May 21st the opposing lines across from Hill's men seemed unusually quiet.
Lee had received intelligence that part of Grant's army was moving south,
and he had dispatched part of his forces to block them. Now it appeared the
entire Union army was gone, and after confirming, Lee put Hill's Corps on
the march again about nine that evening. Lee was now convinced the Grant
was going to try to cross the North Anna River at Hanover Junction.
Sunday May 22nd was a beautiful sunny day, the first in nearly two weeks. Constant rain had made the Spotsylvania battle even more miserable than most, and the roads were thick in mud. By early morning, the first of Lee's troops, Ewell's Corps had moved into Hanover Junction. Now it was a waiting game to see what Grant would do. Grant, with an overwhelming numerical advantage, tried to keep Lee off guard by having his corps approach the river at different locations. Early that morning, Lee himself investigated reports of a possible crossing at Jericho Mills, but had decided it was a ruse by Grant. He had ordered Hill to leave his men in camp, 3 miles away at Anderson's Station. Lee was concerned, but convinced Grant would cross farther south and east.
1 pm, factions of General Governeur Warren's 5th Corps began crossing the
river near Jericho Mill. Within a few hours, they were discovered by the
1st South Carolina Rifle's who gave the advancing Federal's a momentary fire
fight. Warren, with his forces split on either side of the river, and with
the pontoon bridges not yet complete, trapping his artillery on the north
bank, was nervous. Hill, upon receiving word of Warren's situation, saw a
chance to strike a devastating blow against his enemy. By 4:30 pm, Cadmus
Wilcox's Division, including Thomas' Georgian's were marching to intercept.
At that very moment, Union artillery began crossing the river on the completed
The next morning, Hill's men had retreated. Private August Sesier of the 140th New York wrote of the Confederate dead on the battlefield "Miserably clad and dirty, resembling skeletons, the bodies look more like lumps of flesh than human beings. Oh mankind, why doest thou destroy thyself?"...My heart is bleeding and yet perhaps I myself helped to kill.'
Official Report was short and to the point "May 23.--General Cutler's division
leading, got off promptly at 5 a.m. Reached forks, where one road goes to
the ford and one to the bridge, at 9 a.m. Cavalry skirmishing a little in
advance. A deserter says it is Rosser's cavalry; says there is artillery
and infantry on the other side. Turned back to give that road to Hancock
and got possession of crossing at a mill at l p.m. By 3.10 p.m. General Griffin's
division had nearly all forded, and at 3.10 bridge train began to arrive.
About 4.30 bridge was completed and last of General Cutler's division crossed.
About 6 a.m. enemy assaulted us. My right gave way and the artillery drove
back the enemy. We repulsed them everywhere."
35th Georgia Index