Lsn 18 Grant's Overland Campaign

Grant’s Overland Campaign
Lsn 25
The Virginia Campaign
Hanover Junction
Cold Harbor
– 10 month siege
– Sheridan defeats Early in the
Shenandoah Valley and joins
• Five Forks
– Lee tries to break out to join
Johnston in North Carolina
• Appomattox
Execution of Grant’s Grand
• Meade, Sherman, Butler, and
Sigel all began operations in
May 1864
– Sigel was defeated at the
Battle of New Market on
May 15
– Butler landed on the
peninsula and was quickly
cut off by the Confederates
• Both supporting efforts
• Banks gets distracted with the
Red River Campaign and does
not attack Mobile
Meade in Virginia
• Grant had not met Meade
before coming east, but
Grant develops a positive
opinion of him
• Nonetheless, Grant dto
closely supervise the
Army of the Potomac and
accompany it in the field
• On May 4, the Army of
the Potomac crossed the
Rapidan River into the
– The same area that
Chancellorsville had been
fought almost a year before
The Wilderness
• A tangled second growth of
stunted pines, vines,
creepers, and scrub brush
• The few roads often led
nowhere and were
inaccurately mapped
• Ground broken by irregular
ridges and hills
• And crisscrossed by
numerous streams and
• Bruce Catton called the
Wilderness “the last place
on earth for armies to fight”
The Wilderness
• However the Wilderness was exactly the type of terrain
Lee would need to offset his numerical inferiority
– Lee had just 64,000 men to Grant’s 119,000
– One Federal general figured that in more hospitable
terrain Grant could have covered a front of 21 miles,
two ranks deep with 1/3 of its strength in reserve
whereas Lee could only cover 12 miles
– Grant had 274 artillery pieces manned by 9,945
artillerymen while Lee only had 224 guns and some
4,800 artillerymen
– Grant had 11,839 cavalrymen compared to Lee’s
– The restrictive terrain would not allow Grant to deploy
his artillery or cavalry to full effect
The Wilderness
• Grant hoped to turn
Lee’s right flank and
force him to retreat
• Instead Lee attacked
two of Grant’s corps
as they struggled
through the narrow
lanes of the
• In two days of violent
fighting Grant suffered
nearly 17,000
casualties to Lee’s
The Wilderness
• Grant brought a new attitude to the Army of the
– One general told him, “General Grant, this is a crisis
that cannot be looked upon too seriously. I know
Lee’s methods well by past experience; he will throw
his whole army between us and the Rapidan, and cut
us off completely from our communications.”
– Grant replied, “Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing what
Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think
he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault and
land in or rear and on both our flanks at the same
time. Go back to our command and try to think what
we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is
going to do.”
The Wilderness
• At the Wilderness,
Lee defeated Grant,
but, instead of
retreating as
McClellan, Burnside,
and Hooker had
done, Grant kept
moving south to
Spotsylvania to try to
get around Lee’s
flank and get
between Lee and
• When Grant disengaged Lee had to
determine exactly what Grant would do
– Using terrain analysis, intelligence reports,
and analysis, Lee announced, “Grant is not
going to retreat. He will move his army to
• After the Wilderness, Lee
knows Grant has two basic
choices: to retreat or to
– Lee had reports that the Federals
had abandoned their right flank
positions and were dismantling
their pontoon bridges at
– From this information he
concluded that Grant was
severing his line of
communication via Germanna and
therefore would not be retreating
back across the Rapidan River
– Thus he concluded Grant would
not retreat
Pontoon crossing
at Germanna Ford
• If Grant was not going to retreat he had two
possible lines of advance: eastward toward
Fredericksburg or southeastward toward
Spotsylvania Courthouse
