Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of , a long, indecisive battle of the American Civil War. It took place from May 8 to May 19, 1864, near Spotsylvania Court House, a small village north of Richmond, Virginia. The Union forces, totaling about 112,000, were under command of General George G. Meade but actually were led by his superior, General U. S. Grant. The Confederate army, which numbered some 61,000 men, was commanded by General Robert E. Lee. The battle was one of a series of engagements carrying out Grant's strategy to end the war by encirclement and destruction of Lee's smaller army.
The Battle of the Wilderness had just been fought nearby without giving either army an advantage. Grant ordered a march south to get around Lee's flank. Lee, however, had anticipated this and was waiting for the Union army at Spotsylvania when Grant arrived. On May 8 the Union forces began the attack on the entrenched Confederate line, which at the center projected outward in a V-shape.
On May 12, Grant launched a massive assault on the “Bloody Angle,” as the projection came to be known. Twice his troops penetrated the Confederate trenches, splitting Lee's army, but each time ferocious counterattacks drove the Union troops back. For the next six days Grant vainly assaulted the Confederate line. On May 19 he broke off action and moved south again to attempt another flanking movement. Union losses were about 17,000 killed and wounded; Confederate losses were more than 8,000.