The Bloody Angle as it looks today.

The Bloody Angle as it looks today. The Confederate earthworks in the shadows in the foreground have heavily eroded in the 150 years since the battle.

Around 4:30 a.m. on a still dark May 12, 1864, 20,000 federal infantrymen under U.S. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock surged across this rolling ground toward the location of the camera. This is the Mule Shoe or Bloody Angle. Another 40,000 bluecoats attacked on two sides of the Angle.

For about 20 hours, William B. Poore and his fellow Confederates fought ankle deep in blood and human gore. William and his fellow rebels often had to step on the dead and wounded during the hours of desperate fighting. One soldier called it “a scene indescribable in its terrible horror.”

By the early morning hours of May 13, William and his comrades had bought the time C.S. General Robert E. Lee needed to build a new defense line. The Bloody Angle’s defenders peeled off one unit at a time taking care not to make any noise that would alert their enemy that they were leaving.

The Bloody Angle in May 1864.

The Bloody Angle in May 1864.