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As the first light of grey dawn somehow
infiltrates among the thick canopied foliage
of the Spotsylvania – the forest know...
The confusion, disorientation and even a sense of chaos
spreading among the men was reflected in their disorientation
rega...
Pvt. Drew on Sedgwick1
“Gen’l John Sedgwick the beloved commander of the 6th
Corps, Unkle John as the men of his command c...
Benjamin Powell of the 12th
South Carolina regiment, later claimed to be
the marksman who felled Gen. Sedgwick early that ...
General John Sedgwick had arrived in Washington D.C. to serve as acting Inspector-General of the city, but was
promoted to...
“By the middle of the afternoon there was lots of noise in the timber and brush
behind us. Troops was being put in positio...
“Between 4 +5 o’cl. P.M. one battery of our artillery opened on the rebs works [P. 151] and for ten minutes or
so done som...
Here, the 6th
Corps leadership – now operating under Gen. H.A.G. Wright – has been ordered by General Grant,
to make a dir...
“Some one gave the order to fall back to the first line of works which we did as fast as we could. Here we made a
stand, t...
Following is a fascinating account of the same charge, told by a Confederate Captain W. S. Dunlop who was near the
action ...
[P. 152] Upton Shows Off
History calls this fight
“The Charge of Upton’s Brigade”
“He [Emory Upton] never had a Brigade, h...
“History says there was no finer operation in the shape of a direct assault
on strong works during the whole war. But like...
“It looked to us as thought Gen’l Wright was celebrating his first day in command of the 6th
Corps with a new
brand [bottl...
Image: A post-war photograph of the Confederate works at the front of the Mule Shoe, taken from an angle similar
to the pe...
“The 2nd
Corps in the first dash carried everything before them, capturing many prisoners and guns …
“…. but on moving [P....
William C. Trego, Hancock’s Corps Assaulting the Works at the “Bloody Angle”
“Wright’s VI Corps was ordered forward to hel...
“Then the Johnneys put in the day trying to recapture their works and all day it was what might be called a hand-to-
hand ...
A Tree Falls
“The 6th
Maine held a position on the right of the peak back some 100 yards from the line defended by the N.J...
Dunlop writes (pp. 67-70):
“Neither side could gain any advantage or make any impression upon the other, and therefore bot...
“The 2nd
Division of our corps captured a small hill; it was a good position for artillery and our Brigade put in three
da...
“Hancock withdrew his men and started back on the road, he came by early in the afternoon, the 6th
stayed giving
the foe a...
“The next day we got to the North Anna River and laid in supporting distances of the 5th
Corps that was forcing a
crossing...
“After dark a picket line was set behind us and we joined the Brigade some 4 or 5 men less -- lost during the day.
[ P. 15...
YANKEE SCOUT -- SPOTTSYLVANIA & the BLOODY ANGLE
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YANKEE SCOUT -- SPOTTSYLVANIA & the BLOODY ANGLE

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FOLLOWING the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, and the surprise killing of GEN JOHN SEDGWICK by sniper fire, on the morning of May 9, the Union Army chain of command is greatly disrupted: GENERAL GRANT voices the opinion that he could better spare the loss of an entire division, than to lose Gen. Sedgwick.

Forced adjustments in the chain of Army command now put the alcoholic Gen H.A.G. Wright in charge of the VI Corps, and open up an "internal front" within the Union Army itself -- leaving a wide opening also, for the advancement of the ambitions of a young COL. EMORY UPTON -- the chief tactical innovator and tactical drill instructor of the Union Forces.

UPTPON HAS AN IDEA for a completely new type of tactical configuration of the troops, into formations which he believes will make for more effective assault on enemy Confederate works. BASED UPON his months and months of training of Yankee troops at Brandy Station, Upton takes his innovative idea directly to GENERAL GRANT -- who concurs with UPTON's proposal....

TO EXECUTE THE ATTACK, Upton picks the Union's most proven fighters for his charge ... and WHAT HAPPENS NEXT will fell the finest flower of the Union Army in just a few short minutes.

THEIR STORY makes for a fitting objective, this MEMORIAL DAY...

