Cold Harbor. The very name conjures up feelings of foreboding and dread.

More than a century and a half has elapsed since the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and Baldy Smith’s 18th Corps pressed toward Petersburg aiming to sever the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line.

The six weeks of combat preceding the movement on Petersburg represents the most intense continuous bout of warfare the continent has ever witnessed.

Each side’s premier general – Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – matched wits and endurance in a campaign of combat and maneuver from the Rapidan River to the James. Packed into those six horrific weeks were the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River, and Cold Harbor.

Come join us as historian and author Gordon Rhea presents an appraisal of Grant’s and Lee’s generalship during the Overland Campaign.

The focus will be on the campaign’s final days at Cold Harbor and Grant’s decision to pry Lee from his formidable earthworks by slicing the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line at Petersburg. The story is one of the most exciting in the annals of American military history, and who better to tell it than Gordon Rhea who has written the definitive history on the subject.


Gordon Rhea

Gordon Rhea

Gordon C. Rhea received his B.A. in history from Indiana University, his M.A. in history from Harvard University, and his law degree from Stanford University Law School. He served as Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities for two years and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington D.C. and the United States Virgin Islands for some seven years. He has been in the private practice of law since 1983.

Mr. Rhea has written seven award-winning books about the American Civil War, including The Battle of the Wilderness, The Battles at Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, To the North Anna River, Cold Harbor, On To Petersburg, Carrying the Flag, and In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee.

He has lectured across the country at the invitation of numerous historical societies, universities, and historic preservation organizations on topics of military history and the Civil War era and has served on the boards of historical societies, history magazines, and historical preservation organizations, including the Civil War Library and Museum, Philadelphia, the North and South magazine, and the Charleston South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. Mr. Rhea conducts fundraising tours for organizations that raise funds to purchase and preserve historical sites related to the Civil War era, including the Civil War Trust, the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, the Blue and Gray Education Society, and the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield. He has also appeared multiple times as a historian and presenter on nationwide television programs, including productions by The History Channel, A&E Channel, Discovery Channel, and C-Span.