Battle of the Wilderness

Battle of the Wilderness

Overview
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen.
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign
Overland Campaign
The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the...

 against Gen. Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 and the Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

 by Grant against Lee's army and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.

Grant attempted to move quickly through the dense underbrush of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, but Lee launched two of his corps on parallel roads to intercept him.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Battle of the Wilderness'
Start a new discussion about 'Battle of the Wilderness'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen.
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign
Overland Campaign
The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the...

 against Gen. Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 and the Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

 by Grant against Lee's army and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.

Grant attempted to move quickly through the dense underbrush of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, but Lee launched two of his corps on parallel roads to intercept him. On the morning of May 5, the Union V Corps under Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 Gouverneur K. Warren
Gouverneur K. Warren
Gouverneur Kemble Warren was a civil engineer and prominent general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 attacked the Confederate Second Corps
Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
The Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was a military organization within the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during much of the American Civil War. It was officially created and named following the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862, but comprised units in a corps organization for quite...

, commanded by Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell
Richard S. Ewell
Richard Stoddert Ewell was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general during the American Civil War. He achieved fame as a senior commander under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E...

, on the Orange Turnpike. That afternoon the Third Corps
Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
The Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was a military organization within the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during much of the American Civil War. The corps was formed in mid-1863 and served until Lee's surrender April 9, 1865, near the end of the war.-Formation:After the death of...

, commanded by Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, encountered Brig. Gen.
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 George W. Getty
George W. Getty
George Washington Getty was a career military officer in the United States Army, most noted for his role as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac during the final full year of the American Civil War....

's division (VI Corps) and Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps on the Orange Plank Road. Fighting until dark was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the dense woods.

At dawn on May 6, Hancock attacked along the Plank Road, driving Hill's Corps back in confusion, but the First Corps
First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
The First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia was a military unit fighting for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. It was formed in early 1861 and served until the spring of 1865, mostly in the Eastern Theater. The corps was commanded by James Longstreet for much of its...

 of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
James Longstreet
James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the...

 arrived in time to prevent the collapse of the Confederate right flank. Longstreet followed up with a surprise flanking attack from an unfinished railroad bed that drove Hancock's men back to the Brock Road, but the momentum was lost when Longstreet was wounded by his own men. An evening attack by Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon against the Union right flank caused consternation at Union headquarters, but the lines stabilized and fighting ceased. On May 7, Grant disengaged and moved to the southeast, intending to leave the Wilderness to interpose his army between Lee and Richmond, leading to the bloody Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania , was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged...

.

Background



In March 1864, Grant was summoned from the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

, promoted to lieutenant general, and given command of all Union armies. He chose to make his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, although Meade retained formal command of that army. Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

 succeeded Grant in command of most of the western armies. Grant and President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions, including attacks against Lee near Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

, and in the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, and Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

. This was the first time the Union armies would have a coordinated offensive strategy across a number of theaters.

Grant's campaign objective was not the Confederate capital of Richmond, but the destruction of Lee's army. Lincoln had long advocated this strategy for his generals, recognizing that the city would certainly fall after the loss of its principal defensive army. Grant ordered Meade, "Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also." Although he hoped for a quick, decisive battle, Grant was prepared to fight a war of attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

. Both Union and Confederate casualties could be high, but the Union had greater resources to replace lost soldiers and equipment.

Opposing forces



At the beginning of the campaign, Grant's Union forces totaled 118,700 men and 316 guns. They consisted of the Army of the Potomac, under Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and the IX Corps (until May 24 formally part of the Army of the Ohio
Army of the Ohio
The Army of the Ohio was the name of two Union armies in the American Civil War. The first army became the Army of the Cumberland and the second army was created in 1863.-History:...

, reporting directly to Grant, not Meade). The five corps were:
  • II Corps, under Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, including the divisions of Maj. Gen. David B. Birney
    David B. Birney
    David Bell Birney was a businessman, lawyer, and a Union General in the American Civil War.-Early life:Birney was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of an abolitionist from Kentucky, James G. Birney. The Birney family returned to Kentucky in 1833, and James Birney freed his slaves...

     and Brig. Gens. Francis C. Barlow
    Francis C. Barlow
    Francis Channing Barlow was a lawyer, politician, and Union General during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

    , John Gibbon
    John Gibbon
    John Gibbon was a career United States Army officer who fought in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars.-Early life:...

