did get to Spotsylvania before Grant, his first troops arriving on the 9th.
By the next day, Hill's men moved to cover Lee's right flank. The shape of
Lee's Army was similar to an upside down V. It would be at the crest of this
V, where some of the most vicious hand to hand combat of the entire war would
take place. Very little research, and or published works have been done on
this battle, without the vast majority of their emphasis being placed on
what would become "the Bloody Angle".
On May the 10th, Grant would probe the entire Confederate line, looking for
a weak spot, while he waited for his entire Army to arrive. Wilcox's four
regiments were spread thinly over a mile and a quarter front, and on Lee's
far right. To their immediate front was the IX Corps under General Ambrose
Burnside. Small skirmishes and pitched battles broke out during the afternoon,
but Union forces made no further aggressive moves against Wilcox's men. On
the other side of the V though, Lee's Army was hit with units of the 2nd,
5th, and 6th Union Corps. That evening Col Emery Upton of the Union Army
led a nearly successful attack against the salient of the Confederate "V"
shaped force, and Grant felt he had found Lee's weakest area.
of Spotsylvania from Union line, near Beverly House. Here is where Burnside's
men faced off with Hill's men, including the 35th Georgia. While there was
some fighting here, most of the fighting took place to the right of this
the day, May 11th, Grant shifted his forces. The Confederate forces spent
the day strengthening their fortifications. Lee was nearly convinced that
Grant was retreating, but he kept his men in position waiting to see. He
didn't have long to wait to decide he was wrong.
The next morning, shortly after 4:30 am, Grant attacked. The primary focus
of his attack would come against the apex, and it would be this day's action
that would earn the small site the nickname of the "Bloody Angle". On the
right of the convex, Burnside attacked. While Grant had intended this to
be part of the all out attack on Lee, Burnside, whether unknowingly, or trying
to excuse his lack of success afterwards, stated his primary mission was
to keep Lee's men tied up so they could not offer further support to the
angle. And while this action gets very little attention, it was a very bloody
Hancock's forces attacked the crown of the V, and Burnside struck approximately
¼ mile south. The two Union Corps had started their attacks from points
over a mile apart that morning, but after a few hours of fighting, Burnside's
right had touched Hancock's rapidl;y advancing left. Hancock's forces were
so successful in the morning at pushing the Confederate's back, that Burnside's
right under General Griffin met with some initial success against Lane's
North Carolinian's. Initially falling back, Lane's men held tough. To Lane's
right, reinforcement's from Thomas' Georgian's, and Scales' North Carolinian's
rushed in and met the onslaught of two of Burnside's Division's. It would
be the first of three major attacks Burnside would send this day, but all
would fail to penetrate Hill's line.
The fighting raged all day and sporadically into the night. When it finally
stopped, Lee's Army had held, only losing the farthest tip of their V formation.
But it had been a very deadly defense. Lee had lost nearly 9000 men as
casualties, including many more of his valuable officers. But it had cost
Grant far more. Over 18,000 Union soldiers were either dead, wounded or missing.
A majority of these now lay in a no-man's land around the very bloodied "angle".
And for those unfortunate to be wounded in this "half acre of hell", there
would be no assistance.
The next day, from their separate entrenchment's, the two armies stared at
one another, taking shots at anyone unwise enough to make themselves a target.
While between them, wounded begged for help, no one dared venture out. As
was the case in many battles during this war, the pleas of many wounded would
end as their life slowly ebbed away.
In this battle, the 35th would suffer 10 killed, 37 wounded, and 15 missing.
While I have yet to find written confirmation, I have little doubt the 35th,
with these casualties, were part of Thomas' forces that supported Lane. Among
those that fell of the 35th was the regimental second in command, Major
William's, who was mortally wounded. The battle would be called, "The Battle
at Spotsylvania Court House". For many of those that wrote of the battle
later, "the Bloody Angle" would prove to be the most horrific experience
of their live.
nearly a week, the two armies played a deadly game of cat and mouse. Grant
would shift his forces, and Lee would respond. A couple of surprise attacks
were launched, but fail miserably. Finally, Grant seemed to be convinced
he could not afford attacking Lee further in his strong entrenchments. He,
therefore, put his Army in motion again. Lee, responded, keeping his force
between Grant and Richmond.....which was now only 20 miles away.