The Wilderness

Wilderness Battle Hero

The Wilderness

You are here

SHARE THIS
 

The first clash between Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee occurred in a dense, secondary growth forest west of Fredericksburg, Virginia known as the Wilderness. Fighting erupted late in the morning of May 5, 1864, as Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's Union Fifth Corps attacked Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps on the Orange Turnpike. Although the Federal infantry managed to break through at several points, the Confederate line held. The battle then shifted to the south as Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's Third Corps engaged Union Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps and elements of Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick's Sixth Corps for control of the Orange Plank Road and Brock Road intersection. Darkness brought an end to the fighting with Hancock in firm control of the junction. Before daylight on May 6, Hancock attacked west along the Orange Plank Road and smashed through Hill's line. Fortunately for Lee, Confederate reinforcements arrived under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet arrived in time to stabilize the position. A series of Confederate attacks throughout the day pushed back the Union infantry, however, Lee was unable to break the Federal line. Rather than retreat, Grant elected to continue the campaign.  He issued orders on the morning of May 7 to disengage and march to Spotsylvania Courthouse in an effort to get between Lee and Richmond.

 

Battle Facts

Result

Inconclusive
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
162,920

Union

101,895

Confederate

61,025
Total Estimated Casualties
29,800

Union

17,000

Confederate

13,000