    , and Gershom Mott
    Gershom Mott
    Gershom Mott was a United States Army officer and a General in the Union Army, a commander in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    .
  • V Corps, under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren
    Gouverneur K. Warren
    Gouverneur Kemble Warren was a civil engineer and prominent general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

    , including the divisions of Brig. Gens. Charles Griffin, John C. Robinson
    John C. Robinson
    John Cleveland Robinson had a long and distinguished career in the United States Army, fighting in numerous wars and culminating his career as a Union Army brigadier general of volunteers and brevet major general of volunteers in the American Civil War. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated...

    , Samuel W. Crawford
    Samuel W. Crawford
    Samuel Wylie Crawford was a United States Army surgeon and a Union general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    , and James S. Wadsworth
    James S. Wadsworth
    James Samuel Wadsworth was a philanthropist, politician, and a Union general in the American Civil War. He was killed in battle during the Battle of the Wilderness of 1864.-Early years:...

    .
  • VI Corps, under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick
    John Sedgwick
    John Sedgwick was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. He was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War, killed by a sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.-Early life:Sedgwick was born in the Litchfield Hills town of...

    , including the divisions of Brig. Gens. Horatio G. Wright, George W. Getty
    George W. Getty
    George Washington Getty was a career military officer in the United States Army, most noted for his role as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac during the final full year of the American Civil War....

    , and James B. Ricketts
    James B. Ricketts
    James Brewerton Ricketts was a career officer in the United States Army, serving as a Union Army general in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

    .
  • IX Corps, under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
    Ambrose Burnside
    Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

    , including the divisions of Brig. Gens. Thomas G. Stevenson
    Thomas G. Stevenson
    Thomas G. Stevenson was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was killed in action during the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.-Biography:...

    , Robert B. Potter, Orlando B. Willcox
    Orlando B. Willcox
    Orlando Bolivar Willcox was an American soldier who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    , and Edward Ferrero
    Edward Ferrero
    Edward Ferrero was one of the leading dance instructors, choreographers, and ballroom operators in the United States. He also served as a Union Army general in the American Civil War, best remembered for his role in the Battle of the Crater in 1864.-Early life and career:Ferrero was born in...

    .
  • Cavalry Corps, under Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, including the divisions of Brig. Gens. Alfred T.A. Torbert
    Alfred Thomas Torbert
    Alfred Thomas Archimedes Torbert was a career United States Army officer, a Union Army General commanding both infantry and cavalry forces in the American Civil War, and a U.S. diplomat.-Early life:...

    , David McM. Gregg, and James H. Wilson
    James H. Wilson
    James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

    .


Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia comprised about 64,000 men and 274 guns and was organized into four corps:
  • First Corps
    First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    The First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia was a military unit fighting for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. It was formed in early 1861 and served until the spring of 1865, mostly in the Eastern Theater. The corps was commanded by James Longstreet for much of its...

    , under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
    James Longstreet
    James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the...

    , including the divisions of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Field
    Charles W. Field
    Charles William Field was a career military officer, serving in the United States Army and then, during the American Civil War, in the Confederate States Army. His division was considered as one of the finest in the Army of Northern Virginia...

     and Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw
    Joseph B. Kershaw
    Joseph Brevard Kershaw was a lawyer, judge, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    .
  • Second Corps
    Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    The Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was a military organization within the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during much of the American Civil War. It was officially created and named following the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862, but comprised units in a corps organization for quite...

    , under Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell
    Richard S. Ewell
    Richard Stoddert Ewell was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general during the American Civil War. He achieved fame as a senior commander under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E...

    , including the divisions of Maj. Gens. Jubal A. Early, Edward "Allegheny" Johnson
    Edward Johnson (general)
    Edward Johnson , also known as Allegheny Johnson , was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    , and Robert E. Rodes
    Robert E. Rodes
    Robert Emmett Rodes was a railroad civil engineer and a promising young Confederate general in the American Civil War, killed in battle in the Shenandoah Valley.-Education, antebellum career:...

    .
  • Third Corps
    Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    The Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was a military organization within the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during much of the American Civil War. The corps was formed in mid-1863 and served until Lee's surrender April 9, 1865, near the end of the war.-Formation:After the death of...

    , under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, including the divisions of Maj. Gens. Richard H. Anderson
    Richard H. Anderson
    Richard Heron Anderson was a career U.S. Army officer, fighting with distinction in the Mexican-American War. He also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, fighting in the Eastern Theater of the conflict and most notably during the 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House...

