ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY
May 5, 1864
The Battle of the Wilderness Begins
in the American Civil War
On this day in 1864, the Battle of the Wilderness began. The Battle of the Wilderness was the first battle of Grant's Overland Campaign and was fought in central Virginia, very near the spot that the Battle of Chancellorsville was fought in May of the previous year.
Although the battle did not produce a clear cut victory, it resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The North sustained more casualties than the South but they started with a superior numerical advantage and were in a better position to replenish their losses. This was the beginning of Grants war of attrition.
In one of the more horrendous incidents of the entire war, one night after the fighting a fire broke out and hundreds of wounded soldiers left on the field died screaming as they were burned to death within earshot of their fellow soldiers.