On the evening of May 20, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant sent Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps south from Spotsylvania Court House to Massaponnax Church, with orders to march onward toward Bowling Green, Milford Station, and—if Hancock thought he could make it—all the way to the Confederate rail hub at Hanover Junction, south of the North Anna River. The plan was to dangle the II Corps as bait in the hope of luring Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia out of its formidable defensive position around Spotsylvania. Thus began the next phase of the Overland Campaign.
However, the race to the North Anna was marked with missteps and lost opportunities by both armies. Grant’s war of attrition had begun to wear on the commanders as individuals. Join me on a video tour from Massaponnax Church to the banks of the North Anna as I explore these many missed opportunities.
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