Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cold Harbor: The Awe-Inspiring and Terrible Battle

Today in 1864, the Union Army launched its doomed assault on Cold Harbor, Va. It failed miserably.

I recall my visit to the site. The battle occurred along a seven-mile front. That is a huge distance. Imagine 50,000 soldiers attacking a series of positions all at once. It is amazing when you think about it. When I saw the preserved portion of the battlefield, barely a mile or two remained. I'd call it the remains of the Cold Harbor battlefield.

To General Grant's credit, he did express regret in his memoirs for ordering the assault. It is a rare general who admits error.

The defenses that the Confederates erected in 1864 were quite impressive. When I went to Spotsylvania, I saw trenches that still exist today. Outmanned and outgunned, tje Confederates held out for over a year. They truly pioneered trench warfare, which the Germans and Allies would later use in the First World War. The South put an end to the Napoleonic charge.

Unfortunately, the generals would not realize this lesson until the end of World War I. Burnside, Lee and Grant all made the same mistakes. The military fraternity is often too conservative in its thinking.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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