“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Cold Harbor

1864 Overland Campaign

Cold Harbor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, February 11, 2011
1. Cold Harbor Marker
Inscription.  (left panel)
Visiting Richmond National Battlefield Park
The concentration of Civil War resources found in the Richmond area is unparalleled. The National Park Service manages 13 sites, giving visitors an opportunity to examine the battlefield landscapes, to hear the stories of the combatants and civilian residents, and to understand the complex reasons why Richmond came to symbolize the heart and soul of the Confederacy.

This is a partial list of park regulations. Site is open sunrise to sunset. Report suspicious activities to any park employee or call 804-795-5018. In emergencies call 911.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is illegal.
Hunting, trapping, feeding, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Weapons are prohibited inside all park buildings.
Pets must be on a leash.
Recreation activities like kite-flying, ball-playing, and frisbee throwing are prohibited.
Motor vehicles and bicycles must remain
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on established roads.

(center panel)
1864 Overland Campaign
The fourth spring of the war began when Union armies launched a series of offensives across unconquered portions of the South. The action in Virginia included three separate campaigns, each defined by aggressive advances from Union commanders. While smaller armies fought in the Shenandoah Valley and around the Bermuda Hundred region south of Richmond, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sent the largest Northern army against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederates. The ensuing series of battles is known today as the Overland Campaign.

Costly stalemates at the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania delayed Grant’s progress. Confederates next blocked his southward drive at the North Anna River, and then along Totopotomoy Creek at the end of May 1864. Finally the armies collided at Cold Harbor, just eight miles from Richmond. There Grant’s headlong assaults against Lee’s entrenchments on June 1 and June 3 failed. Despite enormous losses, the Union army retained the initiative and marched south to Petersburg, where Grant began the long process of cutting Richmond’s supply lines.

Wilderness May 5-6
Two days of close-quarters action in the thick woods west of Fredericksburg produced nearly 30,000 casualties and inaugurated a grueling campaign that saw the armies sweep across
Cold Harbor Marker (left panel) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, February 11, 2011
2. Cold Harbor Marker (left panel)
most of central Virginia.

Spotsylvania May 8-21
Grant ignored the indecisive results of the Wilderness and pressed southward toward more open ground. The Confederate army blocked him on May 8. For two weeks over 150,000 men fought for an advantage. The terrible combat at the Bloody Angle on May 12 defined this period and reenforced the campaign’s grim tone set at the Wilderness the week before.

North Anna River May 23-26
When the Union army moved away from Spotsylvania, Confederate infantry fell back to the next defensible ground, south of the North Anna River. Actions on May 23 and 24 weakened Grant’s momentum and forced him to look toward another movement to continue his campaign.

Totopotomoy Creek May 28-30
Hard marching and determination took the Union army away from North Anna and closer to Richmond. Just a dozen miles from the city, this creek saw the next collision of the armies. Aggressive probes up and down the creek valley ignited many small battles and proved to General Grant that the Confederates again blocked his direct path to Richmond.

Cold Harbor May31-June 12
The armies revisited ground first contested during McClellan’s 1862 campaign. This time the lines extended for nearly seven miles, with action beginning at the Old Cold Harbor crossroads and extending north and south
Cold Harbor Marker (center panel) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, February 11, 2011
3. Cold Harbor Marker (center panel)
from there. A major attack by the Federal army on June 1 partly succeeded; the larger follow-up attack on June 3 failed badly. The soldiers endured nine more days of sniping and misery in the entrenchments before both armies marched south toward Petersburg, ending the “overland” portion of the 1864 campaign.

(right panel)
Visiting Cold Harbor
Civil War field fortifications at Cold Harbor are some of the best examples to be found anywhere in the United States. The 1864 battle here involved much more than just entrenching, but the visual scars on this 21st-century landscape are compelling reminders of what happened here in the 1800s.

The primary walking trail is one mile long and takes visitors through the heart of the June 1 battlefield. The many signs along the route emphasize that critical fight. A longer spur trail, stretching more than two miles, also is available. The trails follow long stretches of original Union and Confederate entrenchments. Both trails eventually loop back to the parking lot at the visitor center.
Erected 2011 by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #18 Ulysses S. Grant series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1864.
Cold Harbor Marker (right panel) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, February 11, 2011
4. Cold Harbor Marker (right panel)
37° 35.12′ N, 77° 17.218′ W. Marker is in Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker is on Anderson-Wright Drive. This marker is located at the Visitor Center of the Cold Harbor Battlefield Unit of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5515 Anderson-Wright Drive, Mechanicsville VA 23111, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Killing Fields (a few steps from this marker); We Must Hold This Line (within shouting distance of this marker); Walk in the Footsteps of History (within shouting distance of this marker); Read's Battalion (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Cold Harbor (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ultimate Sacrifice (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nowhere To Go (approx. 0.2 miles away); Those People Stand No Chance (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
More about this marker. On the left panel is a map of Civil War sites managed by the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

On the center panel is a map of the Overland Campaign

On the right panel is a map of the Cold Harbor Walking Trails, and an illustration depicting the battle.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Old Marker
Overland Campaign image. Click for full size.
5. Overland Campaign
At This Location
titled "Cold Harbor Battlefield".
Also see . . .
1. Richmond National Battlefield Park. (Submitted on February 12, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
2. Cold Harbor. CWSAC Battle Summary (Submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 

3. Cold Harbor. Civil War Trust (Submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 
Cold Harbor Walking Trails image. Click for full size.
6. Cold Harbor Walking Trails
Combat at Cold Harbor image. Click for full size.
7. Combat at Cold Harbor
Hand-to-hand fighting at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, was just one of many very compelling moments in the famous battle.
Cold Harbor Visitor Center image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, February 11, 2011
8. Cold Harbor Visitor Center
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 12, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,510 times since then and 117 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on February 12, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Jul. 15, 2024