From Ohio History Central
The Wilderness Campaign of 1864 was one of the most violent and deadly of the American Civil War.
In March 1864, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Ulysses Simpson Grant to lieutenant general and named him supreme commander of all Union forces for the remainder of the American Civil War. In this new position, Grant took the offensive and focused his attention on General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. During the war's first several years, other Union commanders had tried to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Often defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia, the Union soldiers had retreated to the relative safety of Washington, DC. Grant refused to retreat. He realized that the North had a much larger number of men available for duty. He believed that the most effective way to defeat the South was to attack repeatedly. The South did not have the men and supplies to reinforce the soldiers already in the field.