    , Henry Heth
    Henry Heth
    Henry "Harry" Heth was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He is best remembered for inadvertently precipitating the Battle of Gettysburg, when he sent some of his troops of the Army of Northern Virginia to the small Pennsylvania village,...

    , and Cadmus M. Wilcox
    Cadmus M. Wilcox
    Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War and also was a Confederate general during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

    .
  • Cavalry Corps
    Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    The Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was the only organized cavalry corps in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Prior to the establishment of a formal corps, cavalry organization in the Confederacy consisted mostly of partisan ranger units and some battalions, a few...

    , under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart
    J.E.B. Stuart
    James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart was a U.S. Army officer from Virginia and a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War. He was known to his friends as "Jeb", from the initials of his given names. Stuart was a cavalry commander known for his mastery of reconnaissance and the use...

    , including the divisions of Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton
    Wade Hampton III
    Wade Hampton III was a Confederate cavalry leader during the American Civil War and afterward a politician from South Carolina, serving as its 77th Governor and as a U.S...

    , Fitzhugh Lee
    Fitzhugh Lee
    Fitzhugh Lee , nephew of Robert E. Lee, was a Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States Army general in the Spanish-American War.-Early life:...

    , and W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee
    William Henry Fitzhugh Lee
    William Henry Fitzhugh Lee , known as Rooney Lee or W.H.F. Lee, was the second son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph Custis. He was a planter, a Confederate cavalry General in the American Civil War, and later a member of the U.S. Congress.-Early life:Lee was born at Arlington House in...

    .

Disposition of forces and movement to battle


On May 4, 1864, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River
Rapidan River
The Rapidan River, flowing through north-central Virginia in the United States, is the largest tributary of the Rappahannock River. The two rivers converge just west of the city of Fredericksburg...

 at three separate points and converged on the Wilderness Tavern, near edge of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, an area of more than 70 mi2 of Spotsylvania County
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 90,395 people, 31,308 households, and 24,639 families residing in the county. The population density was 226 people per square mile . There were 33,329 housing units at an average density of 83 per square mile...

 and Orange County
Orange County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 25,881 people, 10,150 households, and 7,470 families residing in the county. The population density was 76 people per square mile . There were 11,354 housing units at an average density of 33 per square mile...

 in central Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Early settlers in the area had cut down the native forests to fuel blast furnaces that processed the iron ore found there, leaving only a secondary growth of dense shrubs. This rough terrain, which was virtually unsettled, was nearly impenetrable to 19th-century infantry and artillery maneuvers. A number of battles were fought in the vicinity between 1862 and 1864, including the bloody Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

 in May 1863. The Wilderness had been the concentration point for the Confederates one year earlier when Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

 launched his devastating attack on the Union right flank at Chancellorsville. But Grant chose to set up his camps to the west of the old battle site before moving southward; unlike the Union army of a year before, Grant had no desire to fight in the Wilderness, desiring to move to the open ground to the south and east of the Wilderness before fighting Lee, taking advantage of his superior numbers and artillery.
Grant's plan was for the V Corps (Warren) and VI Corps (Sedgwick) to cross the Rapidan at Germanna Ford, followed by the IX Corps (Burnside) after the supply trains had crossed at various fords, and to camp near Wilderness Tavern. The II Corps (Hancock) would cross to the east on Ely's Ford and advance to Spotsylvania Court House by way of Chancellorsville and Todd's Tavern. Speed was of the essence to the plan because the army was vulnerably stretched thin as it moved. Although Grant insisted that the army travel light with minimal artillery and supplies, its logistical "tail" was almost 70 miles. Sylvanus Cadwallader, a journalist with the Army of the Potomac, estimated that Meade's supply trains alone—which included 4,300 wagons, 835 ambulances, and a herd of cattle for slaughter—if using a single road would reach from the Rapidan to below Richmond. Grant gambled that Meade could move his army quickly enough to avoid being ensnared in the Wilderness, but Meade recommended that they camp overnight to allow the wagon train to catch up. Grant also miscalculated when he assumed that Lee was incapable of intercepting the Union army at its most vulnerable point, and Meade had not provided adequate cavalry coverage to warn of a Confederate movement from the west.

