The Civil War, Day by Day

The High Water Mark (detail)

The Battle of Cold Harbor

At this stage of the Civil War, both Grant and Lee were irascible and thirsty for victory. Grant, intent on winning Richmond, persisted in trying to outflank Lee’s positions, facing over 40,000 casualties in less than one month. Frustrated by Lee’s countermoves, Grant decided to strike the Confederate forces head-on. Lee, meanwhile, was obsessed by the urge to demolish Grant’s Army. Although Lee’s downtrodden troops were poorly outfitted and undernourished, they successfully turned back three strong Union assaults in the labyrinth of swamps and hills of Cold Harbor.

Despite their victory, the Battle of Cold Harbor was a sad moment for the Confederates, for here they lost former South Carolina Congressman Lawrence Keitt. What Keitt lacked in military experience, he made up for in enthusiasm. Accompanied by his volunteer regiment - dressed in expertly tailored uniforms - Keitt rushed to the front and was killed instantly.

Mort Künstler painted this dramatic battle scene, a detail from The High Water Mark, which typifies the fighting which took place at the Battle of Cold Harbor.

July's Archived Features:

Friday July 1, 2022



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.