Tricounty News

This Week in the American Civil War: June 1-7, 1864

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday, June 1, 1864

COLD HARBOR CAMPAIGN BEGINS

As Federal infantry arrived in the Cold Harbor area of Virginia near the 1862 Seven Days battlefields around Richmond, they found that the Confederates had already arrived. Confederate Major General Richard H. Anderson’s corps attacked Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry near Old Cold Harbor in the morning, and the two assaults were repulsed. Major General Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps relieved Sheridan by midmorning. Major General William F. Smith’s 18th Corps was delayed and did not arrive until late afternoon. Wright and Smith pressed an assault at 6 p.m. but Confederate resistance stiffened, forcing the two Federal corps to entrench in their advanced position. Federal Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps was ordered to hold the south end of the line. During the night, both sides continued to entrench.

In Georgia, Federal cavalry under Major General George Stoneman captured Allatoona Pass, an all-important railroad link to Chattanooga, which enabled Major General William T. Sherman to advance his railhead closer to the fighting lines.

Thursday, June 2, 1864

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s plans for an attack upon Confederate General Robert E. Lee, originally set for the morning hours, was pushed back until 5 p.m. to account for troop movements, ammunition problems and fatigue issues. Sharp skirmishes erupted during the morning of a very hot day that ended with rain in the evening. The attack was postponed for a day as both armies continued to entrench and make preparations. Many of the privates fashioned crude “dog tags” during the night in case they should fall the next day.

Action flared at Acworth and Raccoon Bottom, Ga., as Federal Major General William T. Sherman shifted his three armies northeastward towards Allatoona and the Chattanooga-Atlanta Railroad.

Friday, June 3, 1864

BATTLE OF COLD HARBOR

The rain ceased and dawn approached at Cold Harbor, Va. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was lined up behind strong fortifications from the Chickahominy River on the south to the swamps along Totopotomoy Creek on the north. At 4:30 a.m. amid cheers and rapid musket fire, three Federal corps, led by Major Generals Winfield Scott Hancock, Horatio Wright and William F. Smith crashed headlong into two well entrenched Confederate corps led by Major General Richard H. Anderson and Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill. Further to the north, Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s corps withstood attacks by two Federal corps under Major Generals Ambrose Burnside and Gouverneur K. Warren. By 12:30 p.m. the assault had failed and Federal corps commanders refused to push their troops in for another attack.

The battle at Cold Harbor was a costly one for both sides. For the Confederates, General Robert E. Lee was unable to put any of his troops into reserve. If they failed to hold the line, the war in Virginia could have ended. Of the 59,000 Confederates pushed into battle, 788 were killed, 3,376 wounded and 1,123 captured or missing for an aggregate total of 5,287. Federal losses were much greater with 1,844 killed, 9,077 wounded and 1,816 missing for a total of 12,737 of 108,000 engaged.

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant later wrote, “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made – At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”

Saturday, June 4, 1864

At Cold Harbor, Va., the Federal Army of the Potomac and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia lay entrenched, often only yards apart. In between the lines were thousands of bodies of dead and wounded.

In a rainstorm in Georgia, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston shifted his Army of Tennessee during the night from the New Hope Church area outside of Atlanta, to the north along Lost, Pine and Brush Mountains. Again, he got in front of Federal Major General William T. Sherman before the Federals could complete their move. Fighting took place at Big Shanty and Acworth during the day.

Skirmishing took place elsewhere at Port Republic and Harrisonburg, Va.; Panther Gap, W.V.; Ossabaw Sound, Ga.; and at Hudson’s Crossing on the Neosho River in Indian Territory.

Sunday, June 5, 1864

Confederates under Brigadier General William E. “Grumble” Jones moved to stop Federal Major General David Hunter’s raid in the Shenandoah Valley. With about 5,600 men, Jones met Hunter’s main force of 8,500 Federals at Piedmont, seven miles southwest of Port Republic, Va. Charges and countercharges lasted until mid-afternoon, when Federal infantry and cavalry routed the Southern troops. Federals lost 780 men and Confederates lost around 1,600 including Jones, who was killed. About 1,000 of the Confederate casualties were soldiers who were captured.

In Georgia, Federal Major General William T. Sherman was shifting northeast towards the Chattanooga-Atlanta Railroad and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s new line was on the mountains in front of Marietta. Skirmishing broke out at Acworth and Pine Mountain.

In Virginia, Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant proposed to Confederate General Robert E. Lee for a truce in order that both sides could tend to their wounded and bury their dead at Cold Harbor.

Discussion in Washington centered upon who President Abraham Lincoln would select as his running-mate. Many believed that Hannibal Hamlin would be dropped in favor of a war-minded Democrat to create a unified ticket.

Monday, June 6, 1864

Federal Major General William T. Sherman continued to shift his position in Georgia to face Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s entrenchments near Marietta.

Federal troops under Major General David Hunter occupied Staunton, Va., an important operational center in the Shenandoah Valley.

Tuesday, June 7, 1864

Delegates to the National Union Convention, representing most Republicans and some War Democrats, gathered in Baltimore to nominate a candidate for President of the United States. Their support for President Abraham Lincoln was almost unanimous. Open to possible question was the vice-presidential nomination. The day was devoted mainly to the usual preliminaries with the nomination scheduled for the next day.

Federal troops under Major General Samuel Davis Sturgis skirmished with Confederates at Ripley, Miss., as the Union expedition headed into Mississippi in search of the elusive Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of June 1-7, 1864

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry - On duty at White House Landing, New Kent County, Va.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty around Dallas, Ga., during Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Ark., until Oct. 10, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Ala., until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – En route to Memphis, Tenn., for duty.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Ky., until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the battle at Ripley, Miss., in Sturgis’s pursuit of Forrest.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies E and D were on duty at Island No. 10 until June 15, 1864. The remaining companies were on duty around Columbus, Ky., until June 19, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry - On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until June 28, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry - Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie. Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina. Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war - until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Moved to Rome, Ga., via Clifton, Tenn.; Huntsville and Decatur, Ala.; and Big Shanty, Ga. arriving on June 9, 1864, to join the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tenn., where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery - On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I - Now detached from the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, in camp at Stevensburg, Va., awaiting the arrival of the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry at the end of May 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Battle of Cold Harbor.

Inactive units:

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on Dec. 7, 1863. Inactive.

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive.