On June 1, 1864, the footsore infantrymen of the Union Army of the Potomac marched toward Cold Harbor, where earlier that day their mounted comrades had repulsed an attack by their old adversaries, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, lay just 9 miles beyond Cold Harbor. All that stood between the Yankees and Richmond was a portion of Lee’s army that was quickly digging in. If the Federals could strike before the Confederates could complete their entrenchments they could open the road to Richmond and, perhaps, to ultimate victory.
With the sun setting, two Union corps launched an attack against the Confederates, brushing aside a line of skirmishers before reaching the enemy’s half-finished earthworks. The ensuing fighting was savage, at times hand-to-hand, as the two sides struggled for possession of the trenches. Ultimately, the setting of the sun ended the fighting on June 1, and the Confederates were forced to fall back. There they would construct more earthworks—a line they would occupy against another Federal attack on June 3.
The Civil War Trust now has the historic opportunity to save 55 acres of the Cold Harbor battlefield in Virginia. These 55 acres include five tracts associated with the fighting on June 1 and June 3, including land over which the Federals charged in the fighting on June 1 and a key portion of the Confederate line held on June 3. Help us save some of the most important unprotected land left to save at this key battlefield outside Richmond.
Help Save Cold Harbor!