The Pause in the Operations – Lee Misreads Grant

June 9, 1864 (Thursday) “The indications are that Grant, despairing of a direct attack, is now seeking to embarrass you by flank movements,” wrote Jefferson Davis to General Lee on this date. The day previous, Davis had joined Lee at the front, together observing the lines of the enemy. When he returned to Richmond, heRead More

Lincoln Nominated for Second Term – Hamlin Hung Out to Dry

June 8, 1864 (Wednesday) It had become almost common knowledge, at least among aficionados of the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln was nominated by the Republican Party to run as an incumbent in the coming presidential election. According to John Hay, Lincoln’s personal secretary, “death alone could have prevented the choice of Mr. Lincoln byRead More

All the Horrors of a Living Dead – The Truce at Cold Harbor

June 7, 1864 (Tuesday) It had taken two days, but finally a truce to care for the wounded and bury the dead was approved by General Lee. Four days had passed since the last major fighting, and it remained doubtful if any were still alive. They were allowed only two hours for the task, beginningRead More

‘Wounded Men are Now Suffering’ – Grant and Lee Argue about a Truce

June 6, 1864 (Monday) Cold Harbor had become yet another stalemate. General Grant could no longer throw men against Lee’s entrenchments. It resulted in nothing but death, gaining not an inch. But also, he realized that it was “not practical to hold a line northeast of Richmond,” as he told Chief of Staff Henry HalleckRead More

Splinters Amid Great Slaughter – War Returns to the Shenandoah Valley

June 5, 1864 (Sunday) “To aid the expedition under General Hunter,” wrote Grant on June 3 to his corps commanders, “it is necessary that we should detain all the army now with Lee until the former gets well on his way to Lynchburg. To do this effectually it will be better to keep the enemyRead More

Johnston and Sherman Slide East

June 4, 1864 (Saturday) “Today the enemy is moving his forces from his right to his left,” wrote Confederate General Joe Johnston on the 1st. “We are making a corresponding movement to our right.” When last we left the Western theater, William Tecumseh Sherman was trying to re-establish his link with the railroad east ofRead More

Under the Blessing of God – Simply Slaughered at Cold Harbor

June 3, 1864 (Friday) ‘Before sunrise on the morning of the 3rd a few shots were fired by our pickets, and our videttes on the parapet called out, “Look out, they are coming.”‘ But in the predawn, there was first a cannonade. Scores upon scores of pieces bursting shot and shell above their enemies. ThereRead More

The Shifting of Grant and Lee to Cold Harbor

June 2, 1864 (Thursday) The night previous, General Grant had called upon Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps to march through the dark, leaving their lines on the Union right to join the proposed attack from the Union left. Hancock was to take up positions on the extreme left. But the march was grueling, and theRead More

‘A Sheet of Flame, Sudden as Lightening, Red as Blood’ – Cold Harbor

June 1, 1864 (Wednesday) We last left the two armies in more or less of a stalemate along Totopotomoy Creek, fifteen miles northeast of Richmond. It was on May 30th that elements of Lee’s and Grant’s cavalry clashed at Old Cold Harbor. Lee was fearful that the newly-arrived Eighteenth Corps under “Baldy” Smith would slipRead More

‘But Act Boldly and Promptly’ – Sherman Attempts to Regain the Railroad

May 31, 1864 (Tuesday) Though there had been skirmishing and even heavier battle over the past several days, William Tecumseh Sherman’s men had spent most of their time digging deeper into the rich Georgia soil. The general, himself, however, was looking for a way out. His three armies had wished to hold closer to theRead More