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YANKEE SCOUT -- SPOTTSYLVANIA & the BLOODY ANGLE

  1. 1. As the first light of grey dawn somehow infiltrates among the thick canopied foliage of the Spotsylvania – the forest known to Virginia locals as Spott’s Woods -- on the morning of May 10, 1864, it finds the soldiers of the Grand Army of the Potomac already up for two hours: breaking camp, preparing breakfast, checking their weapons and getting ready for the coming campaign of the new day… But there is among the men of the Army’s Sixth Corps, a strange sense that they cannot shake off -- a sense of apprehension that cannot be overcome or even addressed by the summoning of personal courage: a sense that now “something big has gone.” Loss of this something big has shattered their familiar corps orientation: the motive force that instinctively organized their camaraderie: a hidden wellspring of their esprit de corps seminal to their historic battlefield victories …. General Sedgwick was killed … yesterday. Thomas Nast, from Harper’s Weekly , November 21, 1863
  2. 2. The confusion, disorientation and even a sense of chaos spreading among the men was reflected in their disorientation regarding the spot where General John Sedgwick was shot and killed – whether along the line of pickets (as Drew says) or among the artillery, whither he was then carried (as most other sources intimate) – and set in immediately, becoming fastened in the historiography. [See, Last Issue of YANKEE SCOUT -- Ed. ] The illustration below, from Harper’s the following month, shows a timbered protective lean-to raised by Union soldiers over Sedgwick’s last resting place -- out of devotion to him. But even the caption on this engraving indicates the uncertainty over precisely where and how Gen. Sedgwick died, where it reads “the Spot of General Sedgwick’s Sedgwick’s….” [sic] which may be the best information that the artist, Harper’s famed illustrator and war correspondent Alfred R. Waud, could obtain from the troops reclined under it. “Fireproof in the Wilderness on the Spot of General Sedgwick’s Sedgwick’s” [sic] A sketch by A.R. Waud, from Harpers Weekly, June 18, 1864
  3. 3. Pvt. Drew on Sedgwick1 “Gen’l John Sedgwick the beloved commander of the 6th Corps, Unkle John as the men of his command called him, was one of the best generals in the Army, the loss of this lion-hearted soldier caused the profoundest grief among his comrades and throughout the Army, which felt it could better afford the loss of the best division. 2 “Had he been alive, Upton would not have made his grand display attack upon Spottsylvania Courthouse, [This issue – Ed. ] and the slaughter of so many of the best of the 6th Corps would not have happen. His management of his corps on the 4th of May, 1863 when attacked by Lee’s greatly Superior numbers, his masterly withdrawal from the trap Hooker had put him in, proves his generalship. [ See YANKEE SCOUT – Chancellorsville – Ed.] “When the rebels got around his flank, and in his rear, in the Wilderness, it did not [take] him long to outflank the flankers capturing more of them than they had taken from us. [ See YANKEE SCOUT – Battle of the Wilderness – Ed.] “He was not partial to the press correspondents that followed the army. Therefore the 6th Corps never got credit for the good work it done. He was more competent to command the Army of the Potomac than either Burnside or Hooker or Mead. He was a War Democrat and a fighter. “Swinton in his History of the Army of the Potomac, on page 447 – gives the only true account of the place and maner of his death I have ever found in print.” 3 1 Pvt. Drew was prolific in his criticism of the Union Army generals. See for instance, his side-by-side comparisons in YANKEE SCOUT – the Mud Campaign. He had no criticism of Sedgwick. In addition to many passing references in his memoir praising Gen. Sedgwick, Drew also added this separate short summary (above) of this modest military genius of the old school, which appears well after the narrative, at p 180 of the Memoir book. 2 Drew is here quoting already from Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, p. 447 – but the comment is attributable to Grant himself. 3 Swinton, id., confirms Drew, relating that “Sedgwick ….. was shot while standing in the breastworks along his line, and almost instantly expired.” There is one full (and very good) biography of Gen. John Sedgwick, R. E. Winslow’s General John Sedgwick, the Story of a Union Corps Commander (1982). At Chap. 7, p. 173, he too places Sedgwick in the open along the line, “examin[ing] the exposed angle between the 5th [Gen. Warren’s] and 6th corps.”
  4. 4. Benjamin Powell of the 12th South Carolina regiment, later claimed to be the marksman who felled Gen. Sedgwick early that morning of May 9. In a letter to his wife, written in 1907, he stated: “While a member of the 12th Reg., I was offered a lieutenant twice but declined the honor. At the battle of Second Manassas Col. Barnes placed me in command of the Infirmary Corps in which capacity I served until a few days before the battle of Gettysburg when I was presented with a long-range Whitworth rifle with a telescope and globe sights and with a roving commission as an independent sharpshooter and scout. This rifle killed Gen. Sedgwick at Spottsylvania Court House.” Powell’s claim was independently seconded ten years later, by his friend and comrade in arms, Berry Benson, in an article he penned for the Augusta Chronicle, for November 25, 1917 ….. the article reads, in part: On this 9th of May, Ben [Powell] came in about noon, and walking up to me, he said: "Sergeant, I got a big Yankee officer this morning." "How do you know it was an officer?" I asked. "I could tell by the way they behaved; they were all mounted; it was something over half a mile; I could see them good through the telescope; I could tell by the way they acted which was the head man; so I raised my sights and took the chance; and, sir, he tumbled right off his horse. The others dismounted and carried him away. I could see it all good through the glass." See, http://www.sedgwick.org/na/families/robert1613/B/2/9/2/powell-benjaminm1841.html#augusta Another source providing third-party corroboration for the attribution of the shot to Benj. Powell was published in 1899, in Maj. W.S. Dunlop’s short volume on Spotsylvania, Lee’s Sharpshooters, or, the Forefront of Battle – a story of Southern valor that never has been told (1899). https://archive.org/details/04313758.3334.emory.edu Therein, Dunlop reports (pp. 48-49) : “Here we could plainly see Sedgwick’s corps in line of battle on the crest of another hill, busily engaged in rectifying their lines and constructing breatsworks, with their skirmishers well advanced. Upon these we opened a scattering fire with some effect. We discovered an angel protruding from their main line towards the right of the battalion, which brought a four gun battery with its infantry supports placed there for defense of the salient, barely in reach of our long range rifles. And to these Ben Powell with his “Whitworth” and a few files on the right paid their respects. Presently an officer of rank with his staff approached the salient, and adjusting his field glasses began to take observations of the front. A few shots only had been fired at this group, when the ringing peal of Powell’s “Whitworth” was heard some distance to the right; the officer was seen to stagger and fall: and the brilliant career of that gallant and distinguished soldier, Maj. Gen. Sedgwick, commandant of the fifth Federal army corps, was closed and closed forever. Powell reported at once that he had killed a federal General, but we knew not his name or rank until it came out a few days later in the northern papers, announcing teat Gen. Sedgwick had been killed by a Confederate sharpshooter; which fact, so published at the time, has gone into history, but the name of “the man behind the gun” has never been mentioned.” IT WAS BENJ. POWELL !!
