On this day in the Civil War, the Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee clashes with the Union Army of the Potomac under General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of the Wilderness. After several days of fighting, in which the Confederate army prevails, General Grant surprises his troops by continuing to press toward Richmond instead of retreating. A Union officer describes Grant’s tenacity by stating that he: “Habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall and was about to do it.” 

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