MAY 8: MEADE AGAIN ATTACKS LAUREL HILL
During the afternoon, Sedgwick's Sixth Corps tramped past Alsop's and
extended Warren's line eastward. It was unseasonably hot and dusty and
nothing seemed to be going right. One of Sedgwick's aides later
explained that his "dim impression of that afternoon is of things going
wrong, of much bloodshed and futility." Meade's staffer Theodore Lyman
thought that "never were officers and men more jaded and
By seven o'clock in the evening, Meade had managed to coordinate
Sedgwick and Warren. Several New Jersey regiments punched forward near
Brock Road only to be shredded by Anderson's firepower. Survivors sought
refuge in dips and swales. Many waited until darkness before attempting
to crawl to safety. East of the roadway, Crawford's Pennsylvanians and
several Sixth Corps units charged ahead in hopes of slipping past
Anderson's right flank. They received a nasty surprise. Ewell's
Confederate Second Corps had left the Wilderness early that morning and
arrived in time to shift next to Anderson. The Federals were repulsed
and pursued to their works by Battle's Alabamians. Musketry sparked
through the night as snipers fought nasty little battles in the no-man's
land between the armies. Disappointment in the Union ranks was palpable.
"The thing was so poorly executed that it does not amount to much" a
Northerner wrote home.
RICHARD EWELL COMMANDED LEE'S SECOND CORPS. (NA)|
THE CONFEDERATE DEFENSES CONSISTED OF LOGS AND DIRT PILED HEAD HIGH. AS
THE WAR WENT ON, LEE CAME TO RELY MORE AND MORE ON SUCH DEFENSIVE WORKS
TO OFFSET GRANT'S SUPERIORITY IN NUMBERS. (LC)|
Meade complained to his aide Lyman as they sat around the evening
campfire. Sedgwick, he grumbled, was "constitutionally slow," but his
real anger was directed at Warren. "I told Warren today that he lost his
nerve," Meade explained, "at which he professed to be very indignant."
Following a rancorous meeting with his corps commanders, Meade ordered
them to rectify their lines and rest their men. Grant's offensive was
assuming a decidedly defensive cast.