M43-MAY 1864

The worst sustained fighting of the war took place. The armies in Virginia fought throughout May, and Robert E. Lee lost two top lieutenants. William T. Sherman edged closer to the prized city of Atlanta, but other Federal efforts were not as effective. Both the Lincoln and Davis administrations faced increasing criticism and resentment from their constituencies.

Battle of Spotsylvania | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

The Virginia Overland Campaign: Final Preparations

1 May – The Federal Army of the Potomac prepared to cross the Rapidan River and begin its long-awaited offensive in northern Virginia.

The Red River: Federal Disaster Looms

2 May – Major General Frederick Steele’s Federal Army of Arkansas began returning to Little Rock, while Federal naval forces on the Red River in Louisiana were in grave danger of being stranded in shallow water.

The Georgia Campaign: Final Preparations

3 May – Major General William T. Sherman assembled three Federal armies to confront General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee in northern Georgia.

The James River Campaign Begins

4 May – Another front opened in Virginia, as Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s Federal Army of the James boarded transports at Yorktown to move up the James River.

The Army of the Potomac Moves Out

4 May – The Federal Army of the Potomac moved out to begin its long-anticipated offensive, now with Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in overall command.

The Battle of the Wilderness

5 May – General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia caught the Federal Army of the Potomac in the forbidding Wilderness, and a chaotic battle opened the spring campaign.

The Battle of the Wilderness: Day Two

6 May – Fighting raged a second day as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant learned that General Robert E. Lee would not be an easy foe to overcome.

Georgia: Sherman Begins Moving

7 May – Major General William T. Sherman’s three Federal armies began its part of the grand offensive by moving to draw the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph E. Johnston out into the open where it could be destroyed.

The Battle of Spotsylvania Begins

8 May – After two terrible days in the Wilderness, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant led the Federal Army of the Potomac into a new battle that promised to become even more terrible.

Spotsylvania: Attacking the Mule Shoe

10 May – The Federal Army of the Potomac launched an all-out assault on Confederates defending Spotsylvania Court House, with particular emphasis on a salient in the defense line. More horrific casualties resulted.

The Battle of Yellow Tavern

11 May – Major General Philip Sheridan embarked on a Federal cavalry raid intended to disrupt Confederate supply lines and destroy the famed command of Major General Jeb Stuart.

The Death of Jeb Stuart

12 May – The “Cavalier of Dixie” succumbed to a wound suffered at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, and another legendary Confederate general was gone.

Spotsylvania: Terrible Fighting at the Mule Shoe

12 May – Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant ordered a massive Federal assault on a salient in the line of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Georgia: The Armies Gather at Resaca

13 May – Major General William T. Sherman shifted his Federals southeast to try moving around General Joseph E. Johnston’s flank, but Johnston shifted to block them.

Showdown Looms in the Shenandoah Valley

13 May – Major General John C. Breckinridge’s Confederates moved out to confront Major General Franz Sigel’s Federal Army of West Virginia advancing south “up” Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The Battle of Resaca

14 May – The armies of Major General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston clashed in northern Georgia, as Sherman still looked to slide around the Confederate flank.

The Battle of New Market

15 May – Major General John C. Breckinridge led a makeshift Confederate army in trying to stop the Federal drive up Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The James River: Drewry’s Bluff

15 May – Opposing armies assembled at Drewry’s Bluff, about five miles from Richmond on the James River, and both commanders planned to attack.

The Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff

16 May – General P.G.T. Beauregard launched an attack on Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s Federals as they timidly approached Richmond from the south.

Georgia: From Adairsville to the Etowah

17 May – General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee established positions around Adairsville after retreating southward from Resaca.

Spotsylvania: Federals Attack Again

18 May – Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant directed his Federals to launch another attack in hopes of turning the flank of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

The Gold Hoax

18 May – A forged presidential proclamation was sent to the press in an effort to drive up the price of gold. This caused an uproar throughout the North.

The Shenandoah Valley: Sigel Ousted

19 May – Major General John C. Breckinridge’s Confederates began leaving the Shenandoah Valley, and Major General Franz Sigel was replaced as Federal commander in the region.

Northern Virginia: Race to the North Anna

20 May –

The Red River Campaign Ends

20 May –

Georgia: Confederates Hold Allatoona

21 May –

Northern Virginia: Showdown at the North Anna

22 May –

The Battle of the North Anna

23 May –

The Battle of the North Anna: Lee Sets a Trap

24 May –

The Battle of New Hope Church

25 May –

The Battle of Haw’s Shop

26 May –

Battles at Pickett’s Mill and Dallas

27 May –

Grant and Lee Shift Toward Cold Harbor

30 May –

The Radical Republican Convention

31 May –

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Last Updated: 5/19/2019

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