  5. 5. General John Sedgwick had arrived in Washington D.C. to serve as acting Inspector-General of the city, but was promoted to Brigadier-General of Volunteers in August, 1861. After daring leadership at the battle of Antietam, where he was seriously injured, Sedgwick was promoted to commander of the VI Corps. Sedgwick’s common touch with his soldiers –- especially the disregarded volunteers, whose competence and sacrifice was often ignored by the “regulars” in the Army, as often by the “West Pointers” in command -- was recounted in YANKEE SCOUT – the Mud Campaign; Review of Generals. His intimacy with the troops seems like something out of Shakespeare, as in Henry V, 4 where King Henry circulates through the darkness, among troops resting on the eve of the battle of Agincourt … conveying battlefield brotherhood and confidence with a glance or a touch: With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty; That every wretch, pining and pale before, Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks; A largess universal, like the sun, His liberal eye doth give to every one, Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all Behold, as may unworthiness define, A little touch of Harry in the night. But the human touch is gone – and what will fill the vacuum left behind? So it would seem to Pvt. Drew. King Henry was a “War Democrat” on the battlefield for sure – and, although the sense he meant was political, this is how Pvt. Drew mentions Sedgwick, too. Now, however, come any other Command or Commander to the VI Corps -- of whatever competence -- he will, if he does not have this gift to the same degree, likely be apperceived as laying the cold hand of stark authority on the shell-shocked soldiers whose devotion to Sedgwick had been so total. Their exercise of authority will be resented, and interpreted as authoritarianism -- and egotism – to the troops in that state of nervous shock… And this is what we see affecting Pvt. Drew’s judgement, in his Memoir at this point: a resentment of the young Colonel Emory Upton in particular – a resentment that has apparently been nurtured over decades into a deep-seated grudge, till by the time the Memoir is written, Drew is barely able to accord Upton any credit for his professional dedication to the perpetual drilling of Union troops over the winter at Brandy Station, and less, to Upton’s insightful tactical innovations, which have given the Army… a new and effective assault tactic and -- despite the carnage -- a tactical and moral victory at Spottslyvania. The same resentment is also directed at no less a figure than Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant whose attacks at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor left so many thousands of men as casualties … many of them Drew’s friends !!!! 4 Henry V, Act IV, Prologue
  6. 6. “By the middle of the afternoon there was lots of noise in the timber and brush behind us. Troops was being put in position many of the orders were plainly heard and we knew a charge was to be made in the enemies works in front. We called it 200 yards to the Fort and loaded our guns and sighted for that distance and we sent the lead so thick that not a head was seen above their works. “About this time Captain [Frederick A.] Hill of Co. C. came tearing through the brush. We halted him with “No passing through the picket line !” [ Image: Cartes des Visite, Capt. Frederick A. Hill, Co. C., 6th Maine (Maine State Archives)] “He stoped mighty quick saying, “Where in H___ is the Reg’t?” I told him to, “Take cover or go back quick as there is a rebel sharpshooter in the timber on the right who can reach you here.” “He had removed his cap, was wiping his face with a clean white handkerchief when a bullet glazed him across the forhead.5 It just scratched the skin enough to draw blood. He was not long getting out of that. We kept up a hot fire and kept the foe down. “Some one got most of their sharp shooters in a short time they did not trouble any more.” 6 5 “Captain Frederick A. Hill of C. Company had been hit that morning by a spent ball which stuck him in the forehead.” Mundy, No Rich Men’s Sons; the 6th Maine Volunteer Infantry, p. 195. (1994) 6 Probably Pvt. Drew would not have failed to notice the identity of the “someone” who removed the Rebel sharpshooters from the field of operations here – unless through modesty he was concealing his own contribution: in the portions of his Memoir devoted to the Civil War, Drew never mentions his marksmanship (but he is after all on the skirmish line), but in a later “post-war” portion thereof, “The Next Cruise,” it becomes apparent during an elk hunting expedition, that he is himself a crack shot. Otherwise, Drew may here be referring to the Indian “Rattlesnake” as the hand of justice: see Last Issue, YANKEE SCOUT – The Killing of General Sedgwick -- where the N.Y. Indian Rattlesnake takes vengeance on one of these sharpshooters, for the death of Gen. Sedgwick.
