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Spotsylvania Court House - Upton’s Assault, May 10, 1864

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Spotsylvania Court House - Upton's Assault, May 10, 1864
Spotsylvania Court House - Upton's Assault, May 10, 1864

American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House - Upton’s Assault

Grant hoped to turn his luck on May 10 by attacking Lee north of the Po while Lee attacked Barlow’s division south of it. Warren and Hancock would make the main assault at Laurel Hill; General Horatio Wright and the Sixth Corps, would assail a small outward bulge in the Confederate line held by General George Doles’ Georgia brigade. General Gershom Mott’s Second Corps division and General Ambrose Burnside’s Ninth Corps would support by making their own attacks.

Wright delegated his attack to an earnest 25-year-old colonel named Emory Upton and assigned him a strike force of approximately 5,000 men. Upton’s target was a small outward bulge in the Confederate line defended by General George Doles’s Georgia brigade, located here. Upton formed his line just inside the woods ahead of you, and at 6:35 p.m., after a half-hour’s bombardment, attacked. Upton’s men covered the 200 yards of open ground between the woods and Doles’s logworks in a matter of seconds. Attacking with only the bayonet, they swept over the works, scooping up 1,000 prisoners, before pressing on and capturing a second line of works.

Lee immediately counterattacked, forcing Upton’s men to take shelter here, behind the outer line of works. The Federals doggedly hung on until dark when Upton, realizing that he was not going to receive reinforcements, ordered a withdrawal. The attack cost the Union army approximately 1,000 men, but it proved that a determined force, well led, could breach the Confederate works. It was a lesson not lost on Grant.

Learn More: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House