The Civil War, Day by Day

The Bloody Angle


Battle of “Bloody Angle” at Spotsylvania Court House

Grant’s thrust out of the Wilderness was blocked at Spotsylvania Court House, where desultory fighting turned the battlefield into a maze of trenches. One section of Lee’s line around the village was in the shape of a giant “mule shoe,” as the soldiers called it. After an early attempt to break through the mule shoe failed, on May 12, Generals Grant and Meade committed two entire corps to another attack. In rain and dense fog, Union soldiers overran the Confederates in their earthworks, severing Lee’s line. Desperate moments followed until a Confederate counterattack drove back the attackers, and the fighting became perhaps the most intense and bloodiest of the war. With only a log and earthen wall separating them, the combatants shot, stabbed and clubbed each other for almost eighteen hours. The most furious fighting centered around a slight angle in the earthworks, where the intense rifle fire was enough to chip away the trunk of an oak tree. Lee’s Southerners held on while engineers built a new line behind them. Darkness finally ended the fighting, and the next morning a Union officer crept up to the “Bloody Angle” to find: “Hundreds of Confederates, dead or dying, lay piled over one another in those pits. The fallen lay three or four deep in some places….The trenches were nearly full of muddy water. It was the most horrible sight I had ever witnessed.” Few episodes were ever to equal the horrors of Spotsylvania.




May's Archived Features:

Wednesday May 1, 2019
Thursday May 2, 2019
Friday May 3, 2019
Saturday May 4, 2019
Sunday May 5, 2019
Monday May 6, 2019
Tuesday May 7, 2019
Wednesday May 8, 2019
Thursday May 9, 2019
Friday May 10, 2019
Saturday May 11, 2019
Sunday May 12, 2019
Monday May 13, 2019
Tuesday May 14, 2019
Wednesday May 15, 2019
Thursday May 16, 2019
Friday May 17, 2019
Saturday May 18, 2019
Sunday May 19, 2019
Monday May 20, 2019
Tuesday May 21, 2019
Wednesday May 22, 2019
Thursday May 23, 2019
Friday May 24, 2019

 

 

 
All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.