  7. 7. “Between 4 +5 o’cl. P.M. one battery of our artillery opened on the rebs works [P. 151] and for ten minutes or so done some pretty good work; then the line of battle came into the opening with a rush and yell, as usal the skirmishers took the lead. The yell aroused the Johnneys: they gave us grape and canister and musketry with a vengeance. We went over the rifle pitts around and into the fort, capturing the guns and many prisoners.” This detail from R.K. Sneden’s Plan of the Battle of Spottsylvania C.H., allows us to suggest the location of Pvt. Drew and Co. K., 6th Maine Infantry relative to the very close-worked, compound and confusing battlefield action around the Spottsylvania Court House of May 11, 1864 – not May 10, as in Drew’s dating. The map shows, according to Sneden, a place – perhaps in front of the line – marked “Sedgwick Killed Here” … and this should help to orient the viewer towards the action in real (but imagined ) physical space. Just below this, circled in blue, the Sixth Corps fortified line marked “SEDGWICK” can be seen bulging south towards the rebel fortifications – there are two such rebel lines, and beyond this we see the Bloody Angle .. of tomorrow’s battle! And behind that are the field Head Quarters of Gen. Lee, who has taken up positions in front of the Spottsylvania Court House --not shown on this detail. According to Pvt. Drew’s account, the forces of the Sixth Corps have already gone over the rifle pitts and into the Rebel fort, taken guns and prisoners, and are ready to attack again: “There was a second line of rifle pitts some distant ahead. The skirmishers put on for that, I stoped and looked back. The first line was breaking from the center and wheeling Right and Left to the flanks. The 2nd line pas the first line of works, the 5th Wis. and 6th Me in the center in perfect formation. So we charged the second lines of Rebels works and went over them.”
  8. 8. Here, the 6th Corps leadership – now operating under Gen. H.A.G. Wright – has been ordered by General Grant, to make a direct assault on Gen. Lee’s forward works in front of Spottsylvania C. H.: they are expected to attack with a level of tactical cohesion achieved only through endless drilling that has been enforced upon the men by master tactician and drillmaster Col. Emory Upton, during the enforced “down-time” of the Winter encampment at Brandy Station. The result is a careful orchestration of this historic infantry assault. The reb works were first hammered with shelling from the artillery; then the skirmishers – with Drew evidently -- in the vanguard, have actually led the 6th Corps charge of the rebel line: the assault is then conducted in three lines: the first line, after absorbing a barrage of rebel volleys, “wheel” off right and left, decimated by reb gunfire. But they have done work enough on the rebel defense that the 2nd line, including the 5th Wisc. and 6th Me are able to go over the breastworks into the rebel forts … something they are getting used to! “The foe here ran away before we got to them. The 3rd [line] of us came on to the 1st line of the [Rebel] works and stoped and came no further. Meanwhile the Rebs got several batterys in front and on each flank, their infantry were coming in. Grape, canister, shrapnel, shells, and railroad spikes was working distruction in our ranks.”
  9. 9. “Some one gave the order to fall back to the first line of works which we did as fast as we could. Here we made a stand, the rebs did charge us, so we held the line until long after dark. Some distance ahead and to the Right of the second line of works was a large building. “We learned after the fight it was Spottsylvania Court House.” “We skirmishers joined what was left of the 6th Me – four of our color guard had been killed. I never did find out how many of our men was killed. We got most of the wounded away the next day under a flag of truth. “We left their canons in the Fort I don’t think they was even spiked.” We are accustomed to hear in the romanticized literature of the Civil War, often founded on Early’s “Lost Cause” revisionism, that the Grand Army of the Potomac only succeeded against the glorious legions of the Confederate Army under Lee’s masterful generalship, because Ulysses S. Grant “with indomitable will” was able to unleash “unlimited manpower” against the South. In asserting that position, the skill, professionalism, devotion, courage and heroic cohesion of the men of the Grand Army of the Potomac is usually short-changed, and their accomplishments in preserving the Union through the sacrifice of their lives, too readily disregarded. The foregoing may help to correct that misconception !!
