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Spotsylvania Court House - Mule Shoe, May 12, 1864

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Spotsylvania Court House - Mule Shoe, May 12, 1864
Spotsylvania Court House - Mule Shoe, May 12, 1864

Civil War Trust’s map of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House - Mule Shoe

By May 12, the Confederates had established a long line of earthworks, which included a huge half-mile bulge in the Confederate line, called the Muleshoe Salient. Basing his plan off of Col. Emory Upton’s attack on May 10, Grant massed the 20,000 men of the Second Corps opposite the tip of the Muleshoe. Lee noted the Federal movement, but mistakenly believed Grant was preparing to withdraw, removed his artillery from the salient. Thus, when Hancock’s men advanced on the morning of May 12 they broke through the Confederate line that was without artillery. After the initial break through, however, Lee shifted reinforcements into salient just as Grant hurled more troops at the Confederate works. Fighting devolved into a point-blank slugfest amid a torrential downpour which lasted for 22 hours and claimed roughly 17,000 lives.

Learn More: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House