The Battle of Cold Harbor: June 3, 1864
...that their dead bodies might be identified."

Cold Harbor - Earthwork remains.Charging substantial Confederate entrenchments over open ground, Union soldiers were slaughtered by the thousands. Confederate General John Brown Gordon, would later in his memoirs offer his thoughts on the bravery of the Union soldiers they fought this day.

" Cold Harbor, where a supreme effort was made to rip open Lee's lines by driving through them the stiff and compact Union columns, and where the slaughtered Federals presented the ghastliest scene ever witnessed on any field of the war, General Grant decided promptly and wisely to abandon further efforts on the north side and cross to the south side of the James River...Shocking as had been the slaughter of Union troops in their last charges, costly and hopeless as succeeding assaults must have appeared to the practised eye and sharpened comprehension of Grant's veterans, they still seemed ready for the sacrifice if demanded by necessity or ordered by the commanding general...

With the "appalling revelry" of the last futile onsets still ringing in their ears, with the unburied bodies of their dead comrades lying in full view on the blood-stained stretch of wooded swamp and plain at Cold Harbor, these self-immolating men were calmly and courageously preparing for the next charge and sacrifice. According to General Porter, who was in a position to know whereof he affirms, there was not the slightest indication of rebellion or defiance of orders, not a trace of stubbornness or sullenness in the bearing of these battered Federals; but they were quietly sewing to their jackets strips of cloth marked with their names, in order that their dead bodies might be identified the next day amidst the prospective débris of the coming storm."

Remains of Cold Harbor Earthworks.

In a letter to President Jefferson Davis, General Lee would offer his thoughts with less obvious emotion.

June 3, 1864--8.45 p.m.

Richmond, Va.

SIR: About 4.30 a.m. to-day the enemy made an attack upon the right of our line. In front of General Hoke's and part of General Breckinridge's line he was repulsed without difficulty. He succeeded in penetrating a salient on General Breckinridge's line and captured a portion of the battalion there posted. General Finegan's brigade, of Mahone's division, and the Maryland Battalion, of Breckinridge's command, immediately drove the enemy out with severe loss. Repeated attacks were made upon General Anderson's position, chiefly against his right, under General Kershaw. They were met with great steadiness and repulsed in every instance. The attack extended to our extreme left, under General Early, with like results. Later in the day it was twice renewed against General Heth, who occupies Early's left, but was repulsed with loss. General Hampton encountered the enemy's cavalry near Haw's Shop, and a part of General William H. F. Lee's division drove them from their intrenchments. General Fitzhugh Lee's division occupies the south side of the Chickahominy as far as Long Bridge, with pickets extending across to the James.

Our loss to-day has been small, and our success, under the blessing of God, all that we could expect.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,