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Contributing Musicians

Joe Faber
Clark Hansbarger
Mike Jewell
Allen Kitselman
Gary McGraw

Cold Harbor / June 3, 1864

Lyrics and Story:

 

A month back at the Mule Shoe
We caught the hellfire storm.
Rain came down like brimstone,
The wolf broke through the door.

Thought I’d seen the worst of it,
but worse was yet to come.
A thousand more this morning
Caught the train to Kingdom come.

And God left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.
And God  left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.

They say this is God’s work
and God’s work must be done.
But I can’t even count the Yankees
lying down there now.

They dropped in lines like corn fall
In that awful hail.
I’ve never seen the likes it.
Half an hour of hell.

And God left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.
And God  left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.

Smarter men than you and I
Have brought the world to this.
Smarter men than you and I
Can sweep back greater sins.

But I was raised a Christian,
And I only hope it’s true,
That Jesus will forgive these deeds
When this day is through.

And God left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.
And God  left his mark
On Cold Harbor today.

 

Cold Harbor : Half an Hour of Hell

“I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. … No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”

—- Ulysses S. Grant

Cold Harbor - Civil War Songs - Cold Harbor by Clark HansbargerIn half an hour of hell on the morning of June 3, 1864,  three assaults on the Confederate breastworks at Cold Harbor, Virginia, resulted in nearly 7,000 Union casualties. For the next nine hours, thousands more were lost, until Grant finally ended the attacks. For four days afterward the wounded and dead lay on the open fields, while sharpshooters and artillery from both sides added to the carnage.

In the month since Ulysses S. Grant, now commander of all Union forces, began the Overland Campaign,  Meade’s  Army of the Potomac had driven Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to within ten miles of Richmond. Now, the Battle of Cold Harbor epitomized the dreadful calculations of this simple truth: the Cold Harbor - Civil War Songs - Cold Harbor by Clark HansbargerNorth could lose more men than the South and still win the war. Even still, the carnage to both armies during the past weeks– first at The Wilderness, then at Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania Courthouse, and now along the fortifications at Cold Harbor—seemed horrific and extreme.

The extent of Union casualties during this campaign — particularly at Cold Harbor –was downplayed by Grant and Secretary of War Stanton, most likely for political purposes. Lincoln’s nomination as the Republican party’s presidential candidate was imminent, and the terrible costs of the war were Cold Harbor - Civil War Songs - Cold Harbor by Clark Hansbargerexhausting popular support in the North.

The common soldier who narrates this song seeks to understand the horror of what he has seen and done: Great powers must be at work, for only God and men wiser than he could do such things.

Links

The Battle

Grant, The Press and the Carnage of Cold Harbor

Overview of Battle with articles

Map of Battle of Cold Harbor

The Campaign

Discussion of Grant’s Overland Campaign

Grant’s Overland Campaign of 1864

The Muleshoe (Battle of Spotsylvania)

The Union’s Bloody Miscue at Spotsylvania’s Muleshoe

 

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