  10. 10. Following is a fascinating account of the same charge, told by a Confederate Captain W. S. Dunlop who was near the action – again, taken from his book, Lee’s Sharpshooters, -- https://archive.org/details/04313758.3334.emory.edu -- p 52 : “Hence , about 5 o’clock, increasing the dimensions and weight of this assaulting columns, by the addition of Wright and Hancock, with all the energy of his indomitable will, Gen. Grant hurled the flower of the Federal army against the Confederate left center. One after another the dark lines came rushing forward, at first in quick time, then at a full charge, as if nothing could stay their impetuous onslaught. the front lines dissolved before the pitiless storm that beat against them, but the succeeding lines, rushing forward over the prostrate forms of their fallen comrades, succeeded in penetrating our lines at two points: the one where stood the gallant Texas brigade of Anderson’s corps, the other where stood Dole’s brigade on Ewell’s left. These gallant brigades stubbornly yielded to the weight of overwhelming numbers, but promptly rallying upon the supports at hand, succeeded in forcing the enemy back through the breach with terrible slaughter. Again repulsed on every part of the line, the assailants fell back in disorder to their works, leaving the ground thickly strewn with their killed and wounded. [ NOTE: Throughout the day, the divisions of Heth, Field, Kershaw and Wilcox * * * maintained a firmness and displayed a valor that well became the veterans of a hundred battle. The Army of the Potomac never fought with more desperate courage, nor had its ranks ever been visited with such frightful havoc – Long]” HOWEVER … to experience the closest imaginary recreation of the psychological tension of war, and the most realistic whipsaw effect achievable in the “fiction ” of the Civil War, the Editor recommends once again the unique works of Blackwood Ketcham Benson that were introduced in YANKEE SCOUT – Winter Quarters: Battle of Mine Run !! -- and this time in particular the incomparable YANKEE SCOUT companion, A Friend with the Countersign – available here: https://archive.org/details/friendwithcounte00bensiala In Chapter XV – THE HORSESHOE SALIENT, p. 152, General Meade, on the morning of May 9, 1864, assigns the Union super-spy “Jones Berwick” the task of reconnoitering the Muleshoe …. here, at p. 154: “General Meade showed me a sketch of the country, with the Confederate intrenchments laid down. “Here,” he said, “you see the salient. It is opposite the Sixth Corps. I want you to go down there and go along our skirmish-line, and nearer if possible, to see what you can see from our side.” “All right General,” I responded cheerfully, “I can start at once.” “Yes, but hold on. When you have seen it from our side, I want you to see it from their side.” “No doubt my countenance fell; but I answered that I should obey orders. “You may go now,’ said the general; “try to be back by two or the o’clock, for I shall be here then, and will show you what I want further.”
  11. 11. [P. 152] Upton Shows Off History calls this fight “The Charge of Upton’s Brigade” “He [Emory Upton] never had a Brigade, he was a late-commer out of West Point was colonel of the 121st New York Infantry. Report from Capt. Hill “It was a picked force of the best fighting in the 6th Corps. and Capt. Hill of Co C. gave me a statement of the formation as follows The 1st line was made up of 5th Me, 121st N.Y. 96th and 119th Pa. The 2nd line of 77th and 43rd N.Y., 5th Wis, 6th Me & 49th Pa. The 3rd line 2nd , 3rd , 5th and 6th Vermont …or the VERMONT BRIGADE “The 6th Wis., 6th Me, 49th , 119th Penn was our, or [Gen.] Russell’s Brigade. “The 5th Wis, 6th Me, + 43rd New York had been units of the Light Division in the Charge on Marye’s Hill May 3rd , 1863. 7 Co. K lost 6 men on the skirmish line and [Capt.] Hill said the Reg’t had 125 killed and wounded.8 “I was told the 5th Me lost 3 out of each 5 it took into the fight – I think the attacking force must have had more than 1000 men killed and wounded, of the best fighting men in the army. We captured 1200 rebs and 4 guns – gave the guns back. No one knows how many of them [ rebels ] was killed and wounded.”9 7 Following the battle of Chancellorsville, on May 11, 1863 Gen. Joe Hooker reorganized the Grand Army of the Potomac, and inter alia dissolved the Light Division that had so successfully carried Marye’s Heights over Fredericksburg just a week before. Hooker created this new brigade, including most of the original regiments of the original Light Division, placed under the command of General Charles A Russell. Why was the Light Division disbanded – it’s heroic deeds forgotten ? For details, better look into YANKEE SCOUT –-Chancelorsville !! 8 Naturally, Pvt. Drew is referring to the Charge at Fredericksburg II, which carried the Confederate works at Marye’s Heights. See YANKEE SCOUT – Charge of the Light Bigade!! 9 The National Park Service now has a page devoted to a virtual tour of the battlefield reconstruction of Upton’s Charge on the Mule Shoe on May 10, 1864 – See: http://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/photosmultimedia/upton.htm
  12. 12. “History says there was no finer operation in the shape of a direct assault on strong works during the whole war. But like many other actions of the kind it was isolate and though in itself successful it success was rendered useless by lack of concerted support.” Some body was to blame for the sacrifice of a thousand or so of the best troops in the army and it don’t look like it was Gen’l Upton – he done his part and the men did theirs. “ [ P. 153 ] “Who it was that failed is a question nobody has endeavored to answer.” “It was nothing but cold-blooded cruel murder, had the troops been supported as the Light Division was at Marye’s Hill, Lee’s Army would have been cut in two. U.S. Grant in his Memories at the bottom of page 224 and top 225, says, “I conferred the rank of brigadier general upon Upton upon the spot”. “Yes, his star was bought with the useless slaughter of good true, fighting men.” After he left office, President Grant penned his Personal Memoires (at left) during the year 1884. This masterpiece of autobiography was published in 1865, only shortly after the death of this great Lieut. General and later President of the United States. This historic coordinated charge on the “Mule Shoe,” had been directed by General Grant, and lead by Col. Upton. But even after Grant’s arrival, Gen. Meade remained in tactical command of the Union Army – so as conceived and planned by Meade, following the initial assault as described above, Gen. Gerhsom Mott was to lead his brigade into the gap created by this three- pronged charge described above, and provide the key Union reinforcements to sustain the charge and establish the break in the Confederate defenses. But, due to failed communication, it was a support which never materialized. Originally the charge was scheduled for 5:00 o’cl P.M., but late in the afternoon Grant ordered a delay of one hour, postponing the charge until 6:00 o’clock. However, General Mott evidently did not receive notice of the one-hour delay, and so Gen. Mott’s brigade made their advance BEFORE the actual charge took place, and were thus – in the meantime -- successfully repelled by rebel forces. The Civil War Trust has posted an excellent article by C.D. Crockett, explaining in detail the catastrophe, @ http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/spotsylvaniacourthouse/spotsylvania-history/the-unions-bloody-miscue-at.html
  13. 13. “It looked to us as thought Gen’l Wright was celebrating his first day in command of the 6th Corps with a new brand [bottle] of mighty poor rotgut. “We went in camp tire, soar and ugley. We wondered was Wright and Russell boath dead drunk – none of us had seen them. The next morning there was 80 men in the regiment for duty – I never saw the men so cross and ugley. We was expected to hold our position in the Brigade and perform the duties of a full regiment. “The 5th Wisconsin has just a few more men [ left ] than we have. We moved to the right of the 2nd Corps and was under fire more or less all day but we were such a small bunch the Johhneys couldn’t fine us. “We made a midnight march and lid down to res at 3 o’cl A.M. May 12th , 1864.” 10 “The 2nd corps under Hancock made a big attack upon what is known in history as the Bloody Angle beginning after Midnight of the 13th . Image: Thure de Thulstrup, Battle of Spottsylvania 1010 “The 11th [of May] was a wet and disagreeable day with little or no serious fighting.” W. S. Dunlop, , Ibid, p. 63.
