Meade: “You will immediately withdraw your corps from its present position and move to Cold Harbor”

We are receiving reports that Lee is moving on Cold Harbor in force.

Cold Harbor, Va., May 31, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,

Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: All the indications to-day lead to the brief that the enemy meditated an attack on the First Division of cavalry posted 1 1\2 miles from Cold Harbor, so I gave permission to General Torbert to attack them. He did so, encountering Fitz. Lee’s division of cavalry and one brigade of Hoke’s division of infantry (Clingman’s), driving them from their barricades in Cold Harbor, and capturing about half a regiment and 15 of Clingman’s infantry. Since then the second brigade, of Hoke’s division, has arrived. I do not feel able to hold this place, and have directed General Torbert to resume his position of this morning. Lee’s line of battle is in front of Mechanicsville, and, with the heavy odds against me here, I do not think it prudent to hold on. The enemy is now extending toward Gaines’ Hill, to cover the bridges across the Chickahominy.

The First Division behaved very gallantly. The wounded are all being sent to the rear. We will have 70 or 80.

Very respectfully,


Major-General, Commanding.


We must immediately move to check him.  Gen. Meade wrote to Gen. Wright commanding the 6th Corps,

MAY 31, 1864-9.45 p. m.

Major-General WRIGHT:

You will immediately withdraw your corps from its present position and move to Cold Harbor, about 2 1\2 miles east of Bethesda Church. Our cavalry now have possession of Cold Harbor, having this afternoon driven from it the enemy’s cavalry and infantry. The cavalry are directed to hold on until your arrival, and it is of the utmost importance you should reach the point as soon after daylight as possible. Your route will be by Haw’s Shop and Old Church. You will endeavor, if possible, to notify the cavalry on your right of your withdrawal. Possibly a road from Gilmans’ may be found cutting off Old Church. You will notify General Hancock when the last of your troops are moving.




Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, Gordon Rhea, Chpt 6

O.R., I, xxxvi, part 3, p 404, 411

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