Near Spotsylvania in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Grant Finds an Opening: May 12
Spotsylvania Exhibit Shelter
—West Wall —
Emory Upton's success on May 10 prompted Grant to repeat the attack on a much larger scale. This time the target of the assault was the Muleshoe Salient, a huge outward bulge in the center of the Confederate line. If Grant could break through at the Muleshoe, he would cut Lee's army in two and possibly destroy it.
"Every Confederate realized the desperate situation and every Union soldier knew what was involved. For a time, every soldier was a fiend. The attack was fierce -- the resistance fanatical."
Private John Haley, 17th Maine Infantry
The May 12 attack was at first widely successful. At dawn General Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps overran the Confederate line, scooping up 3,000 prisoners, two generals, and 20 cannon. Lee struck back furiously in an attempt to drive the Union soldiers from the works. For 20 hours the two sides grappled with one another in a pouring rain. The Union army fought to win; the Confederates, to survive.
The Bloody Angle
The May 12 fighting centered on a turn in the Confederate logworks that became known as the "Bloody Angle." There men crossed bayonets in hand-to-hand combat, brained one another with the butts of their guns, and exchanged point-blank fire over the works. Bodies piled up three, four, even five deep in the crimsoned
Neither side yielded an inch -- the Confederates sacrificing their lives so that Lee could build a new line across the base of the Muleshoe Salient. "There is a point in battle beyond which flesh and blood cannot pass," explained one soldier, "and we had reached that point." Finally, after more than 20 hours of combat, Lee's new line was ready, and he withdrew his battered troops from the Bloody Angle, leaving behind a landscape of unspeakable horror.
"...frenzy seemed to posses the yelling, demonic hordes on either side, as soft-voiced tenderhearted men in camp, fought like wild beasts, to destroy their fellow man."
Lieutenant Robert S. Robertson
Union Staff Officer
Location. 38° 13.15′ N, 77° 36.864′ W. Marker is near Spotsylvania, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is on Grant Drive 0.1 miles north of Brock Road (County Route 613), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located at stop one (The Exhibit Shelter) on the driving tour of Spotsylvania Battlefield unit of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Marker is in this post office area: Spotsylvania VA 22553, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this The Battle of Spotsylvania (here, next to this marker); No Turning Back (here, next to this marker); Testing the Line: May 8-10 (here, next to this marker); A Different Kind of War (a few steps from this marker); The Death of Sedgwick (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Spotsylvania Campaign (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Spotsylvania Campaign (about 400 feet away); Sedgwick (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania.
More about this marker. The lower half of the Assault on the Muleshoe panel is a painting captioned, Union soldiers pour over the Confederate logworks at the Muleshoe Salient. "...the men broke into a tremendous cheer," wrote Hancock, "and spontaneously taking the double-quick, they rolled like an irresistible wave into the enemy's works..." Painting by Thure de Thulstrup, courtesy Seventh Regimental Fund, Inc.
A drawing at the bottom of The Bloody Angle is captioned, Sixth Corps troops reinforced Hancock at 6 a.m. This sketch shows Emory Upton's brigade fighting beside two abandoned cannon. "Col. Upton had his old roan mare killed under him at 4 p.m.," one soldier jotted in his diary, "Fighting desperate."
Related markers. list of markers that are related to this marker. Battle of the Wilderness - May 12 Actions to the End of the Battle
Also see . . . The Exhibit Shelter. National Park Service virtual tour stop. Note photos of the shelter with older markers on the walls. (Submitted on August 25, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 25, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 876 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 25, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 4. submitted on August 24, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.