  14. 14. Image: A post-war photograph of the Confederate works at the front of the Mule Shoe, taken from an angle similar to the perspective of Thure de Thulstrup’s dramatic painting, preceding page. Despite the fall-back of the troops, and ultimate failure of the May 10th charge described above, Upton’s operation was – as observed -- deemed a brilliant success by Grant, and is now being employed again at the very front of the salient or Mule Shoe, on the early morning of May 13th . For the 20 hours of straight hand-to-hand combat which will now take place, the salient here will be re-named “The Bloody Angle.” Maj. W. S. Dunlop, in Lee’s Sharpshooter’s, again narrates – with a certain zest (p. 61): “Late in the afternoon of the 11th an impression prevailed [among the Confederate generals] that Grant was about to take another step to the left, and the constant stir and shifting of of troops on the Federal lines somewhat justified the impression. Our trains were therefore placed under marching orders; the artillery posted in the salient occupied by Johnson’s division was withdrawn, and every arrangement made for a move during the night, if necessary. The Federal commander readily discovered the mistake of his opponent and determined to make an attack at this point early the next morning, and to that end massed a heavy column during the night in front of Johnson, consisting of the second and sixth, with two divisions of the fifth corps.” The National Park Service also has an excellent virtual tour of this Spottsylvania Court House area battlefield, the Bloody Angle, here : http://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/photosmultimedia/angle.htm
  15. 15. “The 2nd Corps in the first dash carried everything before them, capturing many prisoners and guns … “…. but on moving [P. 154 ] on the 2nd line of rebel works got mixed up with men who had charged on the right side of the angle, and confusion held the mass long enough for the foe to rush up reinforcements and attached the mass on three sides and the Yanks had to fall back, but they stoped on the outside of the 1st line of rebs works and w’ld not go further.” Image; Detail of Sneden, Map of Battle of Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia, showing attack on the Salient Angle, May 12, 1864 Pvt. Drew’s description of the two-pronged Union attack on the Salient, as being itself the very cause of the confusion and failure of this charge, appears to be confirmed in B. K. Benson’s A Friend with the Countersign, (1901) https://archive.org/details/friendwithcounte00bensiala -- referenced @ p. 11, above. In Chapt. XVI “THE BLOODY ANGLE”, p. 181, the super-spy Berwick, after reconnoitering the Confederate side of the Bloody Angle on the morning of May 11th , 1864 sends General Meade a note, advising: “GENERAL – I beg to report that the salient can be carried if both sides of the angle are attacked simultaneously with heavy forces. “Respectfully, “JONES BERWICK”
  16. 16. William C. Trego, Hancock’s Corps Assaulting the Works at the “Bloody Angle” “Wright’s VI Corps was ordered forward to help Hancock. It became engaged in a bloody melee along the same front of the salient where Upton had attacked two days before, a location that became known to history as ‘the Bloddy Angle.” “It rained most of the morning and intermittently through the afternoon, as men fought for possession of those same log parapets contested on the 10th . As Eustis’s brigade moved forward in support of Upton’s, they entered into one of the more hellish scenes of the entire war. Federal and Confederate infantry were massed on both sides of the parapet. men were firing under and over the logs at each other, often inches away from their opponents. Men in the rear ranks passed loaded rifles forward to those in the front, and empty weapons came back for reloading. Occasionally a Yankee would become crazed and leap on top of the works to fire down at the Rebels below. Sme got off three or four rounds from their own muskets and those handed up to them, before they were killed. One member of the 5th Maine remembered seeing twenty-four different Federal regimental colors at this one point of conention. Ammunition cases were dragged forward to maintain the firepower of lines of infantry that were, in places, massed ten deep.” “The fighting began at 4:30 in the morning and lasted for twenty-three hours….” Mundy, No Rich Men’s Sons; the 6th Maine Volunteer Infantry, p.200 (1994).
