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Cold Harbor

The battle of Cold Harbor on June 3d was the third tremendous engagement of Grant's campaign against Richmond within a month. It was also his costliest onset on Lee's veteran army. Grant had risked much in his change of base to the James in order to bring him nearer to Richmond and to the friendly hand which Butler with the Army of the James was in a position to reach out to him. Lee had again confronted him, entrenching himself but six miles from the outworks of Richmond, while the Chickahominy cut off any further flanking movement. There was nothing to do but fight it out, and Grant ordered an attack all along the line. On June 3d he hurled the Army of the Potomac against the inferior numbers of Lee, and in a brave assault upon the Confederate entrenchments, lost ten thousand men in twenty minutes. Grant's assault at Cold Harbor was marked by the gallantry of General Hancock's division and of the brigades of Gibbon and Barlow, who on the left of the Federal line charged up the ascent in their front upon the concentrated artillery of the Confederates; they took the position and held it for a moment under a galling fire, which finally drove them back, but not until they had captured a flag and three hundred prisoners. The battle was substantially over by half-past 7 in the morning, but sullen fighting continued throughout the day. About noontime General Grant, who had visited all the corps commanders to see for himself the positions gained and what could be done, concluded that the Confederates were too strongly entrenched to be dislodged and ordered that further offensive action should cease. All the next day the dead and wounded lay on the field uncared for while both armies warily watched each other. The lower picture was taken during this weary wait. Not till the 7th was a satisfactory truce arranged, and then all but two of the wounded Federals had died. No wonder that Grant wrote, “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made.”

Where ten thousand fell

Federal Camp at Cold Harbor after the battle


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U. S. Grant (12)
Fitzhugh Lee (6)
Hancock (2)
Gibbon (2)
B. F. Butler (2)
Francis C. Barlow (2)
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