On the morning of June 1, 1864, Confederate soldiers of Thomas Clingman's North Carolina brigade frantically dug this trench. They anticipated a Union assault later in the day. Around 6:00 p.m. Federal troops of the VI Corps moved into position near Old Cold Harbor, a half-mile to the east, and with two hours of daylight remaining, received orders to attack. This would be part of the first Union assault at Cold Harbor.
Emory Upton's brigade of 2600 Union infantry attacked here. An intense, bloody battle ensued. Eventually Upton's men reached this earthwork and clung to it, despite repeated attempts that evening to retake it.
"At the first ray of dawn it [the work] was strengthened and occupied by skirmishers; and during our stay at Cold Harbor, which lasted until midnight of June 12th, it remained our front line?."
Theodore Vaill, Upton's Brigade
This is a rare surviving example of a "turned" entrenchment, used by each army and consequently facing in two different directions.