The plight the South found itself in was highlighted when the Confederate government ordered that men up to the age of 70 could be conscripted into the army. Grant lost a considerable number of men at Cold Harbor but they could be replaced. Any loss for the South now was of much greater harm.
June 1st: The Battle of Cold Harbor started. Grant attacked Lee’s position near to the 1862 Seven Days battlefields.
Sherman sent out nearly 7,000 troops (3,000 cavalry and nearly 4,000 infantry) to hunt down the cavalry of Bedford Forrest, who continued to be a serious problem along Sherman’s supply lines. It was Bedford Forrest’s cavalry that was associated with the Fort Pillow, Tennessee, incident.
June 2nd: Grant spent the day improving the entrenchments of his army.
Having captured the Allatoona Pass, Sherman was able to speed up his drive to Atlanta.
June 3rd: At 04.30 Grant launched a major attack on Lee’s positions at Cold Harbor. However, Lee’s men were well dug in and in just one hour the Union force lost 7,000 men. The Confederates lost 1,500 men. At 12.00 Grant called off the attack. If the attack had been successful nothing would have stopped Grant and the Army of the Potomac getting to Richmond – just eight miles away. Those living in the city could hear the cannon fire.
June 5th: The South suffered a major defeat at Piedmont in the Shenandoah Valley. A Confederate force of 5,000 suffered 1,500 casualties, including the loss of their commanding officer, General W E Jones. The Confederate army was incapable of sustaining a 30% loss.
June 6th: Union troops commanded by Major-General David Hunter destroyed much private property in the Shenandoah Valley.
June 8th: Lincoln received the nomination from the National Union Convention to stand for president in the forthcoming election. The party platform was that there should be no compromise with the South.
June 10th: The Confederate Congress introduced military service for all men in the South aged between 17 and 70.
Bedford Forrest defeated a large Union force at Brice’s Cross Roads, Mississippi. Forrest had 3,500 men under his command while the Union cavalry force, commanded by General Samuel Stugis, stood at 8,000. The Union army suffered over 25% casualties (a total of 2,240) to Forrest’s total loss of 492 men.
June 12th: After some days of military inactivity, the Army of the Potomac moved out of its lines at Cold Harbor. However, while the army had not been fighting, it had been constructing better roads and pontoons to allow for the swifter movement of men and supplies. Such planning paid off.
June 13th: Lee withdrew his army to Richmond in the belief that Grant had built the roads and pontoons to allow his army to get behind the Army of Northern Virginia and attack Richmond. Lee was wrong in his assessment.
June 14th: The South lost one of its top generals, Leonidas Polk. Killed by artillery fire on Pine Mountain, Polk was not a great strategic commander but he was popular with his men and his loss was a bitter blow to the morale of the Army of the Tennessee.
June 15th: The North started a major assault on Petersburg, the ‘backdoor to Richmond’.
June 16th: More units from the Army of the Potomac joined the attack on Petersburg. Against the odds, the defenders held out.
June 17th: The defenders of Petersburg managed a counter-attack. It was not successful, but it did stop the Union troops from advancing any nearer to Petersburg.
June 18th: Lee’s main army arrived at Petersburg to bolster the city’s defences. The North carried out the last of its attacks – the four days fighting for Petersburg had cost the Union 8,000 men.
June 20th: Grant decided to besiege Petersburg. He concluded that even the Army of the Potomac could not sustain further heavy losses.
June 21st: President Lincoln paid a visit to the Army of the Potomac. Grant enlivened the command of the army by appointing new generals. He hoped that new blood would invigorate the way the Army of the Potomac is led. One of his appointments was General David Birney who was given the command of II Corps.
June 22nd: The Confederates launched a ferocious attack on Birney’s II Corps at Jerusalem Plank Road. Birney lost 604 killed, 2494 wounded and 1600 captured. The Confederates lost in total 500 men.
June 25th: Union forces started to build a tunnel underneath one of the main Confederate redoubts in Petersburg.
June 27th: Sherman launched a major attack against Confederate positions at Kennesaw Mountain. The North’s forces were stopped just short of the Confederates front line. Union losses were 2,000 killed or wounded out of 16,000 men.
June 28th: Though they held Sherman at Kennesaw Mountain, the South knew that it was only a matter of time until it fell, such was the size of the force they were facing. Their commander here, Johnston, decided to pull back to the Chattahoochee River.