Today in 1864, the bloody and inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness ended nearby with no apparent winner. Still it did not stop Grant’s Union troops from flanking ever southwards toward Lee’s rebel capital at Richmond.
EXIT OF THE DAY: EXIT 126 a I-95s to: Leavells/ Spotsylvania Parkway, VIRGINIA
Across the farmer's field over there raged not one but two Civil War Battles.
If it seems that Civil War Battles had sequels and prequels, well, in some ways that's correct. Near Washington, there was a Bull Run One and a Bull Run Two. Here there were two battles of Spotsylvania. Very often it was because the leaders had consistent objectives over 4 years like capturing Richmond or invading the North. Yet since they were mostly unsuccessful, it meant a lot of battles happened in the same areas. But the battles were years apart.
On top of that, The North and the South had different names for the same battle. So to casual students of history it got even more confusing.
In this immediate area, a campaign in the Spring of 1863 was most notable for the South beating back the North which was considered a great Southern victory. The unfortunate caveat for the South in that campaign was the death of the South's fearless "God Inspired" soldier, General Stonewall Jackson in May of 1863.
A year later at the nearby Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, President Abe Lincoln seemed to finally have found a fighting General in the person of the new Union Commanding General, Ulysses S Grant. Out west, Grant was promoted after his successful campaigns in the Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys. An impressed President Lincoln brought him east to wage war with General Robert E Lee’s army. Lincoln was willing to suffer heavy losses to try to end the war fast.
The first time for a nationwide war, Grant devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions. Fronts were opened in the Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia, Georgia, and Mobile, Alabama. Grant himself would try to take the Confederate capital at Richmond. Grant was both a West Point grad and a veteran of The Mexican American Wars — just like his nemesis -- Lee and Stonewall Jackson. And like the Southern Generals , he believed in engaging the enemy violently and frequently to bring about the swiftest end of the war.
Here at Spotsylvania, Grant borrowed Confederate tactics and kept flanking his way to the south east trying to end run the Confederates all the way to Richmond. Each end run terminated in a dreadful bloody standoff.
Having just disengaged from a questionable outcome at the battle of the Wilderness, Grant threw his army into an entrenched Lee at Spotsylvania cross roads and Grant as advertised lived up to his billing. Just one engagement, The so-called Battle of the Mule Shoe on May 12 involved 24 hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, some of the most intense of the Civil War. The body count between May 8 to May 21 on both sides exceeded 32,000 dead.
Grant's campaign would push further south and east, but this was the costliest of the campaign.
Finally, it sent notice to the out-gunned and out-manned south that after three years of victories over Lincoln's indecisive generals, a new man was in charge. And a new war had just begun.
#Spotsylvania #Civilwar #Confederates #BattleofMarysRidge #BattleofMuleShoe #BattleofTheWiderness #RobertELee #UlyssesSGrant #CourtHouse #CivilWar