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Home » 150 anniversary » Battle of Spotsylvania Court House – This Day in Civil War history

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House – This Day in Civil War history


sedgwick_dwgIn May of 1864, a battle known as the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was fought, lasting for most of two weeks. This battle included some of the bloodiest fighting of the entire war. An undecided battle in the Virginia woods, known as the Wilderness, had ended on the 7th of May. Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Potomac marched to the south, and there met Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at the crossroads town of Spotsylvania Court House.

The ensuring battle lasted 12 days. Although Union troops broke the Confederate line, the rebels held and were able to close the gap. The battle caused 18,000 Union and 11,000 Confederate casualties, including 20 hours of hand-to-hand combat at the infamous “Bloody Angle.” On the 21st of May, Grant pulled out his troops, ordering them to continute south towards Richmond.

150 years ago, on May 9th, in the midst of this battle, Grant had sent his army’s 2nd Corps, led by Winfield Scott Hancock, to the Confederate left. Lee countered the movement the next day. When Union divisions attacked the Confederate left-center, Lee reinforced the line, which held.

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  1. I went to the reenactment of the “Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse” (held on the weekend–May 3 and May 4).
    It was quite an impressive event–very realistic. I learned a lot watching the event and then talking to the soldiers/reenactments in the encampments. A great way to learn history! I posted some of the photos that I took—on my website.

  2. Very cool, Mary! The only reenactments my husband and I did in Virginia were Bull Run/Manassas and Cedar Creek. Our group never did the Wilderness battles.

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