BATTLE OF COLD HARBOR
When people tend to talk of the key figures of the American Civil War, it is rarely without mention of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The two military leaders were the heads of both sides of the conflict in the nineteenth century, and in May of 1864, the two would lead opposing armies in a series of battles in Northern Virginia. Both sides would concede heavy losses in the following month in a variety of different landscapes around Richmond. The most crucial fighting took place on May 30 and the few days after however, starting with the collision at Bethesda Church where the southern armies attacked the left flank of Grant’s army to no avail. The result of this smaller battle was inconclusive, but the next day’s events would be anything but inconclusive.
After the northerners were able to seize the strategic crossroads of Old Cold Harbor (which would be the second time the crucial intersection would be fought for during the Civil war, the first taking place in 1862), General Grant felt like it was his opportunity to attack and punish Lee’s army in the war. On June 2nd, Grant had his army prepare an attack against the entirety of the Southern front. Unfortunately for the Union, the plans had to be delayed until the 3rd due to some of Grant’s army being unprepared for the planned onslaught. This delay was a critical mistake as the Southern army, clearly being aware of the impending attack, was able to entrench themselves and become better prepared for the incoming movements by the Yankees. After a few days of horrific wounds accrued to the Union army, the northerners were able to make it to the Confederate trenches, but the damage had already been done. Grant was able to control Cold Harbor due to the fighting, but the reward was certainly not worth the cost of casualties that it took to achieve, leading to a clear and concise victory for Lee and the Confederate army.
Grant would show remorse for the attacks at Cold Harbor saying “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made… no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.” All in all, the Union suffered 13,000 casualties during the fighting at Cold Harbor, which astronomically outnumbered the 2,500 men who were wounded or killed of the Southern army that was 62,000 troops strong. Grant would pull out of Cold Harbor a little over a week later, making the costly fight utterly useless. There would certainly be more battles to take place, and the chess match between Lee and Grant would ensue for the remainder of the War (With Grant coming out victorious), but at the Second Battle of Cold Harbor, the day was won by General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate army.