Early on May 21, Hancock began a march eastward, screened by a slapdash collection of cavalry under Alfred A.
Around nine o'clock in the morning, Torbert's men encountered Confederate infantry traveling north, alerting Lee of the movement. Lee assumed that Grant was attempting to flank him and ordered his own infantry east with orders to concentrate north of Hanover Junction along the highly defensible banks of the North Anna River. Lee's quick reaction put Grant in a bind. He had not expected the entire Army of Northern Virginia to take off after the lone Second Corps, but he had no choice but to react to his Confederate counterpart.
Grant was hardly the first general to lose the initiative to Lee. By midnight on May 21, both armies were in motion toward the southeast. Fighting began on May Lee had arranged his lines in an inverted V—shaped entrenchment with the apex protecting Ox Ford across the North Anna River. To his left, Union troops could cross at a shallow part of the river near Jericho Mill, while on his right Chesterfield Bridge provided an opportune crossing spot.
Nevertheless, Lee's line remained strong because crossing would force Grant to divide his forces, while Lee could shift men efficiently along the interior lines of the V—shape. Warren managed to cross the river at Jericho Mill, while the Union Second Corps brushed aside defenders on the north side of the river at Chesterfield Bridge. The stage was set for the next day's fighting. On May 24, Union forces roamed around the south side of the North Anna River, initially encountering little to no resistance. Hancock's Second Corps moved across the river at Chesterfield Bridge and confronted little opposition.
Union spirits ran high in hopes that Lee had left the area. Those spirits fell when, at three o'clock, Hancock's troops ran into Confederates near Hanover Junction on Lee's right. At first, Union general John Gibbon thought little of these forces, and kept feeding in men in an attempt to brush them out of his way.
It soon became apparent, however, that these were not stragglers but members of Lee's army. A similar situation prevailed at Ox Ford, where Union troops launched a futile assault against Confederate entrenchments. Confronted by strong Confederate positions, Union forces ceased their attacks.
On May 25, Grant set his troops to work tearing up rail lines and damaging Confederate infrastructure. After the rather low-intensity fighting, Grant once again decided to move east on the evening of May 26 and morning of May Some Confederates maintained after the war that illness had prevented Lee from ordering an attack to annihilate the Union Second Corps. In Lee's Lieutenants — , the historian Douglas Southall Freeman wrote of Lee's "intestinal ailment that had the usual effect of sharpening his temper and shaking his control of it.
Hill , for not attacking in the tradition of Thomas J. Contemporary evidence fails to support the idea that Lee's health affected the battle; however, the Confederate high command clearly was not itself. Lee's most trusted lieutenant, James Longstreet , had been wounded earlier in the month at the Battle of the Wilderness. Like Lee, Hill was ill. And the Second Corps commander, Richard S. Ewell , had lost Lee's trust at Spotsylvania and was about to be transferred to Richmond. Regardless of why Lee seemed content to rest inside his entrenchments, Grant took the fact to mean that the Army of Northern Virginia was on its last legs; his strategy of wearing down the Confederate force had worked.
This supposition would bear bitter fruit for the Army of the Potomac a week later at the bloody Battle of Cold Harbor. Battle of North Anna. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 29 Nov. Thanks to your advocacy efforts on our behalf, we're happy to report that the recently passed Omnibus Spending Bill includes a very small increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities!
While our work is not over with regards to the upcoming budget to be passed in the fall, the Omnibus Spending Bill represents an endorsement of the important work that the humanities do for our communities. These funds will continue to support our work of providing free access to authoritative content about Virginia's history and culture. The move is part of a plan by Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant to lure Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia out of its trenches by exposing a single corps as bait.
May 21, , Torbert, who proceeds to screen, or hide, the Union march from the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. May 21, , 6 a. May 21, , 9 a. Torbert's cavalry encounters Confederate infantry at Milford Station. These Confederate troops are part of General George E.
