Overland Campaign

Wednesday, May 4, 1864 to Friday, June 24, 1864

Photograph of Union Generals Winfield S. Hancock, Francis C. Barlow, David B. Birney, and John Gibbon, taken during the Overland Campaign. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

After being promoted to lieutenant general and overall command of all Union armies, Ulysses S. Grant directs the Army of the Potomac, under command of Major General George G. Meade, in a campaign against General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg, Grant grinds down the outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia, leading the Union into a strong strategic position against the Confederacy. The campaign initiates a period of attrition, during which both sides lose great numbers of soldiers, but only the North can continue to keep resupplying its armies. The extraordinarily high number of Union casualties in the campaign, estimated at more than 55,000, weaken Northern morale prior to the 1864 elections, and the public's confidence in Grant and Lincoln wanes. Lincoln becomes convinced he will lose the 1864 election. 


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