Follow the Overland Campaign with the Emerging Civil War Book Series, from Savas Beatie, LLC.
No Turning Back: A Guide to the 1864 Overland Campaign, from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May 4-June 13, 1864
By: Robert M. Dunkerly, Donald C. Pfanz, and David R. Ruth
With the Union Army of the Potomac as his sledge, Grant crossed the Rapidan River, intending to draw the Army of Northern Virginia into one final battle. Short of that, he planned “to hammer continuously against the armed forces of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if no other way, there should be nothing left to him…”
Almost immediately, though, Robert E. Lee’s Confederates brought Grant to bay in the thick tangle of the Wilderness. Rather than retreat, as other army commanders had done in the past, Grant out maneuvered Lee, swinging left and south.
There was, after all, no turning back.
A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 8021, 1864
by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White
“I intend to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer,” Union commander Ulysses S. Grant wrote to Washington after he’d opened his Overland Campaign in the Spring of 1864. His resolve entirely changed the face of warfare.
Grant, the irresistible force, hammering with his overwhelming numbers and unprecedented power, versus Lee, the immovable object, hunkered down behind the most formidable defensive works yet seen on the continent—Spotsylvania Court House represents a chess match of immeasurable stakes between two master opponents.
Hurricane from the Heavens: The Battle of Cold Harbor, May 26-June 5, 1864
By Daniel Davis and Phillip Greenwalt
May 1864 had witnessed near-constant combat between his Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Grant, unlike his predecessors, had not relented in his pounding of the Confederates. The armies clashed in the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania Courthouse and along the North Anna River. Whenever combat failed to break the Confederates, Grant resorted to maneuver. “I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer,” Grant vowed—and it had.
The stakes had grown enormous. Grant’s staggering casualty lists had driven Northern morale to his lowest point of the war. Would Lee’s men hold on to defend their besieged capital—and, in doing so, prolong the war until Northern will collapsed entirely? Or would another round of hard fighting finally be enough to crush Lee’s army? Could Grant push through and end the war?
Grant would find his answers around a small Virginia crossroads called Cold Harbor—and he would always regret the results.