On May 12, two significant, yet sad events took place during the War Between the States. Both happened within miles of each other. In 1864, during the Overland Campaign, one of the most horrific battles of the Civil War occurred following the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. That battle, which took place from May 5-7, paved the way for the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant ordered 15,000 of Major General Winfield S. Hancock’s men into a land formation known as the Mule Shoe. At the western edge, which became known as the Bloody Angle, men fought savagely in hand-to-hand combat for 24 hours. The battle ranks fifth in the total number of casualties it produced.
On the same day, Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart,General Robert E. Lee’s cavalry commander, lost his life following the Battle of Yellow Tavern. On May 11, Union Major General Philip Sheridan’s 10,000+ troopers confronted Stuart’s 4,500 men at the abandoned inn. Fighting for over three hours, the Confederates managed to force the Yankees into retreat. Stuart yelled encouragements to his soldiers as he sat on his horse. Suddenly, a dismounted Union private, 48-year-old John A. Huff, who was a former sharpshooter, shot Stuart from a distance of 10-30 yards. The general was taken to nearby Richmond, where he died the next day.