Bloody Angle

Wright's Attack in Support of Hancock's II Corps, May 12, 1864, Spotsylvania

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Appomattox River
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Lincoln Assassination
Hollywood Cemetery
White House of the Confederacy
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Bloody Angle

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In this picture, you are standing right in front of the Confederate earthworks at the Bloody Angle.  The entrenchments behind you would have been shoulder height, rain would have been falling, and the mud here slick and slippery.  You can see from the terrain how a Union soldier, moving along the valley and trying to keep from exposing himself to fire from the Confederate line extending to your right would have been naturally funneled to this position.

The monument on the left of the picture marks a second ridge.  The other side of it was also shielded from Confederate view, but the moment they crossed the ridge they were exposed to fire.  The monument marks where many Union soldiers died, coming out of the low ravine and into the hail of Confederate fire.

At this position, Union soldiers would have huddled in the mud and rain, before climbing onto or over the wall, to shoot at or engage Confederate soldiers in vicious hand to hand combat on the other side.

Bloody Angle at the Mule Shoe

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This view is taken from the Confederate side of the entrenchments, marked here by natural grass and protected with a rope barrier.  This would have been lined with logs, shoulder height, with traverses every twenty feet so no one could fire down the line.

For a defending soldier, it would have been like being in a three sided, shoulder height roofless log cabin twenty feet wide, with Union soldiers vaulting over the top in the rain and mud and engaging you in hand to hand combat, or firing at point blank range.

As Confederate reinforcements moved up into this area, they were met by a steady stream of unseen Union soldiers moving up from the ravine beyond, and they would continually meet face to face behind this entrenchment for the next twenty hours.

Bodies and wounded stacked up layers deep, making it even harder to stand in the water and blood drenched mud.

The Bloody Angle was also more than just the scene of savage hand to hand fighting.  At this location, a twenty-two inch oak tree was eventually cut down by the number of Minie balls striking it.  You can see the actual stump at the Smithsonian Institute - click here.

A monument to the 6th Corps men who died while attacking the Bloody Angle.

Another monument to the Union soldiers who attacked this part of the line along the Bloody Angle.

Some Confederate soldiers reinforcing the Bloody angle would have moved along this area.  You can see the entrenchments on your left.  Up on top of the ridge to the right, you can see the 6th Corps monument, right at the Bloody Angle.

A view from the wooden bridge over the remaining earthworks.  Fighting was desperate here because the Confederates knew that if the Union army broke through, their army would be cut in half and severely defeated.  As they fought, other soldiers put up a new line in their rear.

Once it was completed, some 23 hours after the initial assault on the Mule Shoe by Hancock, the Confederates abandoned this portion of their line and fell back to the new positions.

Another view of the ravine leading up to the Bloody Angle.  Wright's men of the 6th Corps would have been attacking from the tree line in the distance along a considerable front, and moving down into the shelter of the swale, before coming up and into the Confederate line.

Bloody Angle Panorama

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This view, especially when enlarged, really shows you how the swale would have been a relatively safe place to move along, right up until the last push over to the Bloody Angle, marked by the two monuments.  You can also see how exposed to fire this location is.

A similar view, with a close up of the Ohio monument across the swale from the Bloody Angle.

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Back Hancock's Assault Part 2


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