Could it have been the Confederates that built the Line to the Landram House and beyond?

First who could or perhaps would have done it? The only one of Johnson’s brigades which was not to the left of the apex of the salient, also called the east angle, was Steuart’s. The remaining brigades, Stonewall, combined Louisiana, and Witcher’s, held a stretch of the line which ran for roughly 667 yards. This was the distance from the approximate point where the Stonewall Brigade joined with Rodes right to the apex or east angle. The distance to the northernmost point of the remaining line is approximately 1136 yards.That would be far more than would be held by one brigade.

You may ask about the various regiments from the different brigades which manned the picket line. Certainly each brigade had skirmishers, or pickets, out in front. Generally these units, each brigade typically rotating the  regiments on a daily basis, were out in front of their own brigade. But according to Captain McHenry Howard, of Brig. Gen. Steuarts staff, “the picket line off the angle was divided of course, between us and Jones (I keep the designation of the brigade although Jones had been killed on the 5th) Recollection of a Confederate Soldier page 286. On the evening of the 11th Jones’s brigade had two small regiments on the picket line, to be relieved in the morning by the largest regiment in the brigade. This picket line was supposedly about 800 yards in front of the main works which would put it about the point where the line beyond the Landram House makes a slight bend. But accounts tell of the Colonel of the 2nd Delaware, who were skirmishers in the lead of  Hancock’s May 12 assault,  being killed in the Landrum House yard. This was supposedly during fighting between the Confederate pickets and his command. The implication being that the line was at roughly that distance from the main line. In short it is difficult to believe that at any point there were enough Confederates to main the entirety of the line running beyond the Landram House. In addition Maj. Jed Hotchkiss, cartographer and topographical engineer for the 2nd Corps said that there were no Confederate works outside the Salient.

If the Confederate line didn’t run as far as the Landram House how far did it extend? There is no definitive account as to how far it went. The best accounts we have to go by are by Capt. W.W. Old of Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson’s staff and Capt. McHenry Howard of Brig. Gen. George Steuart’s staff.

Capt. Old wrote of how the line was formed on Rodes right when arriving on May 8th: ” I remember well that I kept my hands before my eyes, which were really of no use to me at the time, to protect them, and that more than once I was nearly dragged of my horse by the trees with which I came in contact. Our progress, under such circumstances, was necessarily very slow. We knew nothing of the topography of the country, but soon came to the end of the thicket through which we had been passing for formation, and saw camp fires before us, almost directly in the line of our march.

This was the first light which we had seen. The ground was examined and General Johnson found we were on the brow of a ridge, which turned somewhat shortly to the right. The camp fires in our front seemed to us to be considerably below the plane of our position, as they were in fact. It was now quite late in the night and General Johnson deflected his line and followed the ridge, so far as could be distinguished in the darkness. Up to the point of deflection there was room for Walker’s brigade, our left, the Louisiana brigade, and the greater part of Jones’ brigade, so that Steuart’s brigade, which occupied our right, extended to the right of this turning point.If it had been extended in a straight line, Steuart’s right would have been very close to, and rather in front of those camp fires which we had seen. Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol 33, pages 20-21.


This photograph taken from the foot bridge at the point where the two existing lines of parapets separate. To the right you can see how the original line “deflects” as Capt. Old describes to follow the ridge on the night of the 8th. On the left you can see the later line which was pushed out to both reduce the amount of “dead ground”, and fully take in the highest point for the artillery to take position.

To the Capt. McHenry Howard wrote a pretty detailed account of the realignment of Steuart’s brigade. This realignment of the lines occurred sometimes late on the 9th.


About Russ

Avid student of military history as well as amateur historian. Has a keen interest in archaeology. Founded his company in 2004.
This entry was posted in 1864, American Civil War, artillery in the Overland Campaign, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Battle of the Muleshoe, Bloody Angle, Earthworks and trenchs, field fortifications, Hancock's assault on the Muleshoe, Johnson's Division, May 12, McHenry Howard, Mule Shoe, Overland Campaign 1864, Steuart's Brigade and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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