Last year when we did our Grant theme we had to cut a few battles out to fit the theme to a calendar year. One of the battles that lost out was Spotsylvania Court House. Dave Townsend will help fill in that gap at our next meeting. This battle was actually a series of engagement lasting from May 8th to the 21st. Lee’s lines were about four miles long with a salient, dubbed the Mule Shoe, his only weakness.
On May 10th and 12th the Union assaulted this salient, the first time with 12 regiments under Emory Upton and the second time with Hancock’s entire 2nd Corps of 15,000 men. After expelling this force Lee completed a fall back line and the Union took the Mule Shoe for good. In all roughly 10,000 men fell in the fighting in this area.
Grant would try again on May 18th to break Lee’s lines but was again repulsed. This convinced him that the line could not be broken at Spotsylvania and he would have to move around Lee’s right flank once again. The next time they’d meet at the North Anna River.
Total Union losses for the two week battle is usually put at around 18,000 men, though one source claims only 13,000. Confederate losses are widely reported in the 10,000 to 13,000 range. While the losses are huge we also most remember that Lee started the battle with roughly 52,000 men and Grant started with nearly 100,000. This was the beginning of the arithmetic that Lee could not win.
Dave suggests the following books:
Grant and Lee: the Virginia Campaigns 1864-65 by William A Frassanito
The Virginia Campaign 1864 and 1865 by Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys
The Battles for Spotsylvania CH and ... Yellow Tavern by Gordon C. Rhea
Bloody Roads South: May-June 1864 by Noah Andre Trudeau
As always everyone is encouraged to bring in additional items to sweeten the pot. The drawing will take place at 6:45 PM just prior to the new business portion of the meeting. The presentation will begin promptly at 7:00 PM.