Battle of Cold Harbor

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Battle of Cold Harbor
2nd Cold Harbor

May 31, 1864


June 12, 1864


Hanover County, Virginia


Eastern Theater


Grant’s Overland Campaign


Confederate victory

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Army of the Potomac

Army of Northern Virginia


Ulysses S. Grant
Lieutenant General, USA
George G. Meade
Major General, USA

Robert E. Lee
General, CSA





Killed: 1,844
Wounded: 9,077
Missing or captured: 1,816

Killed: 83
Wounded: 3,380
Missing or captured: 1,132


On May 31, Sheridan’s cavalry seized the vital crossroads of Old Cold Harbor. Early on June 1, relying heavily on their new repeating carbines and shallow entrenchments, Sheridan’s troopers threw back an attack by Confederate infantry. Confederate reinforcements arrived from Richmond and from the Totopotomoy Creek lines. Late on June 1, the Union VI and XVIII Corps reached Cold Harbor and assaulted the Confederate works with some success. By June 2, both armies were on the field, forming on a seven-mile front that extended from Bethesda Church to the Chickahominy River. At dawn June 3, the II and XVIII Corps, followed later by the IX Corps, assaulted along the Bethesda Church-Cold Harbor line and were slaughtered at all points. Grant commented in his memoirs that this was the only attack he wished he had never ordered. The armies confronted each other on these lines until the night of June 12, when Grant again advanced by his left flank, marching to James River. On June 14, the II Corps was ferried across the river at Wilcox’s Landing by transports. On June 15, the rest of the army began crossing on a 2,200-foot long pontoon bridge at Weyanoke. Abandoning the well-defended approaches to Richmond, Grant sought to shift his army quickly south of the river to threaten Petersburg. (NPS summary)