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

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

“Toughest Fight Yet”

 
 
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 15, 2014
1. Battle of Spotsylvania Court House Marker
Inscription. The ground before you was hotly contested for two full weeks during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. From May 8 to May 21, 1864, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sought to drive the Confederates from their earthworks and cripple Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army, leaving the Southern capital vulnerable to capture and ending the three-year old Civil War.

On May 7, both armies had marched southeast from the densely forested region known as the Wilderness, where Grant had ended a bloody and inconclusive battle by maneuvering around Lee’s army. Lee met him here, near Spotsylvania Court House, where both sides quickly built earthworks.

To your left, Confederate earthworks anchored the right flank of Lee’s defensive position, continuing more than a mile north before bulging around the “Mule Shoe Salient,” then turning southwest for more than two miles. All along these lines, both sides traded blows but were unable to make any lasting gains.

The most intense fighting (by some accounts, the most violent of the entire war) occurred at the Mule Shoe Salient, where Union forces broke through on May 12. They captured thousands of Southerners but were unable to exploit their foothold in the Confederate lines.

“I wanted to get between [Lee’s] army and Richmond if possible; and, if not, to draw
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House Markers image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 15, 2014
2. Battle of Spotsylvania Court House Markers
him into the open field.”
—Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, USA

“We … [fought] desperately not dreaming of [capture] until we were completely surrounded by their overwhelming numbers.” —Pvt. James McCown, 5th Virginia Infantry

(captions)
(lower left) In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant (right) received command of all Union armies and came to Virginia to challenge Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (left).
(upper right)“The Bloody Angle” in the Mule Shoe Salient witnessed the battle’s hardest fighting. The Confederates barely held off the Federal assault, fighting with bayonets in the pouring rain. The artist justifiably titled his sketch “The Toughest Fight Yet.”
(lower right)Throughout the battle, whenever Grant tried to outflank the Confederates, Lee extended his earthworks, forcing Grant to choose between costly attacks or stalemate. This style of combat characterized the last year of the Civil War.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 12.505′ N, 77° 34.866′ W. Marker is in Spotsylvania, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is at the intersection
The toughest fight yet. The fight for the salient image. Click for full size.
By Alfred R. Waud, circa 1864
3. The toughest fight yet. The fight for the salient
Published in Harper's Weekly, June 11, 1864, p. 376-7. Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-5969]
of Courthouse Bypass (Virginia Route 208) and Courthouse Road (Business Virginia Route 208), on the right when traveling west on Courthouse Bypass. Touch for map. 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 marker. Heth's Salient Battle Site (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (here, next to this marker); The Fredericksburg Road (approx. ¼ mile away); "If It Takes All Summer" (approx. ¼ mile away); Confederate Soldiers (approx. 0.4 miles away); 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment (approx. half a mile away); Heth’s Salient (approx. half a mile away); Spotsylvania Court House (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spotsylvania.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Charles L. Russell, Congrssional Medal of Honor, captured the flag of the 42nd Virginia Infantry
 
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Trust. (Submitted on May 16, 2014.)
2. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. National Park Service (Submitted on May 16, 2014.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 15, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 347 times since then and 59 times this year. Last updated on November 16, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 15, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3. submitted on June 1, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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