Introduction - Battle of Cold Harbor
The Battle of Cold Harbor was one of the American Civil War's bloodiest battles and a great victory for the Confederate Army. Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered attacks on well entrenched Confederate positions which resulted in great losses for the Union Army; Grant would later say "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made". On this page we list interesting kid-friendly facts about this battle including where the battle was fought, how many casualties there were, when it was fought, and why the battle took place.
Please note that this battle is sometimes called the Second Battle of Cold Harbor due to there being an earlier battle on the same site. The earlier battle, the Battle of Gaines Mill, fought on June 27th of 1862, is sometimes referred to as the First Battle of Cold Harbor.
Battle of Cold Harbor Quick Facts
- The battle was fought from May 31st through June 12th of 1864.
- The Confederate commander was the legendary General Robert E. Lee and the Union commanders were future U.S. President General Ulysses S. Grant who supervised Union General Meade.
- This battle was part of General Grant's Overland campaign, which involved several battles fought in Virginia.
- General Grant regarded the crossroads at Old Cold Harbor as a vital intersection for attacking the Confederates as part of his Overland campaign.
- The battle pitted approximately 62,000 Confederate soldiers against about 108,000 Union soldiers.
- The battle location was approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of the Confederate capital, Richmond Virginia in what is now the town of Mechanicsville.
- The battles casualties were 13,000 for the Union and 2,500 for the Confederates.
Interesting Battle of Cold Harbor Facts
- While digging trenches in preparation for the battle, soldiers unearthed skeletal remains of soldiers who had fought at the Battle of Gaines Mill two years earlier at the same site.
- Cold Harbor is located in central Virginia, nowhere near the ocean; it gets its name from the Cold Harbor Tavern located near the battlefield.
- This battle would be the last major victory for General Lee and his Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
Battle of Cold Harbor - Timeline
- May 31st, 1864 - The Union cavalry seizes the crossroads at Old Cold Harbor and holds it against Confederate attacks and begin to dig defensive trenches.
- June 1st, 1864 - Additional Union troops arrive at the battlefield and attack the Confederate positions west of the crossroads; they have limited success.
- June 2nd, 1864 - Both armies receive numerous reinforcements. The Confederate soldiers build fortifications that stretch for several mile.
- June 3rd, 1864 - At 4:30 A.M. Union forces launch an attack against the well-entrenched Confederate Army; they are decimated. The Confederate forces suffer relatively few casualties compared to the heavy Union casualties.
- June 4th - June 11th, 1864 - After June 3rd the Union did not launch any more infantry or Calvary attacks on the Confederate positions at Cold Harbor. Instead, the battle turned into several days of trench warfare with both sides bombarding the other with artillery. Sharpshooters were also used.
- June 12th, 1864 - The Union Army leaves Cold Harbor and moves southeast towards the crucial Confederate city of Petersburg Virginia.