On May 2, Lee met with his generals on Clark Mountain, obtaining a panoramic view of the enemy camps. He realized that Grant was getting ready to attack, but did not know the precise route of advance. He correctly predicted that Grant would cross to the east of the Confederate fortifications on the Rapidan, using the Germanna and Ely Fords, but he could not be certain. To retain flexibility of response, Lee had dispersed his Army over a wide area. Longstreet's First Corps was around Gordonsville
Gordonsville, Virginia
Gordonsville is a town in Louisa and Orange counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. The population was 1,496 at the 2010 census.-History:Nathaniel Gordon purchased in 1787 and in 1794, or possibly earlier, applied for and was granted a license to operate a tavern...

, from where they had the flexibility to respond by railroad to potential threats to the Shenandoah Valley or to Richmond. Lee's headquarters and Hill's Third Corps were outside Orange Court House
Orange, Virginia
Orange is a town in Orange County, Virginia, United States. The population was 4,721 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Orange County...

. Ewell's Second Corps was the closest to the Wilderness, at Morton's Ford.
As Grant's plan became clear to Lee on May 4, Lee knew that it was imperative to fight in the Wilderness for the same reason as the year before: his army was massively outnumbered, with approximately 65,000 men to Grant's 120,000, and his artillery had fewer, inferior guns than those of Grant's. Fighting in the tangled woods would eliminate Grant's advantage in artillery, and also the close quarters and ensuing confusion there could give Lee's outnumbered force better odds. He therefore ordered his army to intercept the advancing Federals in the Wilderness. Ewell marched east on the Orange Court House Turnpike, reaching Robertson's Tavern, where they camped about 3–5 miles from the unsuspecting soldiers in Warren's corps. Hill used the Orange Plank Road and stopped at the hamlet of New Verdiersville. These two corps could pin the Union troops in place (ordered to avoid a general engagement until the entire army could be united), fighting outnumbered for at least a day while Longstreet approached from the southeast for a blow against the enemy's flank, similar to Jackson's at Chancellorsville.

The thick underbrush prevented the Union Army from recognizing the proximity of the Confederates. Adding to the confusion, Meade received an erroneous report that the Confederate cavalry under Jeb Stuart was operating in his Army's rear, in the direction of Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia located south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,286...

. He ordered the bulk of his cavalry to move east to deal with that perceived threat, leaving his army blind. But he assumed that the corps of Sedgwick, Warren, and Hancock could hold back any potential Confederate advance until the supply trains came up, at which time Grant could move forward to engage in a major battle with Lee, presumably at Mine Run.

May 5: Orange Turnpike


Early on May 5, Warren's V Corps was advancing over farm lanes toward the Plank Road when Ewell's Corps appeared in the west. Grant was notified of the encounter and instructed "If any opportunity presents itself of pitching into a part of Lee's army, do so without giving time for disposition." Meade halted his army and directed Warren to attack, assuming that the Confederates were a small, isolated group and not an entire infantry corps. Ewell's men erected earthworks on the western end of the clearing known as Saunders Field. Warren approached on the eastern end with the division of Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin on the right and the division of Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth on the left, but he hesitated to attack because the Confederate position extended beyond Griffin's right, which would mean that they would be subjected to enfilade
Enfilade and defilade
Enfilade and defilade are concepts in military tactics used to describe a military formation's exposure to enemy fire. A formation or position is "in enfilade" if weapons fire can be directed along its longest axis. A unit or position is "in defilade" if it uses natural or artificial obstacles to...

 fire. He requested a delay from Meade so that Sedgwick's VI Corps could be brought in on his right and extend his line. By 1 p.m., Meade was frustrated by the delay and ordered Warren to attack before Sedgwick could arrive.
Warren was correct to be concerned about his right flank. As the Union men advanced, Brig. Gen. Romeyn B. Ayres
Romeyn B. Ayres
Romeyn Beck Ayres was a Union Army general in the American Civil War.-Early life:Ayres was born at East Creek, New York, along the Mohawk River in Montgomery County. He was the son of a small-town doctor who urged all of his sons into professional careers...

's brigade had to take cover in a gully to avoid the enfilading fire. The brigade of Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Bartlett
Joseph J. Bartlett
Joseph Jackson Bartlett was a New York attorney, brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and postbellum international diplomat and pensions administrator for the United States Government. He was chosen to receive the stacked arms of General Robert E...

 made better progress to Ayres's left and overran the position of Brig. Gen. John M. Jones
John M. Jones
John Marshall Jones was a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg and was killed in action at the Battle of the Wilderness.-Early life:...

, who was killed. However, since Ayres's men were unable to advance, Bartlett's right flank was now exposed to attack and his brigade was forced to flee back across the clearing. Bartlett's horse was shot out from under him and he barely escaped capture.

