Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

1864 battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was part of the Overland Campaign of the American Civil War.[1] It was fought from May 8 to May 21, 1864. After the Battle of the Wilderness, Union commander Ulysses S. Grant decided to march south to get between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. As part of the Union plans, they had to capture the important crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House. But Confederate cavalry arrived there first, followed by Confederate infantry.

Part of the Confederate line bulged outward; this part was soon called the "Mule Shoe". On May 12, Grant attacked the Mule Shoe with several thousand men. The Union attack captured part of the Confederate line but Confederate commander Robert E. Lee sent reinforcements to counterattack. The fighting lasted all day at the Mule Shoe. By the end of the day, an oak tree almost two feet wide was completely severed by all the rifle fire.

The battle continued until May 21st. Grant then decided that he could not defeat Lee at Spotsylvania, so he ordered the Union army to move southward.


  1. "Spotsylvania Court House". Civil War Trust. Retrieved 22 February 2016.