Battle of Wilderness: Summary

Summary

First battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign.

Both armies suffered heavy casualties.

The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.

Grant attempted to move quickly through the dense underbrush of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, but Lee launched troops on parallel roads to intercept him.

On May 5 fighting until dark was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the dense woods.

At dawn on May 6, Union attacked along the Plank Road. Confederates followed up with a surprise flanking attack from an unfinished railroad bed that drove Union men back to the Brock Road, but the momentum was lost when Confederate leader Longstreet was wounded by his own men.

An evening attack by Confederates against the Union right flank caused consternation at Union headquarters, but the lines stabilized and fighting ceased.

On May 7, Grant disengaged and moved to the southeast, intending to leave the Wilderness to interpose his army between Lee (Confederate leader) and Richmond, leading to the bloody Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

Other Battle of the Wilderness sections: