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Spotsylvania Court House: where Grant wanted to “fight it out” For miles around this quaint old village-pump surged the lines of two vast contending armies, May 8-12, 1864. In this picture of only a few months later, the inhabitants have returned to their accustomed quiet, although the reverberations of battle have hardly died away. But on May 7th Generals Grant and Meade, with their staffs, had started toward the little courthouse. As they passed along the Brock Road in the rear of Hancock's lines, the men broke into loud hurrahs. They saw that the movement was still to be southward. But chance had caused Lee to choose the same objective. Misinterpreting Grant's movement as a retreat upon Fredericksburg, he sent Longstreet's corps, now commanded by Anderson, to Spotsylvania. Chance again, in the form of a forest fire, drove Anderson to make, on the night of May 7th, the march from the Wilderness that he had been ordered to commence on the morning of the 8th. On that day, while Warren was contending with the forces of Anderson, Lee's whole army was entrenching on a ridge around Spotsylvania Court House. “Accident,” says Grant, “often decides the fate of battle.” But this “accident” was one of Lee's master moves.

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