Facts about the Battle of Cold Harbor, including dates, casualties, participants, who won, and more interesting details you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the battle and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.
The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America from May 31, 1864, to June 12, 1864, during the American Civil War.
- Also Known As: The Battle of Cold Harbor is also called the “Second Battle of Cold Harbor.”
- Date Started: The Battle of Cold Harbor started on Tuesday, May 31, 1864.
- Date Ended: The fighting ended on Sunday, June 12, 1864.
- Location: The battle took place in east-central Virginia, near present-day Mechanicsville, Virginia.
- Who Won: The Confederate States of America won the Battle of Cold Harbor.
- Civil War Campaign: The Battle of Cold Harbor was part of the Overland Campaign.
This illustration depicts fighting that took place on June 1, 1864, during the Battle of Cold Harbor. Image Source: Library of Congress.
- The Battle of Cold Harbor is also known as the Second Battle of Cold Harbor because it was fought on the same ground as the Battle of Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862), which is sometimes called the First Battle of Cold Harbor.
- Despite its name, Cold Harbor was not a port city. It described two rural crossroads named for the Cold Harbor Tavern, a local hotel located in the area that provided cold meals and lodging (harbor).
- The Battle of Cold Harbor was the last major battle in General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign.
- Although Major General George Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Meade’s superior, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, accompanied the Union army during the battle and throughout the Overland Campaign.
- The Battle of Cold Harbor was one of the worst Union defeats during the American Civil War.
Commanders and Forces Involved
Principal Union Commanders
Principal Confederate Commanders
- General Robert E. Lee
Union Forces Engaged
- Army of the Potomac
Confederate Forces Engaged
- Army of Northern Virginia
Casualties and Statistics
Number of Union Soldiers Engaged
- Roughly 108,000
Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged
- Roughly 62,000
Estimated Union Casualties
- 12,738 (killed, wounded, and missing/captured).
- 1,844 Union soldiers were killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor.
Estimated Confederate Casualties
- 5,287 (killed, wounded, and missing/captured).
- 83 Confederate soldiers were killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor.
Results of the Battle of Cold Harbor
- The outcome of the Battle of Cold Harbor was a Confederate victory.
- For four days after the June 3 attack at the Battle of Cold Harbor, thousands of wounded Union soldiers cried out in pain and suffering as Rebel sharpshooters prevented rescuers from rendering aid. Unwilling to acknowledge defeat, Grant refused to agree to a truce to attend to the wounded until June 7. By then, nearly all of the wounded had died.
- On May 12, Union General Ulysses S. Grant evacuated Cold Harbor and ordered the Army of the Potomac across the James River to begin an assault on Petersburg, a crucial supply depot for Richmond and Lee’s army, located to the south.
- In his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant wrote about the Battle of Cold Harbor, “I regret this assault more than any one I have ever ordered.”
Timeline of the Battle of Cold Harbor
This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the Battle of Cold Harbor, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Overland Campaign.
- May 5–7, 1864 — Battle of The Wilderness
- May 8–21, 1864 — Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
- May 11, 1864 — Battle of Yellow Tavern
- May 23–26, 1864 — Battle of North Anna
- May 24, 1864 — Battle of Wilson’s Wharf
- May 28, 1864— Battle of Haw’s Shop
- May 28–30, 1864 — Battle of Totopotomoy Creek
- May 30, 1864 — Battle of Old Church
- May 31–June 12, 1864 — Battle of Cold Harbor
- June 11-12, 1864 — Battle of Trevilian Station
- June 24, 1864 — Battle of Saint Mary’s Church