On this date in 1864, General U.S. Grant again tried to turn Lee's flank on the northern approaches to Richmond. It was the fourth day of fighting around Cold Harbor and Grant attempted to fix Lee's left with probing attacks while making a major thrust against his right with three corps of infantry.
The attacks were poorly coordinated and little had been done to scout the Confederate positions; if they had scouted, they would have discovered that Lee's troops were well dug-in and waiting. In the early morning of June 3rd, men who had already survived the bloodbaths at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania marched into the teeth of withering musketry and point-blank canister shot from emplaced cannon. Some Union troops expressed their view of the likelihood of success by writing their names on pieces of paper pinned to their uniforms, in order to assist with the recognition of their remains in those pre-dog-tag days.
The Union army took as many as 6,000 casualties (perhaps as many as 2,000 KIA) on that day. General Grant later wrote that he had "...always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. ... At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained."