Battle of the Wilderness Facts, Details, and Timeline

May 5–7, 1864

Facts about the Battle of the Wilderness, 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.

James Longstreet, Portrait, Confederate General

On May 6, 1864, Confederate soldiers severely wounded General James Longstreet (pictured here) during the Battle of the Wilderness just a few miles from where General Stonewall Jackson’s troops mortally wounded him at the Battle of Chancellorsville a year earlier. Image Source: Wikimedia.

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Definition

The Battle of the Wilderness was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America from May 5 to May 7, 1864, during the American Civil War.

Quick Facts

  • Date Started: The Battle of the Wilderness started on Thursday, May 5, 1864.
  • Date Ended: The fighting ended on Saturday, May 7, 1864.
  • Location: The battle took place in Spotsylvania and Orange Counties, Virginia.
  • Who Won: The outcome of the battle was inconclusive, so there was no clear winner.
  • Civil War Campaign: The Battle of Wilderness was part of the Overland Campaign.

Battle of the Wilderness, Fighting Near Todd's Tavern, Painting

This painting depicts fighting during the Battle of the Wilderness. Image Source: Wikipedia.

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Interesting Facts

  • Although Major General George Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of the Wilderness, Meade’s superior, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, accompanied the Union army during the battle and throughout the remainder of the Overland Campaign.
  • On May 6, 1864, Confederate soldiers severely wounded General James Longstreet during the Battle of the Wilderness just a few miles from where General Stonewall Jackson’s troops mortally wounded him at the Battle of Chancellorsville a year earlier.
  • Although the Federals suffered higher casualties, the Battle of the Wilderness was tactically inconclusive; neither army defeated the other.
  • Unlike other Union generals who retreated after suffering high losses in battles near the Wilderness (Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg in December 1862 and Joseph Hooker at Chancellorsville in 1863) Grant ordered Meade to disengage, march around the Army of Northern Virginia and forge farther into Southern territory.

Commanders and Forces Involved

Principal Union Ccommanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Potomac

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of Northern Virginia

Casualties and Statistics

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 124,232

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 60 – 65,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 17,666 (2,246 killed, 12,037 wounded, 3,383 captured/missing)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 11,033 (1,477 killed, 7,866 wounded, 1,690 captured/missing)

Results of the Battle of the Wilderness

Despite heavy casualties, Ulysses S. Grant did not retreat, as many Union commanders had done in the past. Instead, he ordered Meade to disengage, march his army around Lee’s forces, and move deeper into Confederate territory, southeast towards Spotsylvania Court House.

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Timeline of the Battle of the Wilderness

This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the Battle of the Wilderness, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Overland Campaign.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of the Wilderness Facts, Details, and Timeline
  • Coverage May 5–7, 1864
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of the Wilderness, Civil War Facts for Kids, Social Studies Resources, APUSH Study Material
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date October 4, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 18, 2022

Battle of the Wilderness Facts, Details, and Timeline is Part of the Following on AHC

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