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Chapter 43 - Cold Harbor & Gaines's Mill

Scruffy in appearance, the intersection was the strategic junction of Cold Harbor.

 

They puttered on down the road in the Harvester, past the Garthright house. In this house, Union surgeons had worked for ten days straight in 1864.

 

Across the road was the Cold Harbor National Cemetery, holding Union soldiers who had written their names and addresses on pieces of paper and pinned them inside their coats, so their bodies could be identified.

 

A half-mile farther, Gordon turned into the Cold Harbor portion of the Richmond National Battlefield.

 

At the edge of the lot was a meadow, part of a three-mile front where, with the first light of June 3, 1864, at four thirty in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, Federal troops surged through a thick ground fog toward almost impenetrable Confederate earthworks. The Confederate response was a volcanic eruption of firepower, resulting in thousands of Federal casualties. The failed attack turned into Grant’s biggest blunder of the war.

 

This evening, there was a party in the killing field.

 

"We’ll move this social down the road to Beaver Dam Creek."

 

The parking lot emptied.

 

They followed the curvy road down to Boatswain Creek and back up the hill to the National Park’s portion of the Gaines’s Mill battlefield.

 

They ran a one-hundred-yard dash from the parking area to the woods.

 

Jimmy instinctively stood on the edge of the forest as a picket, while the others bolted down the dark trail, slipping on pea pebbles and tripping on exposed tree roots.

 

At the bottom of the trail, they reached Boatswain Creek, a trickle in a shallow sandy ditch.

 

The reenactors crossed the water where there was no trail and waded through the ferns on the other side.

 

The Gabrielites walked around the woods by passing the restored 1835 Watt house,

 

taking a farm road enclosed by high split-rail fencing.

 

At the first break in the fence, they cut across a field to pick up the other end of the loop trail through the forest. Another "Freeman Marker" guarded the trail entrance.

Cold Harbor National Cemetary

Touring Cold Harbor Battlefield

The Battle of Cold Harbor

The Battle of Beaver Dam Creek

The Battle of Gaines's Mill