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Pickett's division, which is making its way northward to join the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee determines that Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant is once again attempting to move the bulk of his army beyond the Confederate right flank. Lee orders Richard S. Ewell's division to begin a march to counter Grant. May 21, , 10 a.
Lee's dispatches, Ulysses S. Grant sees that Lee has moved more quickly, and in greater force, than he anticipated. Accordingly, Grant sends General Gouverneur K. Lee orders George E. Joined Mar 3, Messages 10, Location Chicagoland. The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. Here at the Ox Ford portion of the battlefield, Confederates turned back Federal attacks of May , A six-mile walking trail features interpretive signs that detail the events of the battle.
Trench works and rifle pits from the battle are located on the acre property and are considered some of the most pristine examples of earthworks in existence. Dom71 Sergeant Jun 12, I s that the Church where the famous photos of Grant and his Officers are sitting in the pews outside? That famous photo containing Grant and his staff was captured at the Massaponax Church just outside of Spotsylvania, Virginia. I love the descriptions on those plaques put up by the commonwealth of Virginia.
Freddy 2nd Lieutenant Dec 21, Thanks for the photos. I walked the battlefield several years back with my AK prosthesis. Not an easy task. My great grandfather was captured on May 24, near Ox Ford during General Ledlie's insane attack. Lounged about under orders to be ready to move at once until 1: It was warm and dusty.
One mile brought us to the North Anna River. This we forded water hip deep, the bottom of the river rough and rocky, the current strong. Swung our haversacks heavy with 3 days rations and our cartridge boxes over our heads and shoulders. Some were unlucky enough to get upset and came near getting drowned. After crossing our brigade was formed in battle line.
Our regiment deployed as skirmishers, and led the advance through a thick fine wood, ravines and rough places in plenty with here and there an open space, going some of the way at double quick time. We soon met the rebel picket line which fell back at our advance saluting us at the first with a few stray shots, a half a mile or more brought us to an open field beyond which we could see the rebel breastworks, batteries and infantry in battle line.
Halted until our brigade came up when a general attack was made upon the rebel line in our front with the result of driving them through the wood and across a ravine some eight feet deep and back to their main line.
Continuing the advance we were met with such a shower of shell, grape, and cannister combined with a sudden downpour of rain that our little were broken and orders were given to fall back to breastwork which our reserves had thrown up in our rear. In the scrimmage our regiment line was broken up as we fell back through the woods. Suddenly found myself alone with three of our 35th and the main body of the 56th. Going up to General Leddlie, I asked for the whereabouts of the 35th.
He said they were all mixed up with the other regiments and I had better go in with 56th.
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Joined them and tried to find some of the 35th, but in vain, and soon concluded that the place for me was with my own regiment and started back to the river. Soon came upon Captain Hudson, and Company H who were doing picket duty on the left.
The Battle of North Anna
He did not know where the rest of the regiment was. We stopped to give a wounded man some water. I got separated and found myself alone and mid the rain, mist and wood began to be in doubt as to the line of retreat when I came upon Lt. Creasy, and two other staff officers chatting unconcernedly and so felt all right and kept on coming out to open field when I came upon a line of skirmishers lying upon the ground. Then to suddenly realize that death or surrender was my alternative and with a feeling of shame and mortification, threw down my gun which I had hoped to carry home with scar of rebel bullet received at Jackson, Mississippi as a memorandum of the war.
Was humiliated to find myself alone of the 35th at first but not for long, for soon came in the three staff officers, and five comrades of the 35th. Were marched about a mile to Andersons station where we found more of wearers of the blue and by night we numbered about Our guards treated us well. Fine morning and with the opening day three more of the 35th were brought in making nine of us.
North Anna Battlefield Park | American Civil War Forums
As the day grew, it became warmer and we were taken into a wood where it was cool and comfortable. They were in the main good solid looking men, well clothed, many having on some part of United States Uniform. Were free to talk with us. At near 3 p.