The first clash between Grant and Lee and the first major battle for
their armies after Gettysburg began 11 months of nearly continuous combat that will decide the war in Virginia. Grant told Meade, “Lee’s army will be your objective. Where Lee goes, there you will go
also.” The first collision was in
the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864. For two days the armies grappled in the dense
thickets and tangled undergrowth. The
fighting ended in a ghastly, fiery stalemate.
Unlike his predecessors, Grant ignored them, heading south to follow
Lee toward the ultimate goal of Richmond. Grant’s soldiers cheered. They knew there was no turning back as had
happened with previous commanders.
those who were there, the tumultuous Battle
of Spotsylvania Court House May 8 – 21, 1764, embodied all the horrors of
civil war. Both armies raced toward the
vital crossroads at Spotsylvania which controlled the most direct route to
Richmond. Lee arrived first on May 8th
and narrowly beat back Union attackers. The Confederates built a bulging line at the Mule Shoe salient. Union attacks test the Confederate line for
several days. On May 12, Grant struck the tip of the Mule Shoe and broke through.
Lee’s Confederates counterattacked and for the next 22 hours the two
sides locked in the war’s most intense hand-to-hand combat. So concentrated was the firing that bullets
cut down a large oak tree, leaving only a stump. This desperate fighting raged over a bend in
the Confederate trenches called the Bloody
Angle. Lee bought enough time to
build a new line of earth-works, which he held until Grant abandoned the field
At Spotsylvania, Grant sought a decisive battlefield victory, but Lee
skillfully denied him. Still the Federals constant hammering took its toll on
dwindling Confederate resources. What
began in the Wilderness and Spotsylvania continued on the North Anna River, Cold
Harbor, Richmond, Petersburg, and finally, Appomattox Court House.
Sights we will see: Spotsylvania Battlefield Exhibit Shelter,
Upton’s Road, Bloody Angle, Hancock Road, Harrison House, McCoull House Site,
the Salient, Heth’s Salient, Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery and Massaponax
Our guide: Frank
O’Reilly, NPS, historian, speaker and author. A graduate of Washington
& Lee, Frank has been with the NPS for 27 years, in Philadelphia and
Fredericksburg where he is the historical consultant for the city. He is a celebrated author and has written articles in a vast
number of publications. He has appear in television documentaries and is an
acknowledged speaker to audiences around the world.
price of the field trip is $95. This
includes round-trip deluxe motor-coach transportation from Hummelstown, Lower
Dauphin High School, at 5:30 a.m.,
and the Camp Hill Radisson, at 6:00
a.m., driver-tip, admission fees and guide.
A box lunch is included. Dinner will be on your own at a restaurant on
the return trip.
To register, complete the form below and
mail it to Sheldon Munn, Harrisburg CWRT Field Trip, 1483 Maplewood
Drive, New Cumberland, PA 17070. Your
$25 deposit will hold your seat, with the balance due by October 1, 2014. Cancellations received before Oct 1, 2014
will receive a full refund. Cancellations after Oct 1, will receive refund ONLY
if the open seat has been filled by another person. Check payable to HBG CWRT. Questions/information to Sheldon
Munn 717.770.0235 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org