James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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    As a result of one month’s fighting, Grant had by June 2 advanced a considerable distance into Virginia, reaching the ground which one wing of McClellan’s army had occupied in May and June, 1862. He took up a position near the scene of Fitz-John Porter’s gallant fight of Gaines’s Mill and almost in sight of the spires of the Confederate capital. Lee, about six miles from the exterior fortifications of Richmond, held a position naturally strong, which by intrenchments he had made practically impregnable. On the supposition that flanking movements were impracticable, Grant, with unjustifiable precipitation, ordered an assault in front. This was made at 4:30 in the morning of June 3, and is known as the battle of Cold Harbor—the greatest blemish on his reputation as a general. The attack, which had at first been ordered for the afternoon of the 2d, was postponed till the morrow; this gave officers and men a chance to chew upon it, and both knew that the undertaking was hopeless. Horace Porter, one of Grant’s aides, related that when walking among the troops on staff duty the evening before the battle he noticed many soldiers of one of the regiments, designated for the assault, pinning on the backs of their coats slips of paper on which were written their names and home addresses so that their dead bodies might be recognized on the field and their fate be known to their families at the North.  14   The soldiers sprang promptly to the assault. The experience of Hancock’s corps, the Second, will suffice as an epitome of the action. In about twenty-two minutes its repulse was complete. It had “lost over 3000 of its bravest and best, both of officers and men.” 1 The total casualties in the Union Army were probably 7000. Grant regretted the attack. “No advantage whatever,” he wrote, “was
Note 1. XXXVI, Pt. i, 367. [back]