To the left of Bartlett, the Iron Brigade
Iron Brigade
The Iron Brigade, also known as the Iron Brigade of the West or the Black Hat Brigade, was an infantry brigade in the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Although it fought entirely in the Eastern Theater, it was composed of regiments from Western states...

, commanded by Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler
Lysander Cutler
Lysander Cutler was an American businessman, educator, politician, and a Union Army General during the American Civil War.-Early years:Cutler was born in Royalston, Massachusetts, the son of a farmer...

, advanced through woods south of the field and struck a brigade of Alabamians commanded by Brig. Gen. Cullen A. Battle
Cullen A. Battle
Cullen Andrews Battle was an American attorney, politician, and general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

. Although initially pushed back, the Confederates counterattacked with the brigade of Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon, tearing through the line and forcing the Iron Brigade to flee for the first time in its history.
Further to the left, near the Higgerson farm, the brigades of Col. Roy Stone
Roy Stone
Roy Stone was a Union Army general during the American Civil War. He is most noted for his stubborn defense of the McPherson Farm during the Battle of Gettysburg.-Early life and family:...

 and Brig. Gen. James C. Rice attacked the brigades of Brig. Gen. George P. Doles
George P. Doles
George Pierce Doles was a Georgia businessman and Confederate general during the American Civil War. His men played a key role on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg in driving back the Union XI Corps.-Early life:...

's Georgians and Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel
Junius Daniel
Junius Daniel was a planter and career military officer, serving in the United States Army, then in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, as a brigadier general. His troops were instrumental in the Confederates' success at the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg...

's North Carolinians. Both attacks failed under heavy fire and Crawford ordered his men to pull back. Warren ordered an artillery section into Saunders Field to support his attack, but it was captured by Confederate soldiers, who were pinned down and prevented by rifle fire from moving the guns until darkness. In the midst of hand-to-hand combat at the guns, the field caught fire and men from both sides were shocked as their comrades burned to death.

The lead elements of Sedgwick's VI Corps reached Saunders Field at 3 p.m., by which time Warren's men had ceased fighting. Sedgwick attacked Ewell's line in the woods north of the Turnpike and both sides traded attacks and counterattacks that lasted about an hour before each disengaged to erect earthworks. During the fray, Confederate Brig. Gen. Leroy A. Stafford was felled with a severed spine, but continued to send his Louisiana troops into battle.

May 5: Orange Plank Road


Unable to duplicate the surprise that was achieved by Ewell on the Turnpike, A.P. Hill's approach was detected by Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford
Samuel W. Crawford
Samuel Wylie Crawford was a United States Army surgeon and a Union general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

's men from their position at the Chewning farm, and Meade ordered the VI Corps division of Brig. Gen. George W. Getty
George W. Getty
George Washington Getty was a career military officer in the United States Army, most noted for his role as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac during the final full year of the American Civil War....

 to defend the important intersection of the Orange Plank Road and the Brock Road. Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

, employing repeating carbines, succeeded in briefly delaying Hill's approach. Getty's men arrived just before Hill's and the two forces skirmished briefly, ending with Hill's men withdrawing a few hundred yards west of the intersection. A mile to the rear, Lee established his headquarters at the Widow Tapp's farm. Lee, Jeb Stuart, and Hill were meeting there when they were surprised by a party of Union soldiers entering the clearing. The three generals ran for safety and the Union men, who were equally surprised by the encounter, returned to the woods, unaware of how close they had come to changing the course of history. Meade sent orders to Hancock directing him to move his II Corps north to come to Getty's assistance.

By 4 p.m., initial elements of Hancock's corps were arriving and Meade ordered Getty to assault the Confederate line. As the Union men approached the position of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth
Henry Heth
Henry "Harry" Heth was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He is best remembered for inadvertently precipitating the Battle of Gettysburg, when he sent some of his troops of the Army of Northern Virginia to the small Pennsylvania village,...

, they were pinned down by fire from a shallow ridge to their front. As each II Corps division arrived, Hancock sent it forward to assist, bringing enough combat power to bear that Lee was forced to commit his reserves, the division commanded by Maj. Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox
Cadmus M. Wilcox
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War and also was a Confederate general during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

. Fierce fighting continued until nightfall with neither side gaining an advantage.