  17. 17. “Then the Johnneys put in the day trying to recapture their works and all day it was what might be called a hand-to- hand combat. “Lee kept sending in men – Regiments and Brigades at a time to be used up by our men.” “The 6th Corps supported the 2nd and ___ and in the morning dash was too quick on the charge, covering more distance than was allowed to them. The Vermont and New Jersey Brigade were the men – and they let the rebs try all day to take the breastworks they were defending.” Image: Alfred R. Waud “The Toughest Fight Yet – the fight for the Salient”
  18. 18. A Tree Falls “The 6th Maine held a position on the right of the peak back some 100 yards from the line defended by the N.J. boys on the side of a hill thickly covered with brush, where we lay all day and practiced long range snipping whenever rebs sent in reinforcements. “This is the day and the place where an oak tree 16 inches in diameter was chawed down by the muskets balls. [The tree was actually 22 and ½ inches across – after barking !! – Ed.] It stood at a shot distance in the angle and was exposed to a cross-fire. The rebel sharpshooters using it as a cover early in the morning drew the Union fire. “Lee was determined to retake the works at any cost and five times during the day he sent in fresh troops – but it was no go. “This was the first soft nap the 6th Me had [after] crossing the Rappadan.” [P. 155] “The stump of that tree was cut down and in a museam in Washington, may be there yet.) “ 11 “At dark we moved to the rear half a mile or so and camped.” 11 The famous Stump is still at the Smithsonian -- http://www.civilwar.si.edu/weapons_stump.html# ; http://amhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/collection/object.asp?ID=704
  19. 19. Dunlop writes (pp. 67-70): “Neither side could gain any advantage or make any impression upon the other, and therefore both settled down to their work of death and destruction. hour after hour the livelong day and far into the succeeding night “the incessant roll of volleying guns” proclaimed the desperate nature of the bloody conflict going on in this “bloody angle.” “Fortunately the works at this point were strongly traversed and mounted by heavy head logs, beneath which contestants aimed and fired, otherwise no living thing could have survived for a moment he terrific cross- current of musket balls, which literally combed the parapets from every point of the compass. Around this storm center the battle surged and swayed, and men fell by scores and hundreds, like leaves before an autumn gale. * * * “An incident which illustrates the fierceness of this battle, and which by various writers has received historical notice, may properly be mentioned in this connection. A large oak tree, eighteen inches in diameter (besides a number of smaller trees of different varieties and dimensions), standing some twenty feet or more in rear of the Confederate works, was literally shot down by the incessant converging fire of the Federal musketry – to the truth of which, the writer, as an eye witness of the fact, here bears testimony. * * * “The tree fell after midnight, and after the firing had ceased everywhere except at this vital point.” Several men of the twelfth South Carolina regiment, which occupied the right of the line on the left face and near the tip of the angle, were crushed down and severely stunned by the lap of the falling tree, but nor permanently injured. ” “During the night Lee gave up the attempt to recover the works and retired to his second [line] of works and in the morning he was found there perfectly willing for us to attack some more. This day we laid up and cleaned guns and ourselves. “The chaplin came up with mail, and there were many letters he could not deliver [due to the number of dead among the decimated 6th corps ]. We are wondering why Grant will put us up against Lee’s breastworks as he does ? Why don’t he kep on and try to get to Richmond as soon as possible and begin the siege? “We left the camp after dark of the 13th of May. “We marched all night to the left or south, the 5th Corps was ahead, it had rained last night and the mud is some inches deep in many places. The night very dark and foggy12 – we waded a River the water waist-deep between two and 3 o’cl A.M. many of the 5th men fell out and camped by the way. “ We had orders to strike the foe at 4 o’cl A.M. of the 14th but it was 7 o’cl before the skirmishing began and the attack when made did not amount to much – the men were too fagged out to do good fighting. 12 Behind the clouds, a half moon was waxing on the 13th of May, 1864.
  20. 20. “The 2nd Division of our corps captured a small hill; it was a good position for artillery and our Brigade put in three days making breast-works and rifle pitts and cutting roads through the timber and brush, most of the time under fire, and some of our men was wounded.” “We had a good camp in a grove of large timber where we made coffee and cooked fresh beef for supper, and had a good nights rest. The next morning before daylight Co.’s K and E of the 6th Maine was put on picket we got up close to [ P. 166 ] ___ and as soon as it was light enough to see, the foe opened on us and the picket lines became a skirmish line and we proceeded to amuse each other all day. Phill Dugan “In the afternoon near 5 o’cl Philly Dugan on post with me and about 4 feet to my right was shot in the neck, the blood spurted out of the hole a stream. He jumped up saying, “Drew, I’ve got it good and plenty!” Sticking his finger in the hole he struck out to the rear. I never expected to [see ] him more. Just then Denbo 6 feet or less on my left fired, and in a minute he said “I got that D____ John that got Phill.” “Mayo was on post with Denbo; just before sunset Mayo was shot dead and Denbo got another John – such is life on the skirmish line. “About 9 o’cl P.M. we was relieved by some of the old 3rd Corps that had been put in our 6th Corps. Denbo and I packed Mayo and the two extra rifles in – we had quite a time finding the Reg’t. The next day we made road in the rear so to get supplys from Acquia Creek to which place our Base had been changed. “The next day we corduroyed road and built Bridges all day. Then as we was getting redy to camp down for the night, orders came to fall in and we started on a march to the Right. “We understood the 2nd corps was moving parellil and on the left of us. Daylight found us back in the vicinity of the Bloody Angle where we had fought all day p [ ? ] of the instan. “But the rebels had made a new line of works some distance in front of the old line and had slashed the woods , brush and timber in front of a new fort, with plenty of artillery and infantry waiting. The attack on the morning of the 18th was not very spirited, how could it be – [P. 157 ] The Po River “After a toilsome march all night, it was the River Po – we waded going and coming, and none of us had got dry. We was in the second line of battle and had no chance to fire a shot althou we was under fire most of the time. “The attack failed, the 2nd corps was repulsed with heavy loss.
