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Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Keitt’s Attack — Morning, June 1, 1864

 
 
Keitt’s Attack — Morning, June 1, 1864 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, November 21, 2015
1. Keitt’s Attack — Morning, June 1, 1864 Marker
Inscription.  On the morning of June 1, General Lee was anxious to regain control of the Old Cold Harbor Crossroads and ordered two Confederate infantry divisions to attack the outnumbered Union cavalry troopers defending the intersection.

Colonel Laurence M. Keitt, a signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, played a critical role in the attack. His regiment, the 20th South Carolina Infantry, had joined Lee’s army just the previous day and was placed in Col. John W. Henagan’s Brigade. Though inexperienced at handling troops in the field, Keitt outranked Henagan and assumed command of the brigade. Leading the attack on June 1, Keitt moved his men from right to left across this ground, toward the dismounted Union troopers, many of whom were armed with repeating carbines and fighting behind breastworks. Captain Theophilus F. Rodenbough of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry noted, “the whole thing was over in less than five minutes.” The attack failed miserably, with Keitt mortally wounded. Federal infantry soon arrived to relieve the cavalrymen. The next move was up to Grant.

“Every man in ranks knew
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that he was being led by one of the most gifted and gallant men in the South, but every old soldier felt and saw at a glance his inexperience and want of self-control. ”

Captain D. Augustus Dickert, 3rd South Carolina Infantry, describing Keitt

(captions)
The Old Cold Harbor crossroads, objective of Keitt’s attack on the morning of June 1, received its name from the tavern that sat at the southeastern corner of the intersection. This sketch by combat artist Edwin Forbes shows the Old Cold Harbor Tavern flying a Union 2nd Corps flag just two days after Keitt’s failed offensive.

Colonel Laurence M. Keitt, Photo courtesy: Museum of the Confederacy
 
Erected 2015 by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is June 1, 1864.
 
Location. 37° 35.829′ N, 77° 16.746′ W. Marker is in Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from Beulah Church Road (Virginia Route 633) 0.2 miles south of Glenharbor Lane, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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. The Armies Gather at Cold Harbor (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cold Harbor: The Early Actions
Keitt’s Attack — Morning, June 1, 1864 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, November 21, 2015
2. Keitt’s Attack — Morning, June 1, 1864 Marker
(about 800 feet away); June 3, 1864 — 18th Corps: A Disastrous Attack (approx. 0.2 miles away); Union Earthworks (approx. 0.4 miles away); In Reserve (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Cold Harbor Killing Fields (approx. half a mile away); Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (approx. half a mile away); A Bloody Baptism of Fire (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
 
Cold Harbor Tavern image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Edwin Forbes, June 3, 1864
3. Cold Harbor Tavern
Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-20704
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 22, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 433 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 22, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Feb. 27, 2024