Plans for May 6


Grant's plan for the following day assumed that Hill's Corps was essentially spent and was a prime target. He ordered an early morning assault down the Orange Plank Road by the II Corps and Getty's division. At the same time, the V and a VI Corps were to resume assaults against Ewell's position on the Turnpike, preventing him from coming to Hill's aid, and Burnside's IX Corps was to move through the area between the Turnpike and the Plank Road and get into Hill's rear. If successful, Hill's Corps would be destroyed and then the full weight of the army could follow up and deal with Ewell's.

Although he was aware of the precarious situation on the Plank Road, rather than reorganizing his line, Lee chose to allow Hill's men to rest, assuming that Longstreet's Corps, now only 10 miles from the battlefield, would arrive in time to reinforce Hill before dawn. When that occurred, he planned to shift Hill to the left to cover some of the open ground between his divided forces. Longstreet calculated that he had sufficient time to allow his men, tired from marching all day, to rest and the First Corps did not resume marching until after midnight. Moving cross-country in the dark, they made slow progress and lost their way at times, and by sunrise had not reached their designated position.

May 6: Longstreet's attacks


As planned, Hancock's II Corps attacked Hill at 5 a.m., overwhelming the Third Corps with the divisions of Wadsworth, Birney, and Mott; Getty and Gibbon were in support. Ewell's men on the Turnpike had actually attacked first, at 4:45 a.m., but continued to be pinned down by attacks from Sedgwick's and Warren's corps and could not be relied upon for assistance. Lt. Col. William T. Poague's 16 guns at the Widow Tapp farm fired canister tirelessly, but could not stem the tide and Confederate soldiers streamed toward the rear. Before a total collapse, however, reinforcements arrived at 6 a.m., Brig. Gen. John Gregg
John Gregg
John Gregg may refer to:* John Gregg Anglican Archbishop of Armagh 1939–59* John Gregg , founder of Greggs bakery* John Gregg , Anglican Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, 1862–78...

's 800-man Texas Brigade
Texas Brigade
The Texas Brigade, also often referred to as Hood's Brigade, was an infantry brigade in the Confederate States Army that distinguished itself for its fierce tenacity and fighting capability during the American Civil War.-Organization:...

, the vanguard of Longstreet's column. General Lee, relieved and excited, waved his hat over his hand and shouted, "Texans always move them!" Caught up in the excitement, Lee began to move forward with the advancing brigade. As the Texans realized this, they halted, refusing to move forward until Lee moved to the rear, grabbing the reins of Lee's horse, Traveller
Traveller (horse)
Traveller was Confederate General Robert E. Lee's most famous horse during the American Civil War.-Birth and war service:...

. Longstreet was able to convince Lee that he had matters well in hand and the commanding general relented.
Longstreet counterattacked with the divisions of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Field
Charles W. Field
Charles William Field was a career military officer, serving in the United States Army and then, during the American Civil War, in the Confederate States Army. His division was considered as one of the finest in the Army of Northern Virginia...

 on the left and Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw
Joseph B. Kershaw
Joseph Brevard Kershaw was a lawyer, judge, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 on the right. The Union troops, somewhat disorganized from their assault earlier that morning, could not resist and fell back a few hundred yards from the Widow Tapp farm. The Texans leading the charge north of the road fought gallantly at a heavy price—only 250 of the 800 men emerged unscathed. At 10 a.m., Longstreet's chief engineer reported that he had explored an unfinished railroad bed south of the Plank Road and that it offered easy access to the Union left flank. Longstreet assigned his aide, Lt. Col. Moxley Sorrel
Moxley Sorrel
Gilbert Moxley Sorrel was a Confederate States Army officer and historian of the Confederacy.-Early life:Sorrel was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of one of the wealthiest men in the city, Francis Sorrel. He was the brother-in-law of William W...

, to the task of leading four fresh brigades along the railroad bed for a surprise attack. Sorrel and the senior brigade commander, Brig. Gen. William Mahone
William Mahone
William Mahone was a civil engineer, teacher, soldier, railroad executive, and a member of the Virginia General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Small of stature, he was nicknamed "Little Billy"....

, struck at 11 a.m. Hancock wrote later that the flanking attack rolled up his line "like a wet blanket." At the same time, Longstreet resumed his main attack, driving Hancock's men back to the Brock Road, and mortally wounding Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth
James S. Wadsworth
James Samuel Wadsworth was a philanthropist, politician, and a Union general in the American Civil War. He was killed in battle during the Battle of the Wilderness of 1864.-Early years:...

.

