Cold Harbor

General Grant continued his overland push toward Richmond after Spotsylvania. He engaged Lee’s forces again at the crossroads of Cold Harbor and a battle ensued between May 31 and June 12, 1864, with the most important action on June 3. The battle line there stretched around seven miles with opposing forces entrenched on either side. The Union soldiers repeatedly assaulted the Confederate lines; progress was minimal and losses were tremendous.

Grant at Cold Harbor

Union losses were estimated at 13,000 and Confederate losses, 2,500. Congressmen and newspaper editors in the North questioned Grant’s performance.

Union soldiers fighting for Grant recognized that their prospects for survival were not good. In the days before dogtags, soldiers wrote their names and hometowns on pieces of paper that were pinned to their uniforms prior to battle.

Grant later acknowledged that his losses at Cold Harbor were far in excess of any military gain. General Lee was performing superbly by executing a defensive strategy with occasional surprise attacks. Grant reconsidered his options and turned his army south, bypassing Richmond.

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