Thursday, May 29, 2014

150 Years Ago Today - Bad is about to get Worse in Virginia

After the severe fighting at Spotsylvania and more at North Anna, things were only about to get worse for the men that followed Grant and Lee. The Battle of Cold Harbor was only days away.

One of those men was Capt. Andrew J. McBride of the 10th Georgia Infantry. McBride's regiment was part of Gen. Goode Bryan's Brigade in Gen. Joseph Kershaw's Division (pictured) of Longstreet's Corps.

At the time of his writing McBride was about 28 years old and before the war had been an attorney. He had received a minor wound during the fighting in the Wilderness and would be injured severely enough at Cold Harbor to sit out the rest of the war.

150 years ago today, McBride wrote:
"Battle Field
May 29th 1864
The great battle is not yet over, there is only a lull - the first for twenty five days, the sullen roar of artillery even now reminds us that the last act of the bloody tragedy is yet to be enacted. - we all feel that Palida Moss is only temporarily satiated and even now hovers over the fair fields and blooming vales of Virginia ready to begin a carnival more cruel and more horrible than any he has yet held on the "dark and bloody ground" of the Old Dominion. - Aye we all feel, that yet another hecatomb of human bodies, slaughtered at the bidding of Abraham Lincoln, must rise to satiate the bloody Molock of the North. Alas! yes almost before the shriek of his wounded who perished in the flames of the burning wood in the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania have died upon our ears, almost before their blood dried upon the earth, the is ready with an unparalleled cruelty to offer new victims - Oh what strange dreams must fill his brain in the deep "silent watches of the night?" or if perchance in the "visions of the night" the Ghosts of his murdered victims (whose charred and blackened bodies now lie scattered by the thousands through the Wilderness and upon the heights of Spotsylvania) should pass in review his dream would indeed be more terrible than the reality witnessed by Richard the third - There are may incidents of a thrilling interest which I would like to relate, but cannot now. Grant after three desperate efforts, on as many different roads had been forced to his Gunboats on the Pamunky and York rivers, he is not at a position which he could have reached without the loss of a single man, but what a fearful price he has paid for it? his loss cannot have been less than fifty thousand while ours will not greatly exceed fifteen thousand - the great difference can be quickly and satisfactorily accounted for when it is remembered that we have fought most of the time, behind breastworks - but enough of these battles you will see better accounts of them in the papers. . . . I have been in command of the regt since the first day of the fight and have but little time to write if I can I will write to you before going into battle but I can hardly tell when that will be though it may be in a few hours."

If McBride thought Grant's previous attacks were "desperate," one can only image what he thought about the Union charges at Cold Harbor on June 1 and 3.

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