Longstreet rode forward on the Plank Road with several of his officers and encountered some of Mahone's men returning from their successful attack. The Virginians believed the mounted party were Federals and opened fire, wounding Longstreet severely in his neck and killing a brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins
Micah Jenkins
Micah Jenkins , was a Confederate general in the American Civil War, mortally wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of the Wilderness.-Early life:...

. Longstreet was able to turn over his command directly to Charles Field and told him to "Press the enemy." However, the Confederate line fell into confusion and before a vigorous new assault could be organized, Hancock's line had stabilized behind earthworks at the Brock Road. The following day, Lee appointed Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson
Richard H. Anderson
Richard Heron Anderson was a career U.S. Army officer, fighting with distinction in the Mexican-American War. He also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, fighting in the Eastern Theater of the conflict and most notably during the 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House...

 to temporary command of the First Corps. Longstreet did not return to the Army of Northern Virginia until October 13. (By coincidence, he was accidentally shot by his own men only about 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the place where Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

 suffered the same fate a year earlier.)

May 6: Gordon's attacks


At the Turnpike, inconclusive fighting proceeded for most of the day. Early in the morning, Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon scouted the Union line and recommended to his division commander, Jubal Early, that he conduct a flanking attack, but Early dismissed the venture as too risky. According to Gordon's account after the war, General Lee visited Ewell and ordered him to approve Gordon's plan, but other sources discount Lee's personal intervention. In any event, Ewell authorized him to go ahead shortly before dark. Gordon's attack made good progress against inexperienced New York troops who had spent the war up until this time manning the artillery defenses of Washington, D.C., but eventually the darkness and the dense foliage took their toll as the Union flank received reinforcements and recovered. Sedgwick's line was extended overnight to the Germanna Plank Road. For years after the war, Gordon complained about the delay in approving his attack, claiming "the greatest opportunity ever presented to Lee's army was permitted to pass."

Reports of the collapse of this part of the Union line caused great consternation at Grant's headquarters, leading to an interchange that is widely quoted in Grant biographies. An officer accosted Grant, proclaiming, "General Grant, this is a crisis that cannot be looked upon too seriously. I know Lee's methods well by past experience; he will throw his whole army between us and the Rapidan, and cut us off completely from our communications." Grant seemed to be waiting for such an opportunity and snapped, "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do."

May 7


On the morning of May 7, Grant was faced with the prospect of attacking strong Confederate earthworks. Instead, he chose maneuver. By moving south on the Brock Road, he hoped to reach the crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House, which would interpose his army between Lee and Richmond, forcing Lee to fight on ground more advantageous to the Union army. He ordered preparations for a night march on May 7 that would reach Spotsylvania, 10 mi (16 km) to the southeast, by the morning of May 8. Unfortunately for Grant, inadequate cavalry screening and bad luck allowed Lee's army to reach the crossroads before sufficient Union troops arrived to contest it. Once again faced with formidable earthworks, Grant fought the bloody Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania , was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged...

 (May 8–21) before maneuvering yet again as the campaign continued toward Richmond.

Aftermath



Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic
Strategy
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

 victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant's forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee's smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant's strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861 Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant's advance was noted by James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book...

:

Casualties


Estimates of the casualties in the Wilderness vary. The following table summarizes estimates from a number of sources:
Casualty Estimates for the Battle of the Wilderness
Source Union Confederate
Killed Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total Killed Wounded Captured/
Missing
Total
National Park Service       18,400       11,400
Bonekemper, Victor, Not a Butcher 2,246 12,037 3,383 17,666 1,495 7,928 1,702 11,125
Catton, Grant Takes Command 2,265 10,220 2,902 15,387        
Eicher, Longest Night 2,246 12,037 3,383 17,666       7,750–11,400
Esposito, West Point Atlas       15,000–18,000       c. 7,500
Foote, Civil War       17,666       7,800
Fox, Regimental Losses 2,246 12,037 3,383 17,666        
McPherson, Battle Cry       17,500       under 10,500
Rhea, Battle of the Wilderness       over 17,666       about 11,000
Smith, Grant 2,261 8,785 2,902 13,948        


Gordon C. Rhea acknowledges the officially reported Union casualties of 17,666, but suspects that some of the returns—particularly in Warren's corps—were falsified on the low side, to minimize the negative impact of the battle on the public. He estimates Grant's loss at 17%. He accepts Union estimates of 11,000 Confederate casualties.

