LESS WELL known than the fighting at the Bloody Angle but no less costly, the combat at Laurel Hill produced upwards of 5,000 casualties. On three different days - May 8, 10, and 12 - Union troops charged across the fields surrounding Sarah Spindle's farmhouse in an effort to break Lee's entrenched lines. Each time they suffered defeat. "It was charge and fall back 6 to 8 times. We could get our men only so far," complained one Union officer.
"One good rush and their bayonets would have silenced our guns. But they could not face that hail of death any longer."
Private William M. Dame, 1st Company, Richmond Howitzers
The problem was terrain. In order to reach the Confederates, Union soldiers had to cross several hundred yards of open ground, all the while exposed to the bursting shells and whizzing bullets of the enemy. "The moment we rose from the ground a perfect hailstorm of ball from three sides were poured into us," wrote one Union soldier, "men fell by the dozens." Unable to crack the Confederate line at Laurel Hill, Grant cast his gaze farther to the left -- to the Muleshoe.
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