The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5–6, 1864
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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I WISH ESPECIALLY to thank the historian William Craig, who offeredviewed my draft and offered valuable insight; William D. Matter andDonald Pfanz, who found time in their busy schedules to read andcomment on the manuscript; and Robert K. Krick, Chief Historian ofthe Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, whose...
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...fensive line was a shallow spot in the Rapidan known as Morton'sFord. There the river bent in a lazy loop to create a broad floodplainalong its southern bank. Ringed by hills, the place formed a naturalamphitheater in which the rebels had front row seats. From heightsabove, the Richmond Howitzers, an elite Southern artillery unit, com-...
I: MAY 2–3, 1864 Lee and Grant Make Their Plans
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...federacy and of hope for the Union cause. During the previous year,Federal armies had gained control of the Mississippi River and hadconsolidated their grip on Tennessee. Not only was the Confederacynow severed from its main river artery but it had lost a substantialportion of its heartland as well. Only two significant Confederate...
II: MAY 4 The Armies Maneuver for Position
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...was to serve as the spearhead of the Federal left wing, crossing Ely'scavalry division was to prepare the way for the Union right wing'sAlthough the Federal infantry advance was not scheduled to startwere initiated earlier in the day. Most critical were the efforts to en-sure that routes from Culpeper to the Rapidan fords were secure....
III: MAY 5, MORNING: Lee and Grant Find Surprise and Opportunity
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MIXED SCENTS OF brewing coffee and pine hovered over the Federalcamps. The still, hot night had been oppressive and sullen, more likefitful sleep by bugles ringing through the woods. They rose sluggishlyaround stacks of rifles. Aching muscles and blisters served as painful"about hunting for the Johnnies through the forest, of the grand time...
IV: MAY 5, AFTERNOON: The Grand Offensive Breaks Down
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WITH A SHOUT, the Union 5th Corps lurched ahead, bowing slightlyforward along the turnpike. Presented with ideal targets, Ewell'sConfederate riflemen blasted away as fast as they could load. Jaggedgaps appeared in the Federal formation. In some places, the Yankeesmade minor inroads. In others, they were decimated almost as soon...
V: MAY 5, EVENING: Grant Strives for a Coordinated Assault
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Meade must have shared a sense of frustration. Despite determinedefforts, they had failed to launch coordinated assaults against Lee'sentire line. On the Orange Turnpike, first Warren and then Sedgwickhad attacked. Each had suffered a costly reverse. Next, Meade's leftwing—Getty's division and Hancock's corps—had pounded Hill's...
VI: MAY 6, MORNING: The Tide Shifts
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SHORTLY BEFORE 5 A.M., a signal gun sounded. Two massive Federalassault columns began converging on Hill's disordered Orange PlankRoad defenses. Straight along the road from the east came Hancock'scorps, strengthened by Getty's division. Slanting through the woodsthe powerful Union vice were closing precisely as Grant had hoped....
VII: MAY 6, MIDDAY: Lee Struggles to Retain the Initiative
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...right-of-way. Low spots had been filled and elevations leveled to pro-ran about two miles below Chancellorsville. It passed near CatharineFurnace, crossed Brock Road at the Trigg farm, then bent slightlyneared Orange Plank Road, the unfinished railroad curved broadlyto the left until it again pointed west. From there, the grade contin-...
VIII: MAY 6, EVENING: The Armies Reach Stalemate
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Georgia brigade needed only a quick survey of the ground'to intuithis best move. He was thirty-two years old and one of the finest com-An hour or so after midnight on May 5, after the firing had diedout, Gordon's Georgians shifted to EwelPs far-left flank, next to Pe-gram's brigade. Gordon dispatched scouts eastward to feel out the...
Appendix: The Order of Battle
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Page Count: 536
Publication Year: 2004