Battlefield preservation



Portions of the Wilderness battlefield are preserved as part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and elsewhere in Spotsylvania County, commemorating four major battles in the American Civil War.-Park:...

, established in 1927 to memorialize the battlefields of Fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside...

, Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

, Spotsylvania Court House
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania , was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged...

, and the Wilderness. In addition to this land that has been protected by the National Park Service, several volunteer organizations have been active in preservation activities. The Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield have been active in helping to preserve and enhance the Ellwood Mansion, which was the headquarters for both Gouverneur K. Warren
Gouverneur K. Warren
Gouverneur Kemble Warren was a civil engineer and prominent general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 and Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

 during the battle and the family cemetery there holds the plot where Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

's arm was buried. While the NPS acquired 180 acre (73 ha) of Ellwood in the 1970s, the FOWB is responsible for the preservation of the 1790s-era house and its interpretation.

The Civil War Trust in 2008 began a campaign to prevent the development of a 138000 sq ft (3 acre; 12,821 m²) Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

 Supercenter on a 55 acres (22 ha) tract north of the intersection of Routes 3 (the Germanna Highway) and 20 (the Orange Turnpike), immediately across Route 3 from the National Military Park, near the site of the Wilderness Tavern. Other organizations supporting the campaign were the Vermont state legislature and the "Wilderness Battlefield Coalition", which includes the Piedmont Environmental Council
Piedmont Environmental Council
Piedmont Environmental Council is a Virginia organization devoted to promoting and protecting the Piedmont area's rural economy, natural resources, history, and beauty....

, the National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is an American member-supported organization that was founded in 1949 by congressional charter to support preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods through a range of programs and activities, including the publication of Preservation...

, the National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association
The National Parks Conservation Association is the only independent, membership organization devoted exclusively to advocacy on behalf of the National Parks System...

, Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, and Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. The campaign was a success: on January 26, 2011, Wal-Mart announced that it had canceled plans for the Supercenter in the disputed location.

In popular culture



In the alternate history novel The Guns of the South
The Guns of the South
The Guns of the South is an alternate history novel set during the American Civil War by Harry Turtledove.The story deals with a group of time-travelling Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging members who supply Robert E...

, the Battle of the Wilderness was an overwhelming Confederate victory, which led to the Confederate capture of Washington city and full recognition of the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 as an independent nation.

During the Civil War Centennial
American Civil War Centennial
The American Civil War Centennial was the official United States commemoration of the American Civil War, also known as the War Between the States...

, the United States Post Office issued five postage stamps commemorating the 100th anniversaries of famous battles, as they occurred over a four-year period, beginning with the Battle of Fort Sumter
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On...

 Centennial issue of 1961. The Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and...

 commemorative stamp was issued in 1962, the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

 in 1963, the Battle of the Wilderness in 1964, and the Appomattox Centennial commemorative stamp in 1965.

Further reading

  • Alexander, Edward P.
    Edward Porter Alexander
    Edward Porter Alexander was an engineer, an officer in the U.S. Army, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, and later a railroad executive, planter, and author....

     Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander. Edited by Gary W. Gallagher. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. ISBN 0-8078-4722-4.
  • Bearss, Edwin C.
    Ed Bearss
    Edwin Cole Bearss , a United States Marine Corps veteran of World War II, is a military historian and author known for his work on the American Civil War and World War II eras and is a popular tour guide of historic battlefields...

     Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2006. ISBN 0-7922-7568-3.
  • Carmichael, Peter S., ed. Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8071-2929-1.
  • Frassanito, William A. Grant and Lee: The Virginia Campaigns 1864–1865. New York: Scribner, 1983. ISBN 0-684-17873-7.
  • Gallagher, Gary W., ed. The Wilderness Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8078-2334-1.
  • Grant, Ulysses S.
    Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

     Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. 2 vols. Charles L. Webster & Company, 1885–86. ISBN 0-914427-67-9.
  • King, Curtis S., William Glenn Robertson, and Steven E. Clay. Staff Ride Handbook for the Overland Campaign, Virginia, 4 May to 15 June 1864: A Study in Operational-Level Command. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2006. .
  • Longstreet, James
    James Longstreet
    James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the...

    . From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of the Civil War in America. New York: Da Capo Press, 1992. ISBN 0-3068-0464-6. First published in 1896 by J. B. Lippincott and Co.
  • Lyman, Theodore. With Grant and Meade: From the Wilderness to Appomattox. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8032-7935-3.
  • Power, J. Tracy. Lee's Miserables: Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8078-2392-9.

External links