 men to no avail.

Rebel dead from the fight at Harris Farm

---The Red River Campaign is officially over as the bulk of Banks’ troops cross the Atchafalaya Bayou on a make shift bridge made on steamboats.

---Atlanta Campaign:  Johnston’s plan at Cassville to waylay Sherman’s easternmost column fails as Gen. Hood, whose corps is to spring the trap, fails to be in the right place at the right time, having been distracted with what Hood thought was a threat on his flank.  The Confederates retreat across the Etowah River, and do not contest the Federals’ crossing.


---A Democrat newspaper in Seneca County, New York, publishes an editorial typically critical of the way the Lincoln government is waging war, and especially with Gen. Grant’s lack of more tangible success:

The advance of our armies towards the Confederate capital is resisted with a stubbornness and determination wholly unexpected. After ten days contest, the most sanguinary and bloody of the whole war, hostilities cease, with both armies occupying precisely the same grounds they did at the commencement of the battle. GRANT with all his superior forces fought Lee ten days at Spottsylvania Court House, without driving him from his first line of entrenchments. A perusal of the details show the fighting to have been of the most desperate character. The result of the contest up to Wednesday night of last week was wholly adverse to our armies. On Thursday HANCOCK gained, or seemed to, at least, a decided advantage over the enemy, but the advantage was not followed up and the rebels recovered the lost ground. On Friday the struggle was more determined and bloody on both sides than on any other of the preceding days, at the close of which hostilities ceased with no advantage gained on either side. To all intents and purposes, then, GRANT’s first campaign may be considered a failure. – SIGEL in the Shenandoah Valley, with a large force, intending to co-operate with GRANT in the capture of the rebel capital, has been repulsed by BRECKINRIDGE with a heavy loss of men and guns. BUTLER down on the James river is held in check by BEAUREGARD. A severe fight occurred at Paltas creek [Proctor's Creek?] on Monday between the forces under these two generals, but, according to the telegraph, without any decisive result.

---Louis Leon, a soldier in the 53rd North Carolina Infantry, writes in his diary of the heavy losses in his regiment so far at Spotsylvania:

May 19—Saw Darnell, of my company, to-day. He was just from the front. He brings us very bad news. Our General Daniels was killed, which is certainly a great loss to us, for he was a good and brave man, also our major of the 53d, Iredell, and my captain, White, all killed. Colonel Owens, my colonel, was mortally wounded, and quite a number of my company were killed and wounded. He says there is only seven of our company left, and that our Lieutenant-Colonel Morehead is commanding Daniels’ Brigade.

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