Battle of Wilderness: Characters

Union

1) Ulysses S. Grant (Union)

- 18th President of the US

- Grant crossed the Rapidan River on May 4 and attacked Lee in the Wilderness, a hard-fought battle with many casualties, lasting three days. Rather than retreat as his Union predecessors had done, Grant flanked Lee's Army of Virginia to the southeast and attempted to wedge the Union Army between Lee and Richmond at Spotsylvania (Battle of Spotsylvania Court House ensued).

2) George G. Meade (Union)

- On December 31, 1840, he married

- As a civilian he was a civil engineer who built several lighthouses.

- His father, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant serving in Spain as a naval agent for the U.S. government, was ruined financially because of his support of Spain in the Napoleonic Wars and died in 1828 while Meade was a young teenager. His family returned to the United States six months after his father's death, in precarious financial straits.

- Graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican-American War.

Confederate

3) Robert E. Lee (Confederate)

-Inconclusive (Lee's tactical victory, yet Grant continued his offensive.)
  • Lee's troop strength – 61,000, casualties – 11,400

  • Grant's troop strength – 102,000, casualties – 18,400
4) Lt. Gen. James Longstreet (Confederate)
- he was seriously wounded, at the Battle of the Wilderness

- Longstreet was wounded during the assault—accidentally shot by his own men only about 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the place where Stonewall Jackson suffered the same fate a year earlier. A bullet passed through his shoulder, severing nerves, and tearing a gash in his throat.

- Longstreet helped save the Confederate Army from defeat in his first battle back with Lee's army, the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, where he launched a powerful flanking attack along the Orange Plank Road against the Union II Corps and nearly drove it from the field. Once again he developed innovative tactics to deal with difficult terrain, ordering the advance of six brigades by heavy skirmish lines, which allowed his men to deliver a continuous fire into the enemy, while proving to be elusive targets themselves. Wilderness historian Edward Steere attributed much of the success of the Army to "the display of tactical genius by Longstreet which more than redressed his disparity in numerical strength.

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