The Wilderness, Virginia ( May 5-7 1864)
Part of the Overland Campaign, The Wilderness Battles were just part of a group of battles between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee in the spring of 1864. Grant used this campaign to shepherd Lee’s forces into a tight spot in Richmond and Petersburg Virginia, where he would eventually cause Lee to surrender his army in April of 1865.
The Overland Campaign was a major offensive for the North, one filled with wins and losses for both great generals.
The Wilderness Statistics
Total Troops: North – 101,895 South – 61,025
Casualties: North – 17,666 South – 11,125 Total – 28,791
What needs to be understood about the Overland campaign is that it wasn’t about one battle for Grant. In the grand scheme of things, the campaign was about moving Lee into a position where Grant could eventually beat him, which is what he did. But if you look at the campaign from a casualty perspective, the North lost many more than the South did. What was important for Grant, however, was the eventual outcome.
The Battle of the Wilderness took place in the countryside outskirts of Spotsylvania. The battle itself was inconclusive, as Grant moved on his forces on without being able to move past Lee’s army.
This particular battle took place in a dense woods, and each of the two armies carried out maneuvers to flank, however neither of them gained any ground.
By May 7, after two days off getting nowhere, Grant disengaged and moved south-east towards the Spotsylvania Court House, where he hoped to keep moving Lee into the position he needed him to be in.