Battle Of The Wilderness Essay Research Paper
Battle Of The Wilderness Essay, Research Paper
The Battle of the Wilderness
Imagine, wrote a North Carolina officer named W.A. Smith, a
great, blue forest containing. . . the worst sort of brush of second-growth
trees. . . so thick with little pines and scrub oak, cedar, cornel and other
growing common to the state. . . [ that ] one could see hardly 10 gaits
( qtd. in Kennedy 203 ) . This description is of the country known as the
Wilderness, where over 135 old ages ago, one of the greatest Civil War conflicts
occurred. The Battle of the Wilderness was the beginning of the terminal for the
Confederate States of America.
The part called the Wilderness is in Spotsylvania County, Virginia,
merely 10 stat mis west of Fredericksburg. It is a natural wooded country that is
12 stat mis broad and six stat mis deep along the southern bank of the Rapidan
River. The Wilderness was described by Lieutenant Thomas F. Galwey of
the 8th Ohio as a wild and formidable brush, so heavy that even at midday
twenty-four hours the Sun s visible radiation barely penetrated it ( qtd.
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in Trudeau 44 ) .
In the early 1700 s, Alexander Spotswood, Virginia s governor during
the clip, tried to populate the Wilderness. He brought over German settlers
to make so. They cut big sums of lumber from the wood to procure the mine
tunnels, plank the roads, and fuel the iron-smelting operations. But when the
program failed and the country was abandoned, the forest grew back really rapidly,
making a second-growth forest ( Kennedy 203 ) .
On May 5 and 6, 1864, two ground forcess, the Army of the Potomac of the
Union and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Confederate States of
America, engaged in a barbarous conflict known as the Battle of the Wilderness.
The conflict included over 160,000 work forces, with around 100,000 coming from the
Union and near to 62,000 from the Confederacy ( Wilderness ) . Lieutenant
General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General George G. Meade led the
Union s Army of the Potomac, and General Robert E. Lee commanded the
Confederacy s Army of Northern Virginia.
The Army of the Potomac was commanded by Major General George
G. Meade, who received his orders from Lieutenant General Grant. Allow
made his central offices in the field with the ground forces to guarantee his orders were
followed right. The Union ground forces consisted of three corps and an
independent corps commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside, who
outranked Meade and reported straight to Grant ( Graham and Skoch 68 ) .
The II Corps was led by Major General Winfield S. Hancock, the V Corps by
Major General Gouverneur Warren, and the VI Corps by Major General John
The Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E.
Lee, consisted of three corps. The First Corps was commanded by
Lieutenant General James Longstreet. The Second Corps was commanded
by Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell. The Third Corps was commanded
by Lieutenant General A. P. Hill.
Part of Grant s expansive program was to travel rapidly to the South through
the Wilderness before the Confederates reacted. The Wilderness posed a
serious menace of an ambuscade that could do a terrible reverse to the Union s
run. Grant knew that a conflict in an unfastened field would be a certain triumph
for his ground forces over Lee s out-numbered Army of Northern Virginia ( Trudeau
44 ) . All Grant s army needed was a half-day caput start on Lee s ground forces to
cross the Rapidan River and derive the advantage ( Davis 197 ) .
Even though he was outnumbered about two to one, Lee possessed a
few advantages, chiefly his place South of the Rapidan River. The Army of
the Potomac had to traverse this river to acquire to him. Besides, General Lee knew the
land better than his oppositions, Grant and Meade. However, his greatest
advantage was the impenetrable flora of the Wilderness. Lee believed
he could utilize the wood to keep off twice the figure of his work forces ( Davis 197 ) .
The Union began its motion into the Wilderness early on May 4,
1864, when it separated into two columns and headed to fords a few stat mis
apart, at which they crossed the Rapidan River and entered the Wilderness.
The V and VI Corps crossed the river at Germanna Ford Road. Hancock s II
Corps and the Union ground forces supply train crossed the river at Ely s Ford to
cantonment at near-by Chancellorsville. Grant ordered Burnside to halt buttocks and
guard the railway North of Rappahannock Station from Confederate plunderers.
After he was across, Grant sent a message to the War Department in
Washington. The crossing of the Rapidan effected, he wrote. Forty-eight
hours now will show whether the enemy intends giving conflict this side
of Richmond ( qtd in Graham and Skoch 68 ) . Besides, after his crossing, Grant
learned of Lee s purposes. A Confederate message for Lieutenant General
Ewell had been intercepted and translated to We are traveling ( Graham and
Skoch 68 ) .
