On May 4, 1863, Colonel Lewis A. Grant's brigade of Vermont regiments held the ridge to your right front. Late i the day, Brigadier Generals Harry T. Hays and Robert Hoke launched their Louisiana and North Carolina brigades against a Union line at what is new Hugh Mercer School, Colonel Isaac E.Avery stepping in to command the North Carolinians after Hoke fell wounded. When the first Federal line collapsed, the Confederates hastened forward, across this terrain.
The awaiting Federals in a second line lay prone. As their adversaries closed in, the Vermont men rose up and delivered several volleys of musketry. The Confederates fell back and the Federals surged forward in a counterattack that captured hundreds of prisoners. The local success proved short-lived, though, because another Confederate attack gained critical ground near Fall Hill (behind you) and the Federals in this area had to pull back or be captured.
"We waited until the enemy were within twenty feet of our guns, then rose, fired and charged at one with level bayonets."
"the ground was covered with one commingled mass of rebel knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, muskets and equipment, besides the dead and dying...."
(left map) On the morning of May 4, 1863, a Confederate advance severed the Union Sixth Corps' link with Fredericksburg (1). In the late afternoon, the Confederates launched an attack (2), but a substantial part of the Confederate force did not advance (3). The Southern assaults pressed into this area (4), but the Federals had a strong line and held until another Confederate column moved in behind them (5). During the night, the Union force collapsed its lines and retreated across bridges downstream from Banks Ford (6). These maps are oriented to the direction you are facing, and also show the modern road network to help relate the action to the ground.
(center photo) Colonel Lewis A. Grant had been a teacher and a lawyer before the war, but readily adapted to the profession of arms. On May 4, 1863, he skillfully defended the Federal line in this area, for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
(right map) Colonel Lewis A. Grant's brigade of Vermont and New Jersey troops held the Federal line in this sector. Some of these regiments had already been engaged, but had fallen back and redeployed as shown here. Advancing into the sun, units from North Carolina and Louisiana were surprised by a severe fire from this new line and fell back in disorder. Not until John B. Gordon's Georgia brigade moved up a ravine and flanked the Federal position was the Vermont brigade forced to pull back.
Spotsylvania Stafford Federicksburg
Panel design by Jackson Foster, The I.D. Entity