The Battle of the Wilderness & The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

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The Battle of the Wilderness & The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

Although he disengaged in the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant continued on southward. While advancing upon Richmond, Grant and Meade were halted at Spotsylvania Courthouse, where a series of battles broke out lasting around two weeks. The Confederates, however, were made aware of the movement and had time to make formidable defenses of trenches. A part of the entrenchments formed a salient, or bend in the lines of the soldiers, which was called the "Mule's Shoe." Union forces captured most of a division and almost cut the defensive position of the Confederates in half, but were stopped when more stepped in to fill the gap. A bloody fight broke out at the western edge of the "Mule's Shoe," which is now called the "Bloody angle,"and included nearly 24 hours of intense hand to hand combat. The Confederate army lost many men during a failed attempt to turn the Union right flank. Union generals Sedgwick and Rice died, while Confederate generals Daniel and Perrin were gravely injured, and generals Johnson and Stuart were captured. Grant disengaged on the final day of the battle (May 21st).

Grant had Meade and his troops head across the Rapidan River before moving west to confront Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, while more Union forces came from both the north and west to engage the enemy, allowing them to attack from three directions. Lee took a defensive position, placing the Second and Third Corps along the Rapidan and the First Corps at the back. On the morning of the first day of the battle, the Confederate Second Corps were attacked by the Union Fifth Corps on the Orange Turnpike. Meanwhile, in the south at the Orange Plank Road, three brigades under the command of General George Getty of the Union fought the Confederate Third Corps. At night the fighting ceased and reinforcements were called. During the next day, Grant concentrated on the fighting on Orange Planks Road since the Confederate Third Corps was nearing collapse. Around 5 a.m., Getty and the three brigades attacked again with more Union forces at the left and the Ninth Corps at the rear. The Confederates were forced back to Widow Tapp Farm, but then the Confederate First Corps arrived, driving back the Union soldiers all the way to Brock Road. However, during the battle, the leader of the Confederate First Corps was seriously injured by his own men. At night a fire started, killing most of the wounded and burning dead bodies. Grant moved his troops towards Spotsylvania, where more fighting would follow.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse followed the Battle of the Wilderness. They were the first two malor battles of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's overland campaign. He was trying to destroy the Confederate army and capture Richmond, and both of these battles took place when Confederate troops attempted to stop him.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse lasted longer. It started on May 8 and ended on May 21 of 1864. It lasted 13 days.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House


Result: Inconclusive.

The Battle of the Wilderness started on May 5, 1864 and ended on May 7, lasting two days.

The Battle of the Wilderness

Result: Inconclusive.

Conferderate Troops: approx. 61,000Casualties: 11,000

ConfederateGeneral:Robert E. Lee

Union Troops: 100,000Casualties: 2,725 killed, 2,258 missing or captured

Confederate Troops: approx. 52,000Casualties: 1,467 killed, 5,719 captured or missing

Union Major General: GeorgeG. Meade

Union Lt. General:Ulysses S. Grant

FactsThe Battle of the Wilderness: As they retreated, the Union troops cheered and sang, because they were used to retreating from bloody battles.The Battle of Spotsylvania: The fierceness of small arms at the angle was enough to shoot down a 22 inch oak tree.

Union Troops: approx. 102,000Casualties: 17,666


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