Thursday, May 26, 1864
The Twentieth Massachusetts departed from Spotsylvania, passing through Bowling Green and Milford, toward the North Anna River on Monday, May 23, making a forced march in the searing heat. Once again Confederate General Robert E. Lee, reading Union General Ulysses S. Grant's intentions, arrived at the North Anna River first, forming entrenchments along the river's south bank. On Tuesday, May 24 General Winfield S. Hancock led his Second Corps, including the Twentieth Massachusetts, across the North Anna River toward the Confederate entrenchments. As the Twentieth came under rifle fire an intense thunderstorm erupted, drenching both armies with heavy rain and exploding trees with bolts of lightning. The heavy rain continued through Wednesday. This morning General Grant, realizing that the Confederate entrenchments divided his army, recrossed the North Anna River. Grant planned to march southward at night around the Confederate flank toward Richmond by way of the Pamunkey River.
1Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2005), 372-74.