Battle of Cold Harbor

Overland Campaign / Ulysses S Grant

The Battle of Cold Harbor took place from May 31 to June 12, 1864 with the heaviest fighting taking place on June 3.

It was one of the most lopsided battles of the American Civil War as the Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant launched a futile frontal assault on entrenched Confederate positions and took great losses.

Not War But MurderThe Hogs of Cold HarborCold Harbor

General Robert E Lee was a master of defensive warfare and though severely outnumbered, his men fought tenaciously and won the battle for the south.

The assaults marked the end of Grant’s Overland Campaign that was designed to launch simultaneous attacks against Confederate forces. The north had seemingly inexhaustible resources while the south was limited in manpower, weapons and supplies.

This pressure would force the Confederates to continue fighting, and this war of attrition would be one that they could not win.

The Battle

About 10 miles northeast of the Confederate capitol of Richmond, VA. Grant used his cavalry to attack Lee’s right flank and was successful in capturing the crossroads at Old Cold Harbor. The ground was successfully held until the Union infantry could arrive and they now held a strong strategic point on the battlefield.

Both armies continued to arrive on the scene and the Confederates built fortifications extending 7 miles long. On June 3, the Union army tested both the northern and southern ends of the fortifications and each time were repulsed with heavy casualties.

By the time the dust and smoke settled, close to 13,000 Union soldiers were casualties against 4,600 Confederate casualties. Grant did show some regret for the incredible cost of human life, yet knew this war of attrition against the Confederates would eventually succeed.

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