"It was the work of almost a single minute. The air was filled with sulphurous smoke, and the shrieks and howls of more than two hundred and fifty mangled men rose above the yells of triumphant rebels and the roar of their musketry."
Theodore F. Vaill Adjutant, 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
The first heavy fighting at Cold Harbor erupted here, on the afternoon of June 1, 1864, when Grant determined to test the strength of the newly-built Confederate line. The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery led the way across this ground, hoping to break through Lee's defenses.
Nearly 1,500 men, fresh from service in the defenses of Washington, and now fighting as infantry, marched with great precision into their first battle. The Confederate line, held by General Thomas Clingman's North Carolina brigade and located just 150 yards to your front, delivered a devastating fire on the inexperienced unit. Other Federal units broke through the line, but the timely arrival of Confederate reserves and the approach of darkness ended the action. This temporary success encouraged Grant and contributed to his decision to launch an even larger assault on June 3.