4 thoughts on “June 3, 1864: Cold Harbor

  1. John Foskett June 4, 2014 / 7:08 am

    As you point out in one of those previous entries, Rhea has pretty much demolished the good old 7,000/30 story. Yet, and somewhat astonishingly, it’s still out there. I came across it just a couple of weeks ago from somebody who should know better. If I sound like Dimitri, so be it. I’ve always been puzzled that Grant in his Memoirs was so willing to “fess up” to Cold Harbor but was iron-willed against admitting to similar “failures”. For exampley, there were aspects of Spotsylvania and North Anna which were hardly paradigms of the military art, a number of poorly-executed missions outside Petersburg, and the debacle at the Crater. The most notable might be whether there was surprise on the morning of April 6, 1862. Any theories as to why?

  2. Joshism June 4, 2014 / 7:08 pm

    Does anyone know if Gordon Rhea is still planning a 5th book in the Overland Campaign?

    The first 4 books were published 2-3 years apart and in a 2006 CSPAN2 interview Rhea says he is writing another book that covers the end of the Overland Campaign after June 3rd and the first attacks on Petersburg. But 7 years later it seems such a book by Rhea has still not been published.

  3. Noma June 5, 2014 / 11:15 am

    I’d like to hear opinions how Fuller’s perspective meshes in with all this:

    “…In the history of the Civil War the battle of Cold Harbor has been given a tactical prominence which it certainly does not merit. It was not a great battle, or a decisive battle, or a very costly battle, for Lee’s loss was slight and Grant’s amounted to 5,617, of whom 1,100 were killed and 4,517 were wounded. Why then, has it been so greatly magnified?

    The reasons are not far to seek — they are political. The North looked for a speedy termination of the war, and was disappointed. Intrigue was rife; the Presidential election was approaching;p the cost of war was growing apace, and every day saw heart-rending casualties.

    To the politicians and to the masses generally, Cold Harbor was the checkmate of Grant, and as is ever the case with the people — from unfounded optimism, they sank into unfounded pessimism.

    They had in their ignorance expected victory, and now in their ignorance they accepted defeat, a defeat of their own making; for the true strategical value of Cold Harbor was not that Grant had failed to overthrow Lee, nor was it that he was now compelled to seek a new solution; but that his check, not a checkmate, disappointed the canaille, who being denied Lee’s blood, in place demanded his own…”

    — J.F.C. Fuller – The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant – p. 274

    • Bert June 8, 2014 / 3:49 pm

      Interesting (and poetic) analysis. Haven’t read Fuller and have just added him to my reading list.

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