Spotsylvania Courthouse
• Lee determined the Spotsylvania advance was
the more likely of the two
– The Spotsylvania road to Richmond was half as long
as the Fredericksburg one
– Spotsylvania was key terrain for anyone desiring to
control Hanover Junction, site of two railroads Grant
would need if he wanted to force Lee back to
Richmond by cutting off his supplies
• Based on this analysis Lee started hedging his
bets toward Spotsylvania and began cutting a
road in that direction
• Lee’s suspicion was confirmed when he
received a report of Federal heavy artillery
beginning to be moved from its reserve position
south down the Brock Road toward Spotsylvania
• Lee now was sure Grant was headed for
Spotsylvania and he began moving troops down
his newly cut road on an inner line from the one
Grant is using
• Lee won the race to Spotsylvania and prepared
• For 12 days the two armies fought
inconclusively north and east of
– Lee remained behind his strong defenses
which Grant cannot breach
• There was one sign of
encouragement for Grant on May 10
when Emory Upton tried a new tactic
of advancing in column formation
without pausing to fire en route
– Upton achieved a temporary break in the
Confederate line but when he received no
reinforcements, he was forced to withdraw
After the Civil War,
Upton will write several
tactical manuals for the
• On May 12, Grant
launched a corps-size
version of Upton’s tactic
against a salient known as
the “Mule Shoe”
– Upton’s charge was
successful and captures
4,000 Confederates
– Lee launched a desperate
counterattack and was able
to build a new line of
trenches across the base of
the Mule Shoe
• The Confederates
withdraw but Grant was
determined to continue
his offensive
– He had written Halleck, “I
propose to fight it out on
this line [Spotsylvania] if it
takes all summer.”
– However the failure of
Butler and Sigel’s
supporting attacks have
given Lee 8,500
– Grant decided to try to slip
by Lee’s right flank and
continue moving southward
Butler is “bottled up” in
the Bermuda Hundred
Hanover Junction (North Anna)
• Grant said, “My chief
anxiety is to draw Lee
out of his works.”
• Lee refused to take
Grant’s bait and be
drawn out into the open
• Instead he withdrew to
Hanover Junction, the
crossroads of the
Virginia Central and the
Fredericksburg &
Potomac railroads to
protect the rail links to
the Shenandoah Valley
Hanover Junction 1863
Hanover Junction (North Anna)
• Grant assumed Lee’s refusal to
give battle as a sign of weakness
and on May 23 he advanced
toward Hanover Junction,
expecting little resistance until he
neared Richmond some 25 miles
further south
• In reality, Lee had prepared a
strong five-mile defense laid out
in an inverted “V” shape and
making good use of the steep
banks of the North Anna and
Little Rivers
– The apex of the inverted “V”
was at Ox Ford, the only
defensible river crossing in
the area
– The terrain would prevent
Grant from directly supporting
one side of his army with the
Hanover Junction (North Anna)
• Grant attacked on May 24 and
eventually realized his army was
divided and that Lee had both
strong defenses and the
maneuver advantage
– Lee had Grant in a vulnerable
position but was unable to achieve
proper execution of his plan
– A.P. Hill launched a series of
piecemeal attacks which caused
Lee to complain, “Why did you not
do as Jackson would have done,
thrown your whole force upon those
people and driven them back?"
• The two armies disengaged and
continued south to Cold Harbor
Cold Harbor
• By this time both sides, especially the
Confederates, had become expert at
– “it is a rule that when the Rebels halt, the first day
gives them a good rifle-pit; the second, a regular
infantry parapet with artillery in position; and the third
a parapet with abatis in front and entrenched batteries
behind. Sometimes they put this three days’ work
into the first twenty-four hours.”
