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drawing of soldiers
In the Forbes drawing (above), soldiers of Hancock's II Corps clear a field of fire along the Brock Road on May 10, 1864, a position they held only with hard fighting and heavy losses. Two days later his Union infantry massed for the dawn attack on Lee's salient (below). The fighting there was some of the toughest of the entire war. At one point, wrote Hancock, the two battlelines were so close that the Confederate 'flags stood on one side of the intrenchments while ours stood on the other, only separated by the parapet, the two lines firing into each other's faces.' The Confederate below lies at the foot of a barricade he had defended during Ewell's attack on the Union right on May 19.
Courtesy, Library of Congress

drawing of soldiers


dead soldier

As in the Wilderness, there had been no victory and no defeat only mud, blood, and death. But one fact was becoming clear Grant would not turn back under any circumstances. Despite his heavier losses, he was slowly but methodically destroying Lee's ability to wage offensive war. Death, disease, and desertion were slowly dissolving the proud Army of Northern Virginia.

So, 2 days later, the armies marched away from the fields of Spotsylvania. Yet for the men of Lee and Grant, now grappling southward in a twilight struggle, even more glory and agony lay ahead. Another year's fighting at Cold Harbor, Richmond, and Petersburg would follow before peace drifted in with the spring tide of 1865 at a dusty village called Appomattox Courthouse


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