Around mid-morning on May 4, Lee learned of the Union motion
and without cognizing of Grant s programs, he moved his three corps toward the
Wilderness on different paths. Ewell s Second Corps was directed to process
on the Orange Turnpike and A. P. Hill s Third Corps to process on the Orange
Plank Road, analogue and South of Ewell. Longstreet s First Corps, who was a
twenty-four hours behind the other two, was directed to take the Catharpin Road to Todd s
During the dark, Hancock was ordered to travel his II Corps South to
organize the left wing of the Union line. When everyone was in Li
ne, the ground forces
moved at first visible radiation on May 5. To protect the right wing, Warren sent a
division West on the Orange Turnpike. The Union plans to unclutter the
Wilderness were so disrupted when Warren s V Corps spotted Ewell s work forces
coming toward them. After larning of the Confederate military personnels on the Orange
Turnpike, Meade ordered Warren to concentrate his work forces on the turnpike and
onslaught every bit shortly as possible. Besides, Meade ordered Sedgwick s VI Corps to the
turnpike to guard the right wing. Grant sent orders to concentrate his three
corps along a line between the turnpike and Orange Plank Road with great
importance put on the Brock Rd.-Orange Plank Rd. intersection. If the
Confederates gained this intersection, the II Corps would be cut off from the
remainder of the ground forces.
The first combat began early in the afternoon on May 5 between
Warren s V Corps and Ewell s Second Corps on the Orange Turnpike and in
a little glade known as Saunders Field. The contending moved easy south
as more units came to the line. The Union Corps had the beginning additions, but
they were pushed back by the countermoves of the Confederates. Even after
Sedgwicks VI Corps joined Warren s work forces in the late afternoon, no
advantages were gained by either side.
To the South, A.P. Hill was less successful. A little figure of Union
horse delayed Hill s motion east long plenty for a Union division to
take over the of import intersection of Orange Plank and Brock roads. Subsequently
in the afternoon, Hancock s II Corps arrived and launched an uncoordinated
but powerful onslaught that was eventually stopped by the usage of every modesty
available to the Confederates.
By nightfall, the northern half of the Confederate line was injured but
solid, and the southern half was scattered, tired, and ill-prepared for what
would come. General Lee did non desire to contend a big conflict with lone
two-thirds of his ground forces, so he downplayed the job ( Kennedy 205 ) .
Around midnight, he refused A.P. Hill s request to reorganize by giving him the
alibi that Longstreet s First Corps would get in clip to take the force per unit area
off of his work forces.
The forenoon of May 6 came, but Longstreet did non. Allow ordered his
ground forces to assail at first visible radiation. The Union onslaughts of the Orange Turnpike were
uneffective because of strong Confederate defences. To the South, Union
forces saw some success, but it did non last long. Merely when the Confederate
right wing appeared defeated, Longstreet s First Corps arrived. Their brutal
countermove surprised the Union aggressors and sent them into a deadlock.
The strength of Longstreet s reaching was strengthened when Lee, himself,
take the counterstriking units across the unfastened Fieldss of the Tapp Farm. The
calls of Lee to the rear made this one of the most memorable episodes of
conflict ( Kennedy 205 ) .
Early on in the eventide, an full-scale Confederate offense raged over both
wings of the Union line. The onslaught in the Fieldss along the Orange Plank
Road was stopped at the Brock Road line. To the North, Confederate
Brigadier General John B. Gordon led his work forces to an assault on the Union
right wing. He was successful, but his additions were overseen by nightfall and
the involuntariness of the field commanding officer, Major General Jubal Early, to
Late in the afternoon, Major General Longstreet was hit. He and his
work forces were traveling around the Union left flank when shootings came from the
forests. The shooting hit Longstreet in his pharynx and went into his shoulder,
doing terrible hemorrhage. This hurt took Longstreet off of his bid and
into bed for several hebdomads.
The heavy combat in the Wilderness costed both ground forcess near to
30,000 casualties. The Army of the Potomac had close to 18,000 casualties,
where as the Army of Northern Virginia s casualties were estimated around
11,000. Many wounded soldiers were burned to decease after the prohibitionist
underbrush caught on fire and spreaded really rapidly. A northern private
wrote that it was a blind and bloody Hunt to the decease, in perplexing
brushs, instead than a conflict ( qtd in Kennedy 206 ) . It is estimated that 200
Union work forces died in the fire ( Hansen 511 ) .
The Wilderness Battlefield is now portion of the Fredericksburg and
Spotsylvania National Military Park. The country is on State Route 3, West of
Fredericksburg, Virginia. There are 1,981 estates of this historic battleground
within the boundaries of the park, 212 of these are in private owned ( Kennedy
205 ) .
During the May 5 and 6 conflict in the Wilderness, about full force of
both ground forcess were engaged. With both sides holding heavy losingss, neither
could name this a triumph, even though the Battle of the Wilderness marked the
beginning of the terminal for the Army of Northern Virginia and for the
Davis, William C. The Battlefields of the Civil War. New York: Smithmark
Publishers, 1991: 195-211.
Graham, Martin and George Skoch. Great Battles of the Civil War. New
York: Beekman House, n.d. : 66-70.
Hansen, Harry. The Civil War A History. New York: Penguin Books,
Kennedy, Frances H. , erectile dysfunction. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. New York:
Houghton Mifflin, 1990: 203-206.
Trudeau, Noah Andre. A Atrocious and Frightening Place. Civil War Times
May 1999: 43-55.
Wilderness. Online. Internet. 5-6-99. Available
hypertext transfer protocol: //www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/va046.htm