Lincoln’s Reelection Threatened. Grant’s Costliest Mistake.

May 30, 1864/2014
Volume 5, Issue 22 (190 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

Third Party Abolitionist Presidential Candidate Threatens Lincoln’s Reelection Chances

Major General John C. Frémont, Library of Congress

Major General John C. Frémont, Library of Congress

On May 31, 1864, feeling that President Lincoln had been too cautious with regard to abolishing slavery and too lenient with regard to bringing Southern states back into the Union, a group of white radical abolitionists who had formed the Radical Democracy Party met in Cleveland, Ohio and nominated former Union general and famous explorer John Charles Frémont as the party’s candidate for president.

Republicans were concerned that Frémont’s candidacy would siphon off support for President Lincoln and result in the election of the Democratic Party’s candidate, George B. McClellan.

Grant’s Costliest Mistake: 12,000 Casualties in Eight Minutes

June 3, 1864. Grant continued to pursue Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army without letting up. Lee held a good defensive position along the Chickahominy River at a town called Cold Harbor, Virginia. The battle there lasted three days. On the third day, June 3, Grant, frustrated with the lack of clear success in the previous month, mounted an all-out assault on Lee’s entrenchments. In one intense effort that lasted only eight minutes 12,000 men were killed or wounded. The assault failed. It was Grant’s most costly mistake of the war. Critics in the North, particularly Peace Democrats (whose leader was one of Grant’s predecessors, George McClellan) criticized him for waging a bloody war of attrition and called him a butcher. Grant later wrote in his memoirs, “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made.”

7th New York Heavy Artillery's breakthrough at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. Drawing by Alfred Waud, courtesy Library of Congress.

7th New York Heavy Artillery’s breakthrough at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. Drawing by Alfred Waud, courtesy Library of Congress.


Cold Harbor, Civil War Trust

Battle of Cold Harbor, Wikipedia

– Submitted by Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director Peter A. Gilbert

1 Comment

Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1864

One response to “Lincoln’s Reelection Threatened. Grant’s Costliest Mistake.

  1. Pingback: Lincoln’s Reelection Threatened. Grant’s Costliest Mistake. | Civil War Book of Days

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