• A Federal officer
• Such entrenchments would give an enormous
advantage to the defenders as Cold Harbor
would demonstrate
Cold Harbor
• Cold Harbor was fought
over the same ground as
the Seven Days’ Battles
• It gets its name not from
being a port but from an
old hotel that provided
harbor (shelter) but no
hot food
• Cold Harbor was a
crossroads town about
10 miles northeast of
Burnett’s Inn at Cold Harbor
Cold Harbor
• On June 3 Grant
launched a frontal
assault on Lee’s
• The attacks were little
more than a
succession of
charges made at
different points along
the Confederate line
– Most failed within
Cold Harbor
• Grant lost some 13,000
compared to just 2,500 for
– “I have always regretted that
the last assault at Cold
Harbor was ever made. I
might say the same thing of
the assault of the 22d of
May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At
Cold Harbor no advantage
whatever was gained to
compensate for the heavy
loss we sustained.”
• Grant, Memoirs
• Grant now had no further
prospects of breaking through
to Richmond
– He had simply run out of
maneuver room and Lee’s
defenses were too strong
• Instead Grant decided to shift
his army south of the James
River, use the river as his line
of supply, and try to get to
– Petersburg was about 20 miles
south of Richmond
– Through it passed most of the
supplies bound for Richmond and
Lee’s army
• Grant got a jump on Lee
and crossed the James
between June 12 and 16
• He almost was able to
seize Petersburg without
a fight, but Lee barely
managed to beat Grant
to Petersburg and
occupy the fortifications
already in place
• A ten-month siege
• Grant built up a huge
logistical base at City
• City Point gave Grant
outstanding rail and
which kept his force
• As Lee weakened in
Petersburg, Grant
grew stronger
• While Grant occupied Lee
at Petersburg, Sherman
was advancing on Atlanta
• The North held potentially
decisive military
positions, but the current
stalemate was not
helping Lincoln in the
upcoming presidential
• Many Northerners began
agitating for a negotiated
settlement to the war and
George McClellan was
campaigning against
Lincoln on a peace
• On July 30, Federal
soldiers detonated four
tons of black powder in a
mine they had dug under
the Confederate position
• The explosion created a
175-foot long, 60-foot
wide, and 30-foot deep
• For at least 600 feet on
either side of the crater
the Confederate line had
been reduced to havoc
• However this initial
Federal advantage of
surprise gave way to
mismanagement and
delay and the
• Now the Federals were
largely trapped in the
• The Federals lost
about 5,300 and the
Confederates 1,032
Five Forks
• As the siege continued,
Grant kept extending
his lines to the west
• He was never able to
get around Lee but he
forced Lee to stretch his
lines to the breaking
• In March 1865 Phil
Sheridan with most of
his cavalry joined Grant
from the Shenandoah
• Grant gave Sheridan an
infantry corps and told
him to break Lee’s
western flank
Five Forks
• At the Battle of Five Forks
on April 1, Sheridan
succeeded in doing so
• Grant then ordered a
general attack all along
the Petersburg front
• Lee was forced to
abandon Petersburg and
the city fell on April 3
• Federal troops entered
Richmond the next day
Sheridan’s charge at Five Forks
• Lee’s only alternative was to
try to get his 50,00 man
army into central North
Carolina to join with
Johnston’s 20,000 in
opposing Sherman’s
advance north from
• Grant anticipated this and
used his cavalry to prevent
Lee from turning south and
instead forced Lee to the
• Lee hoped to reach a supply
dump at Lynchburg but on
April 6, Federal cavalry
caught up with Lee’s rear
guard and destroyed it
• On April 8, Sheridan
got ahead of Lee
and cut off the
Confederate retreat
• On April 9, Lee
requested a
conference with
Grant and the two
met at Appomattox
Court House where
Lee surrendered the
Army of Northern
Surrender at Appomattox by Tom Lovell
• Lincoln was assassinated
on April 14
• Joe Johnston surrendered
to Sherman on April 26
• Jefferson Davis was
captured near Irwinville,
Georgia on May 10
• Richard Taylor
surrendered most of the
remaining troops east of
the Mississippi on May 4
• Kirby Smith surrendered
the trans-Mississippi
Department on May 26
John Wilkes Booth
assassinated President Lincoln
in Ford’s Theater
• Final Exam Review