Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant

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.” [Wikimedia Commons]

Battle of Cold Harbor Facts

May 31–June 12, 1864

Key facts about the Battle of Cold Harbor.

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Also Known As

  • Second Battle of Cold Harbor

Date

  • May 31–June 12, 1864

Location

  • East-central Virginia, in what is now Mechanicsville

Campaign

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Potomac

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of Northern Virginia

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)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 5,287 (killed, wounded and missing/captured)

Result

  • Confederate victory

Significance

  • 1,844 Union soldiers were killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor.
  • 83 Confederate soldiers were killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor.
  • 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.
  • 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 Overland Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Overland Campaign in order.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Cold Harbor Facts
  • Coverage May 31–June 12, 1864
  • Author
  • Keywords battle of cold harbor
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 16, 2021
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