|View single post by connyankee|
|Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 08:16 pm||
|Great thread - I hope it keeps going (on track, too). It really pleases me to see so much insight from so many folks about one of the most crucial (and costly) campaigns of the war. Having said so, I'm still convinced the war was won (and lost) in the west.
Back in 1999, I think it was, I atteneded the mega-event Grant & Lee on a portion of the Brandy Station Battlefield. In it, they did what was referred to as the first large-scale attempt to reenact June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor. Must have been 2500 men on the makeshift field and quite impressive. It was over in about 40 minutes. The Confederates had no real reason to leave their trenches, which I suppose is my point, if any.
Since then, I've had the opportunity to travel the Overland Campaign - I mean from the Rapidan all the way to Appomattox, 20th century style! This was one of the most enjoyable, memorable, and informative things I've ever done for myself. Took me about five years, piecemeal. Some of Rhea's books weren't written yet. I know I missed some things along the way (but not much) leading me to the conclusion, LET'S DO IT AGAIN. I got GPS now and won't get lost as much on Virginia's awkward back roads which are worse (if that's possible) than New Jersey's. It is no wonder the armies got lost.
I got lost in Richmond once, trying to find the MOC. It was my own damn fault however. After being on the road all night avoiding daytime traffic, I thought I'd arrive "fresh" and everything would be opening up when I arrived. What a miscalculation - not only was I tired and cranky, lost and hungry, I was tentative in movement among people on their way to work. Lesson learned. After seeing about the third middle finger, I bolted the city that day for more "familiar" roads outside of town at Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, etc.
I thought I'd add to the discussion this reference to a Staff Ride. This one is a 3-day ride covering the Overland Campaign from 4 May to 15 June. I find these publications rather useful for, if nothing else, planning your own visit. They are generally well written. http://books.google.com/books?id=qyZepY13ypFC
Of Cold Harbor I would say this- just the name itself runs a chill down my spine. I must have gone there a dozen times now. The ol' car seems to drift in the direction of Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, etc. every time I get near Richmond. They have added a Visitor Shelter and some trails since my first visit. Unfortunately, the northern section of the 6-7 mile long battle line is gonzo - lost to development. You are looking at Hoke's line opposite Wright's exhausted Sixth Corps. The Confederate fortifications along this line are arguably among the strongest of the war. They were given the luxury of time to construct them. I honestly believe the Union High Command had no idea how strong these were. I have a hunch the guys up front did.
By the way, I did finally find the MOC and glad I did.
Regards to all,
p.s. I've always been a bit puzzled by the nearly mile-long gap in the Union battle line at Cold Harbor. Was the ground unfavorable? Some places tend to be swampy mush in the area.