Battle of Cold Harbor Facts

Battle of Cold Harbor Facts
The Battle of Cold Harbor was one of the most important battles in the later stages of the American Civil War in the Eastern Theater of operations. Fought in central Virginia from May 31 to June 12, 1864, the battle was part of Union general Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign, which was intended to take the Confederate capital of Richmond. Although severely outnumbered, Lee and the Confederates created a series of fortifications about ten miles outside Richmond, which allowed them to hold the road to the capital and win a convincing victory over the Union Army. The Overland Campaign in general and the Battle of Cold Harbor specifically represented a shift in the war from more strategic battles to costly battles of attrition.
Interesting Battle of Cold Harbor Facts:
General Grant commanded the Army of the Potomac, while General Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia.
The battle began when Union Major General Philip Sheridan's cavalry corps captured the crossroads known as Cold Harbor on May 31.
During June 1 and 2, both sides dug in, creating a seven mile defensive line.
Approximately 109,000 Union soldiers faced off against about 59,000 Confederates.
Cold Harbor was named for a tavern at the crossroads and was located nowhere near a water harbor.
The nearest town was Mechanicsville, Virginia, located just behind the Confederate lines.
The Battle of Cold Harbor is sometimes referred to the Second Battle of Cold Harbor: the Battle of Gaine's Mill, fought on June 27, 1862 is considered by some to be the First Battle of Cold Harbor.
General Lee spent the first couple days of the battle fighting a serious case of diarrhea.
On June 2, Union generals Grant and Meade planned to attack Lee's left flank, but delays allowed the Confederates to build better defenses, which made a successful flanking attack impossible.
Although the Union troops were tired and hungry, General Grant believed that the Confederates were more so and ordered a frontal attack on June 3, writing: "A battle with them outside of intrenchments cannot be had. Our men feel that they have gained the morale over the enemy an attack with confidence."
Hundreds of Union soldiers pinned slips of paper with their names and address on the inside of their uniforms so they could be identified after the June 3 assault.
Only the Union general Hancock's 2nd Corps was able to breach the first line of trenches on June 3.
During the June 3 assault alone, Union forces suffered 7,000 casualties and the Confederates 1,500
Grant said after the June 3 assault: "I regret this assault more than any one I have ever ordered."
Grant ordered no more assaults on the Confederate positions, but stayed until June 12 with sharp shooters and artillery doing most of the shooting.
The total casualty count of the battle was nearly 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing for the Union and almost 7,000 for the Confederates.
The Battle of Cold Harbor was the last major victory Lee recorded during the war.


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