On this day in the Civil War, Federal troops under General U.S. Grant prepare for an attack on the Confederate line at Cold Harbor, Virginia.

A Union officer observes an ominous sight, “I noticed that many of the soldiers had taken off their coats and seemed to be engaged in sewing up rents in them. On closer examination it was found that the men were calmly writing their names and addresses on slips of paper and pinning them on the backs of their coats, so that their dead bodies might be recognized and their fate made known to their families at home.”

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