Union Forces Commanded by: Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade
Confederate Forces Commanded by: Gen. Robert E. Lee
**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Inconclusive Victory
After the fighting at Spotsylvania Court House, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant continued his Overland Offensive against Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He was brought up short on the North Anna River by Lee's widely studied "hog snout line," which forced Grant to divide his army into three parts in order to attack.
On May 23, one of Gen. A.P. Hill's divisions assaulted the V Corps which had crossed the river at Jericho Mill, resulting in bloody see-saw fighting. That night, Grant directed Meade to move his army south from Mount Carmel Church at 5:00 A.M. the next morning, and to follow across the North Anna river should it be found that the Confederates had crossed. The II corps was to move on the Telegraph road to the Chesterfield ford, near where the Fredericksburg & Richmond railroad crossed the river; the IX corps to Jericho bridge, or mills, and the V corps, with the VI in reserve to a point west of Jericho mills. The distance between Jericho mills and the Chesterfield ford is about 4 miles. Before the orders were executed they were changed, making the destination of the IX corps the Ox ford, about a mile above the Telegraph road bridge at Chesterfield ford, while the V and VI corps, the former in advance, moved toward Jericho mills.
At 1:00 P.M., Warren had reached the mills. No Confederate was to be seen on the opposite bank and Bartlett's brigade of Griffin's division was pushed over to secure the crossing. By the time the entire division had waded across at the ford the bridge train came up and the remainder of the corps crossed on the pontoon bridge. Line of battle was formed 1/2 mile beyond the river in a strip of timber. At 6:00 P.M., the Confederates assaulted Cutler, who had succeeded to the command of Wadsworth's division after the latter's death in the Wilderness. He was the last of the division commanders to cross the river and had not wholly formed his line when the Confederates attacked. The division fell back in some confusion, the Confederates following until they were checked by Griffin's artillery and compelled to withdraw to the Virginia Central railroad, about a 1 1/2 miles south, when Warren intrenched his position. The VI corps was hastened from. Mount Carmel church at the beginning of the action, but the fighting had about ended when it arrived on the north bank of the river at Jericho mills and it was not crossed until the next morning. In the meantime Hancock formed his corps along the heights a mile north of the river, his left flank on the Fredericksburg & Richmond railroad and his right flank on the Telegraph road, Barlow occupying the center. The Confederates were intrenched on a hill on the north bank of the river to guard the approach to the Telegraph road bridge. Birney was of the opinion that he could capture the position and was ordered to attempt it. Egan's and Pierce's brigades, in a brilliant charge up the slope under cover of the II corps artillery fire, successfully accomplished the movement, driving the enemy across the river, though the two brigades lost some 150 men. The Confederates still held the south end of the bridge and during the night made several attempts to burn it, but each time were driven back. Burnside proceeded to Ox ford, but found the enemy so strongly intrenched on the south bank he deemed it unwise to attempt a crossing.
On the 24th, Union infantry was repulsed at Ox Ford (the snout) but advanced to near the Doswell House on the Confederate right. Lee hoped to strike an offensive blow, but he was ill, and the opportunity for defeating an isolated part of the Federal army passed. That morning, it was found that the Confederates in Hancock's front had abandoned his advanced works on the south side of the river, when the II corps was at once crossed and took possession of them. Some reconnoitering was done during the day and it was discovered that the Confederate position was strongly intrenched in the shape of a V, the vertex resting on the river near Ox ford one side opposite Hancock's corps, while the other faced the V and VI corps to the west.
About 6:00 P.M., Gibbon's division, occupying Hancock's extreme left, became briskly engaged and though its outposts were hard pressed no material advantage was gained by the Confederates. The same day Burnside was ordered to seize Ox ford, but finding that it was impossible to make a direct attack as the salient of the V was directly opposite, he sent Crittenden's division a mile and a half up the river, where it crossed at Quarles' mill. On the south side of the stream Crittenden formed a junction with Crawford's division of Warren's corps and advanced toward the Confederate position at Ox ford with a view of driving the enemy out so that Willcox's division could cross, but the enemy was too strongly intrenched.
On the 25th, the V and VI corps with Crittenden's division of the 9th were thrown forward to within 600 or 800 yards of the Confederate line which was found to be well intrenched and traversed to protect it from the enfilading fire of the IX corps artillery on the north bank of the river. The line extended from Ox ford on the North Anna to Anderson's mill on the Little river, a distance of a mile and a half. The rest of the 25th and 26th were spent by the Federals in tearing up portions of the Fredericksburg & Richmond and Virginia Central railroads. On the 26th Wilson's cavalry division was sent from the Federal right to demonstrate on the enemy's position. This led Lee to think that the Army of the Potomac was to be moved by the right flank.
Once the threat of Lee's position was revealed, Grant withdrew both wings of the army back across the North Anna River. Grant outflanked the position by moving downstream and continued his advance on Richmond.