This Week in the Civil War - #833
At Spotsylvania, Virginia, after several days of comparable quiet on Wednesday, May 18, 1864 Union troops assaulted Lee’s left flank, failing to take the strong Confederate emplacements in a series of attacks. With Burnside’s and Meade’s troops failing to dislodge the Confederates, Ulysses Grant determined that the Confederate positions were too strong to be taken and ordered a flanking movement to the south and east, attempting to turn Lee’s right flank. Grant’s order ended the series of battles known as Spotsylvania; combined with Union losses in the Wilderness, Grant suffered the loss of over 33,000 men in a single month. However, his casualties could be replaced by the North; Southern casualties, although much lower, could not be so easily replaced. Grant had effectively started a war of attrition against Lee’s forces.