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Related Historical MarkersTake a Virtual Tour By Markers of the NPS Cold Harbor Battlefield.
By Bill Coughlin, April 24, 2007
Confederate Artillery at Cold Harbor
SHOWN IN SOURCE-SPECIFIED ORDER
|Here Grant and Lee, with combined armies numbering some 180,000 men, fought for two weeks in May and June of 1864. They came here directly after the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and North Anna River. Grant stretched his line to seven . . . — — Map (db m15047) HM|
|This one-mile walking trail covers historic ground that witnessed two weeks of intense fighting in June 1864. It winds through earthen fortifications built more than a century ago. The Cold Harbor battle raged over thousands of acres, and this loop . . . — — Map (db m15259) HM|
|These cannon mark the approximate position of a four-gun battery belonging to the Richmond Fayette Artillery, part of Major J.P.W. Read’s Battalion that held strategic points along the Confederate main line. The battery supported General Alfred . . . — — Map (db m15231) HM|
|Here Longstreet’s Corps, with Breckinridge and A.P. Hill’s Corps to the southward, repulsed on June 3, 1864, fourteen assaults from the east against the Confederate main line. The Federal losses, about 7000, were the heaviest ever sustained in . . . — — Map (db m14234) HM|
|After two days of bitter combat, Confederate infantry built their final line of defense across this spot. Remnants of that line are visible emerging from the woods to your left. Richmond stood only nine miles to the southwest and General Lee knew . . . — — Map (db m15258) HM|
|This was approximately the farthest point gained and held by the Federals in their assaults of June 3, 1864 on the Confederate main line, 130 yards to the west. The heaviest losses sustained by the Federals were along and on either side of this road. — — Map (db m181651) HM|
|This shallow, winding depression is all that remains of a “zigzag” constructed by Union troops in June 1864. In trench warfare, soldiers dug ditches, called zigzags or covered-ways, to provide protection from sharpshooters as they moved . . . — — Map (db m16881) HM|
|These trenches represent a dramatic change in battlefield tactics. When the two armies met on this ground in 1862, soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder; victory was often dependent upon the success or failure of a dramatic charge.
By 1864 field . . . — — Map (db m16882) HM|
|On the morning of June 1, 1864, Confederate soldiers of Thomas Clingman’s North Carolina brigade frantically dug this trench. They anticipated a Union assault later in the day. Around 6:00 p.m. Federal troops of the VI Corps moved into position near . . . — — Map (db m16883) HM|
|This well preserved rifle pit is one of many that extended across this hilltop and along the entire front. It marks the most advanced Federal position in this sector, only 50 yards from similar Confederate pits on the opposite crest.
Soldiers . . . — — Map (db m16885) HM|
|The Union assaults of June 3 failed on nearly all fronts. For the next three days, while Federal wounded lay untended between the lines, Generals U. S. Grant and R. E. Lee struggled over the details of a truce. On June 7, more than 100 hours after . . . — — Map (db m16886) HM|
|From this advanced Confederate line, constructed after the grand Union assault of June 3, Lee’s sharpshooters searched for targets. They were near enough to the Federal line that enemy voices could be heard.
Between June 3 and June 12 constant . . . — — Map (db m16887) HM|
|This sluggish creek is known as Bloody Run in memory of the violent hand-to-hand fighting that occurred here.
Bloody Run flows east to west, winding through the woods. During the battle the brush-choked stream and its gentle slopes provided the . . . — — Map (db m16888) HM|
|This covered-way, constructed after June 3, connected the main Confederate line behind you to the low ground in front. A South Carolinian stationed near here recalled:
To guard against the shells that were continually dropping in our midst . . . — — Map (db m16891) HM|
|From this dominating position, Confederates of Major General Robert Hoke’s Division, easily repulsed part of the famous June 3 assault. For the South Carolinians holding this line, the battle ended before they knew a serious charge had been made. . . . — — Map (db m16894) HM|
|For nearly two weeks, from June 3 to June 12, the soldiers endured the agony of trench warfare. One Virginian recalled:
Thousands of men cramped up in a narrow trench, unable to go out, or to get up, or to stretch or to stand, without danger . . . — — Map (db m16895) HM|
|The losses sustained by both armies during the Wilderness to Cold Harbor campaign made the world shudder. Casualties by some estimates averaged 2,000 per day, and at Cold Harbor nearly 18,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured.
While . . . — — Map (db m16896) HM|
|Thousands of Union soldiers lived in these fortifications for eleven long days in 1864. The piles of freshly shoveled dirt sheltered the men from the scorching June sun while shielding them from enemy missiles. The lengthy halt at Cold Harbor . . . — — Map (db m16520) HM|
|You are standing among entrenchments built by soldiers of the Union Eighteenth Corps less than ¼ mile from the front lines. At Cold Harbor regiments typically rotated out of the front lines every other day. This explains the many layers of reserve . . . — — Map (db m16522) HM|
|The heaviest fighting on June 3 occurred at three separate spots outside the present boundary of the national park. You are looking northward toward one of those places. Two brigades of infantry from the Eighteenth Corps charged from right to left . . . — — Map (db m16523) HM|
|You are standing now just in front of the main section of Confederate fortifications. The primary line of Union entrenchments is 200 yards to your left. With the end of Grant’s attacks on the afternoon of June 3, the battle followed a less noisy but . . . — — Map (db m15257) HM|
|This remarkably preserved stretch of the main Confederate line saw little action. Although the land here was much less wooded in 1864, its occupants appreciated the partial shelter offered by the low ground. The soldiers took advantage of it to . . . — — Map (db m16890) HM|
|These earthworks are the center of the Confederate line – six miles of overlapping entrenchments. Taking advantage of the Union delay, the Confederates prepared defenses that swept every approach with cannon and rifle-musket. Across open . . . — — Map (db m15230) HM|
|The night before, Union soldiers write their names on scraps of paper fastened to their clothing, hoping to be identified after the battle. At 4:30 a.m. they are ordered to attack the Confederate earthworks clearly visible across the open field. . . . — — Map (db m15229) HM|
|Late on the afternoon of June 1, 1864, Col. Elisha Strong Kellogg and his 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery attacked Confederate entrenchments to the west along with other Federal troops from the Sixth and the Eighteenth Corps. Kellogg . . . — — Map (db m15228) HM|
|Advancing on June 1, 1864 from Old Cold Harbor, the Federal Sixth Corps occupied this and adjacent positions from which on June 3 the Army of the Potomac delivered repeated assaults against the main Confederate defences, which were approximately 400 . . . — — Map (db m14231) HM|