On June 2, 1864, the night before the grand assault at Cold Harbor, Union staff officers passed among the battle lines issuing orders. One officer, Major Horace Porter, was in this vicinity when he witnessed a scene of foreboding. Porter recalled:
As I came near one of the regiments which was making preparations for the next morning's assault, I noticed that many of the soldiers had taken off their coats, and seemed to be engaged in sewing up rents in them. This exhibition of tailoring seemed rather peculiar at such a moment, but upon closer examination it was found that the men were calmly writing their names and addresses on slips of paper, and pinning them on the backs of their coats, so that their dead bodies might be recognized upon the field, and their fate made known to their families at home?Such courage is more than heroic - it is sublime.