Skip to main content

Civil War Trust

Wilderness - History Under Siege

The Wilderness
May 5-7, 1864

The opening battle of Grant’s sustained offensive against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, known as the Overland Campaign, was fought at the Wilderness, May 5-7. On the morning of May 5, 1864, the Union V Corps attacked Ewell’s Corps on the Orange Turnpike, while A.P. Hill’s corps during the afternoon encountered Getty’s Division (VI Corps) and Hancock’s II Corps on the Plank Road. Fighting was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the dense woods. Darkness halted the fighting, and both sides rushed forward reinforcements.  At dawn on May 6, Hancock attacked along the Plank Road, driving Hill’s Corps back in confusion. Longstreet’s Corps arrived in time to prevent the collapse of the Confederate right flank. At noon, a devastating Confederate flank attack in Hamilton’s Thicket sputtered out when Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was wounded by his own men. The IX Corps (Burnside) moved against the Confederate center, but was repulsed. Union generals James S. Wadsworth and Alexander Hays were killed. Confederate generals John M. Jones, Micah Jenkins, and Leroy A. Stafford were killed. The battle was a tactical draw. Grant, however, did not retreat as had the other Union generals before him. On May 7, the Federals advanced by the left flank toward the crossroads of Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Preservation

209 Acres Saved

Threats

Most Endangered

Battle Facts

Campaign

  • Grant's Overland Campaign

Battles In This Campaign

Location

Dates

  • May 5 - 7, 1864

Union Commander

Confederate Commander

Forces Engaged

  • 101,895 Union Union Flag
  • 61,025 Confederate Confederate Flag

Estimated Casualties

  • 18,400 UnionUnion Flag
  • 11,400 ConfederateConfederate Flag

Result

  • Inconclusive

Our Sponsors

Powered by Convio
nonprofit software