Tag Archives: The Wilderness

Lack of combat skills costs 1st Maine Heavies dearly at Harris Farm

  A few hours spent learning rudimentary combat skills could have saved many Maine lives near Spotsylvania Court House, Va. on Thursday, May 19, 1864. The modern Army’s concept of “Advanced Infantry Training” did not exist during the Civil War. The small pre-war Army primarily fought Indians in the far West, where parade-ground maneuvers drawn […]

The Wilderness, Part IV — Trapped

After capturing Confederate-held trenches at the western edge of Saunders Field in The Wilderness on May 5, 1864, 20th Maine Infantry soldiers kept pushing their enemies through the tangled undergrowth beyond those trenches. The Maine soldiers advanced across this particular terrain just west of the trenches still found at Saunders Field. Anchoring his regiment’s left […]

The Wilderness, Part III — Slaughter at Saunders Field

  For the 20th Maine boys hurrying west from their recently constructed breastworks near the Old Wilderness Tavern in central Virginia, the slaughter began sometime after 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 1864. At noon Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin had received an order to probe westward along the Orange Turnpike with his 1st Division of […]

The Wilderness, Part II — “The air was filled with lead”

  Theodore Gerrish and his 20th Maine Infantry comrades knew little about strategy — — but they certainly knew how to fight when the generals got their strategy all wrong. Ulysses Simpson Grant intended to hustle the well-rested and -equipped Army of the Potomac through The Wilderness on Wednesday, May 4, 1864. By emerging into […]

The Wilderness, Part 1 — One last fine spring day dawned on the 20th Maine

  When Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of the 20th Maine Infantry awoke to a perfect morning on Sunday, May 1, 1864, he never imagined that he and his friends would not see such a day again. Ulysses Simpson Grant believed that shoving the Army of the Potomac through a godless central Virginia forest that spring would […]