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Wilderness Campaign

The Wilderness was a large area of trees and thick underbrush located in Spotsylvania and Orange counties, about 10 miles west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. During May and June, 1864, this was the scene of some of the most savage fighting in the Civil War, including the battles of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor. The ever increasing numerical advantage of Union over Confederate forces was beginning to dominate the military equation. The Battle of The Wilderness began with an attack by General Grant, nowwith the entire Union army under his command, against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Meade sent more than 100,000 Union troops against Lee's army of less than 70,000 on May 5. Despite enduring some 18,000 soldiers killed in action, Grant ordered Meade to proceed towards Spotsylvania Court House. Another 14,000 had died during this campaign by May 18, but Grant perservered. Pushing against Lee's right flank, Union forces lost an additional 13,000 soldiers' lives on the way to Cold Harbor between June 3 and 12. The immense losses were greeted with dismay in the North, but Grant's strategy was working. He was able to continue to bring reinforcements to bear, while Lee could muster no more. Despite the casualties, Grant was continuing to press towards Richmond.