  21. 21. “Hancock withdrew his men and started back on the road, he came by early in the afternoon, the 6th stayed giving the foe a chance to come out and tackle us, but they would not [do] so after dark we followed the 2nd Corps and marched [by] night when we laid down to rest; after a couple hours rest we turned out, got a fed and soon after daylight was on the arch to the left or front. “About 9 o’cl A.M. we stacked arms, took shovels and picks and built breastworks in a firm place for the foe to tackle, but they seemed to be done giving us that kind of play. “The day was hot. Strawberries and cherries are ripe, corn two feet high, we spoiled quite a lot of it, this is a fine farming county – nobody at home in the big houses, all goen to Richmond to get out of the way of the Yanks, excepting a few negroes too old to be of any use, left to look after things. There was some fighting on the right and left of us some distant off – but none near us. “The boys are begening to think U.S. Grant as great a bucher as Burnside, some times we know it is useless to attack breastworks, forts and rifle-pities with one thin line of battle when ever we strike the rebs we find them behind strong works.” “We march all night and fight all day. We never make a move even on a dark night but the foe knows it and makes a counter move behind their entrenched lines [ P. 158 ] Drawing the Johnneys Out “May 22nd the Army began another move on the flank. Our division was moved close up to the foe and kept up a heavy skirmish attack out on their rifle pitts until the middle of the afternoon when we withdrew to some rifle pitts in our rear. The foe seeing us returning came after us with a strong force. But our rifle pitts was well-manned and we sent them back with a heavy loss. At dark we started following the 2nd Corps neer noon the next day we stuck the Richmond and Potomac [RR ] at Guenens Station, after a feed we proceeded to tear of [up?] the R. R. until dark then camped.” [Image: Alfred R. Waud “Burning of the Fredericksburg & Richmond Railroad Bridge over the North Anna River”, from Harper’s Weekly, (June 18, 1864) ]
  22. 22. “The next day we got to the North Anna River and laid in supporting distances of the 5th Corps that was forcing a crossing. The next morning we crossed on a pontoon bridge, and moved to the support of the 5th Corps that was doing some fighting; [but] before we got in position the foe had got enough and left and went into their entrenchments, so we rested and done some much needed washing and cleaning up. “ [Image: Detail from Alfred R. Waud “The Campaign in Virginia, Canvass Pontoons on the north Anna River”, from Harper’s Weekly, (June 18, 1864) ] “Drew ammunition and rations, the fresh beef we got to night was mighty poor and tough. Chaplain Kelley got up with the mail and we received news from home and friends. Denbo Hit “The next morning we moved close up to the rifle pitts of the foe. The 6th Maine was put in the skirmish line, in a short time we [ was ] severely engaged. “At 10 o’cl P.M. Denbo was wounded on the firing line, he crawled to the rear amidst a shower of rebels bullets and I never saw him again. 13 13 Henry C. Denbo, Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Indian, of Lubec, Maine, was listed as 23 years old in the 1860 census, and would be about 27 at the Battle of Spottsylvania. Denbo enlisted on August 23, 1862,and thus his term of service would only be up in 1865. Pvt. Denbo and Pvt. Drew became a scouting team, comrades and close friends during their service together in the 6th Maine Infantry… Special thanks to Prof. Stephen Dow Beckham of Lewis & Clark College (Ret.) Portland, Oregon for providing key vital stats & background details on the life and family of Henry C. Denbo, as well as for a certain unique type of expert e-mentoring on historical issues and historiography, vital encouragement and moral support – Ed.
  23. 23. “After dark a picket line was set behind us and we joined the Brigade some 4 or 5 men less -- lost during the day. [ P. 159] We got a bite and started before daylight, re-crossed the North Anna River; at sunrise we found we was marching nearly due east and following close up to a large force of cavalry, our Division keeping up with the horsemen in fine shape and we got to the Pamunkey River early in the afternoon, the cavalry drove a small party of reb cavalry away …. They could have been Mosby’s men …… !!! DON’T STOP NOW !!! HEY WAIT --- DID PVT. DENBO SURVIVE ?? Did he recover from his wound sustained in action, in the days following the Battle for the Salient? IT DOES NOT LOOK GOOD FOR PVT. DENBO! Or for DREW!! But …. Maybe things will start looking up now ….. I GUESS THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT …. !!!

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