Spotsylvania 8–12 May 1864


Map Code: Ax02034

The Battle of Spotsylvania, Virginia (8–21 May) was the second major battle of Union commander Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign against Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee. Grant was determined to capture the road junction at Spotsylvania, a vital crossroads on the route to Richmond, the Confederate capital. Although the battle was one of the Civil War’s bloodiest, there was to be no clear victor. On 8 May, Lee and Grant’s forces clashed at the crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House, where both armies had built trenches. The entrenchments were successful and made it difficult for Union forces to rupture the Confederate lines. On 10 May, there was some Union success at a weak-spot on the line, known as the ‘mule shoe’, where Colonel Emory Upton, helped by a dawn fog, rallied twelve lines of infantry to temporarily break the Confederate lines. On 12 May a larger assault ensued under Union Major General Horatio Wright. This involved hand-to-hand combat and was ultimately repulsed by the Confederates.

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