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Cold Harbor

Grant and Lee, May 26–June 3, 1866

Gordon C. Rhea

Publication Year: 2007

Gordon Rhea's gripping fourth volume on the spring 1864 campaign-which pitted Ulysses S. Grant against Robert E. Lee for the first time in the Civil War-vividly re-creates the battles and maneuvers from the stalemate on the North Anna River through the Cold Harbor offensive. Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864 showcases Rhea's tenacious research which elicits stunning new facts from the records of a phase oddly ignored or mythologized by historians. In clear and profuse tactical detail, Rhea tracks the remarkable events of those nine days, giving a surprising new interpretation of the famous battle that left seven thousand Union casualties and only fifteen hundred Confederate dead or wounded. Here, Grant is not a callous butcher, and Lee does not wage a perfect fight. Within the pages of Cold Harbor, Rhea separates fact from fiction in a charged, evocative narrative. He leaves readers under a moonless sky, with Grant pondering the eastward course of the James River fifteen miles south of the encamped armies.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents, Illustrations

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pp. v-ix

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pp. xi-xv

FOR FORTY-SIX DAYS in May and June 1864, the American Civil War's foremost commanders, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, fought a grinding campaign through Virginia from the Rapidan River to Petersburg. Encompassed in that brief span were...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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I: May 25, 1864: Lee Deadlocks Grant on the North Anna

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pp. 1-26

LIEUTENANT GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT parted the flaps of his headquarters tent. Spring had painted Central Virginia lush shades of green. Trees loomed like misshapen figures in the early morning drizzle. The field at Grant's feet fell sharply...

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II: May 26–27, 1864: Grant Shifts to the Pamunkey

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pp. 27-60

MAY 26 BROUGHT another deluge. The North Anna crept higher in its banks. Anxiety at Grant's and Meade's headquarters near Quarles's Mill became palpable. Sheridan's cavalry corps, recuperating from its raid toward Richmond, was slated...

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III: May 28: Sheridan and Hampton Meet at Haw's Shop

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pp. 61-91

SUNRISE ON SATURDAY, May 28, revealed two armies in motion, each reaching blindly toward the other. Grant's goal was to finish crossing the Pamunkey. An advance force—Torbert's and Gregg's cavalry divisions and Russell's division of infantry...

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IV: May 29: Grant Searches for Lee

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pp. 92-113

SUNDAY, MAY 29, saw the Union army safely across the Pamunkey. "Thus far General Grant has succeeded in flanking Lee in every strong position taken by him until finally the enemy is pushed back into the works of [Richmond]," an Indiana man...

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V: May 30: The Armies Clash at Bethesda Church and Matadequin Creek

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pp. 114-160

MAY 30 DAWNED warm and pleasant. Lee rose early as usual. His illness persisted, but he felt stronger than he had in days. He was pleased with his defensive line along Totopotomoy Creek and confident he could hold it. His chief concern was that...

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VI: May 31: The Armies Drift toward Cold Harbor

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pp. 161-194

AT 6:00 A.M. on May 31, Dana sent a dispatch to War Secretary Stanton describing the Army of the Potomac's dispositions. Wright held the northern, or right, end of the Union line, threatening Lee's left. Hancock still covered Atlee Station Road...

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VII: June 1: Grant and Lee Jockey for Position

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pp. 195-223

THE TRAMP OF SOLDIERS marching toward Old Cold Harbor filled the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 1. Torbert's cavalry was rushing back to the crossroads and taking up strong positions in anticipation of a spirited fight at first light. Devin's brigade...

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VIII: June 1: Grant Attacks at Cold Harbor [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 224-278

ROADS AND TERRAIN figured prominently as Union and Confederate forces deployed for battle on the afternoon of June 1. Federal troops and wagons laden with supplies passed through Old Church, continued south along Bottoms Bridge Road...

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IX: June 2: Grant Misses an Opportunity

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pp. 279-317

HANCOCK'S 2ND CORPS began leaving its Totopotomoy Creek defenses shortly after dark on June 1, intending to join Wright and Smith at Cold Harbor in time to renew the offensive early on the morning of June 2. Gibbon pulled out first, followed...

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X: June 3 4:30–5:30 A.M.: Hancock, Wright, and Smith Attack at Cold Harbor

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pp. 318-364

RAIN FELL SHORTLY before daylight on June 3, "refreshingly us exceedingly," a Federal recalled. Mist hugged close to the ground, obscuring objects more than a few yards ahead. Moisture dripped from trees, and fog seemed unusually dense...

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XI: June 3: Lee Stalemates Grant Again

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pp. 365-395

HALF PAST FOUR on the morning of June 3 found Meade and his staff at the Kelly house. Wright, who had made the Kelly place his headquarters, had gone to the front. Meade could hear muffled sounds of battle but could see nothing of the...

Appendix 1: The Union Order of Battle

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pp. 397-408

Appendix 2: The Confederate Order of Battle

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pp. 409-417


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pp. 419-469


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pp. 471-499


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pp. 501-532

E-ISBN-13: 9780807135754
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807132449

Page Count: 552
Publication Year: 2007