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Monday, May 12, 2014

Remembering the Battle of Spotsylvania - 150 Years Later

This week marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Spotsylvania, a brutal eleven-day campaign that concluded in a virtual stalemate. Following the Battle of the Wilderness Union General Ulysses S. Grant, unlike his predecessors, chose to pursue Confederate General Robert E. Lee toward Richmond in an attempt to position himself between Lee and the Confederate capital of Richmond, cutting him off from his supply line. However, General Lee had the advantage of a smaller army that knew the terrain, and was able to obtain the military advantage of geographical position before Grant. On May 12 the brutality of this conflict manifested in a pastoral location known to history as "The Bloody Angle," where Union and Confederate forces engaged all-day in severe fighting that produced heavy casualties for both sides.

My second great-granduncle Oliver Bates served with the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment at Spotsylvania with General Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps and was wounded at the Bloody Angle conflict on May 12. Apparently his injuries were not severe, as he continued to fight in the subsequent battles of the Overland Campaign in May and June 1864. On May 18 General Grant departed south again, hoping once more to beat General Lee in the race to Richmond. 1

For additional information about Oliver Bates and the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment please visit http://20thmassregt150.blogspot.com.

1Compiled service record, Oliver S. Bates, Pvt., Co. A, 20th Massachusetts Infantry; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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