Monday, May 19, 2014

Battle of Spotsylvania – Harris Farm

Confederate dead from May 19th
After his unsuccessful attack the previous day, Ulysses S. Grant decided to cease his efforts at Spotsylvania, and instead shift the army southeast. But before he could do that the Confederates went on the offensive. Robert E. Lee ordered Ewell on the right to locate the Union right. Ewell took most of two divisions to do this. Fighting broke out around the Harris farm, and darkness brought an end to the combat. That night Lee recalled Ewell, as he did not want to undertake a general engagement at that place, where Ewell could not be supported by the rest of the army.

Fallen Confederates
This fight signaled the end of the Battle of Spotsylvania. The casualties from this long and desperate battle were heavy. The Federals lost about 18,000 men, the Confederates 10,000 – 12,000. These casualties hit the Federal army had. The losses from Wilderness and Spotsylvania, combined with the loss of 20,000 men whose enlistments expired, left the Federals with half the number of effective troops as had started the campaign. The losses were even heavier on the Confederates. At Spotsylvania Lee lost about 23% of his army. Those were men the Confederacy may not be able to replace, and the casualty numbers would only grow as the Overland Campaign rolled on.  

Confederate soldier, shot in the knee and shoulder


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