During the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House on 12-13 May 1864, a legendary struggle occurred between North and South at the Bloody Angle — the tip of the Muleshoe salient.
The 4 May 2014 reenactment of this confrontation was powerful. Union soldiers charged uphill into the angle, were repulsed, and then ran up again in the face of Confederate rifle fire. Casualties fell on both sides. Artillery boomed, a steady reminder of my ancestor — Union artillerist Arthur Bull.
The day was sunny, though — not like in 1864 when pouring rain turned the fields to mud, and the waves of attacks gave way to intense hand-to-hand combat lasting nearly 24 hours.
“You know, that’s the actual battleground across the street behind those trees,” said a guy sitting next to me. “I found it even more impressive than the Wilderness.”
So after the gun smoke cleared, taps was played and the soldiers marched off the field — I drove with my friend Jane down the Brock Road to the Spotsylvania Battlefield.
Researching my great, great grandfather’s unit, I spent hours studying descriptions and maps of the battlefield, yet I was totally unprepared for its enormity.
“Where is the Muleshoe?” I asked a park ranger, expecting to see an obvious horseshoe shape somewhere.
Sweeping his arm in a wide arc he replied, “You have to understand, it’s about two miles long.” Two miles long? I was stunned.
Amid gently rustling treetops, faint bird song, sunshine and shadow, I stood at the Bloody Angle and absorbed the sheer immensity of the battleground’s hallowed landscape and the lingering spirit of thousands of soldiers like my ancestor who stepped up that day to change the course of history.
© 2014 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.