Tuesday, September 30, 2014

June 1, 1984

June 1, 1864


Battle of Cold Harbor


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. 


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