Sunday, June 1, 2014

Battle at Totopotomoy Creek

Wednesday, June 1, 1864

On Saturday, May 28 the Twentieth Massachusetts crossed the Pamunkey River and formed a four-mile line facing west toward Totopotomoy Creek. The Second Corps was ordered to an advanced position along the creek and discovered the Confederate line along the south bank of the creek between the Virginia Central Railroad and Pole Green Church. On Tuesday, May 31, the Twentieth Massachusetts, whose brigade was now under the command of Colonel Henry B. McKeen due to the wounding of General Alexander Webb at Spotsylvania, crossed the Totopotomoy. Confederate sharpshooters began to fire on McKeen's brigade but the brigade prevailed and overcame the sharpshooters. As McKeen's men took the position they came under enfilade fire from Confederate cannon on their left and right flanks. A continuing advance by the Second Corps revealed that the main Confederate position was one-half mile away, securely behind entrenchments and well-protected by infantry and artillery. Today General Winfield S. Hancock determined that the position could not be taken without heavy losses. At 9:00 P.M. this evening General George Meade ordered the Second Corps to rejoin the main body of Grant's army at Cold Harbor as soon as possible.1

1Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2005), 374-76.

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