Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: General Ulysses S. Grant's Account of the Battle of Cold Harbor (Illustrated)by Ulysses S. Grant
After the American Civil War began in April 1861, Ulysses S. Grant made a meteoric rise to the top of the Union war effort. Illinois. In 1862, he fought a series of major battles and captured a Confederate army, earning a reputation as an aggressive general who seized control of most of Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. In July 1863, after a long,… See more details below
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After the American Civil War began in April 1861, Ulysses S. Grant made a meteoric rise to the top of the Union war effort. Illinois. In 1862, he fought a series of major battles and captured a Confederate army, earning a reputation as an aggressive general who seized control of most of Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. In July 1863, after a long, complex campaign, he defeated five Confederate armies (capturing one of them) and seized Vicksburg. This famous victory gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, split the Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union victories and conquests. After another victory at the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general and gave him charge of all of the Union Armies. As Commanding General of the United States Army from 1864 to 1865, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of very high casualty battles known as the Overland Campaign that ended in a stalemate siege at Petersburg. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas. Finally breaking through Lee's trenches at Petersburg, the Union Army captured Richmond, the Confederate capital, in April 1865. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Soon after, the Confederacy collapsed and the Civil War ended.
At the Battle of Cold Harbor, General Grant thought Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was on the verge of collapse, and he decided to order a massive frontal assault against well fortified and entrenched lines. Grant was dead wrong, literally. Although the story of Union soldiers pinning their names on the back of their uniforms in anticipation of death is apocryphal, they did suffer thousands of casualties in about half an hour.
General Grant didn’t write an official account of Cold Harbor after the battle; instead he discussed the battle in his official account detailing his time as Commander of U.S. Armies. That account was preserved in The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, and this excerpt deals with the Battle of Cold Harbor. This edition is specially formatted with maps of the campaign and pictures of the important military commanders.
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