Lee realized that he was reaching a limit to how he could respond to Grant’s continual movement to the southeast. Protecting Richmond was nailing his army in place, depriving it of the ability to maneuver as Grant used his superior numbers to outflank Lee’s defense. Lee’s left and center along the Totopotomoy were relatively easy to defend, but his right was at a right angle tot he creek as the Union forces were continuing their push south to outflank him. It was for this reason that Lee ordered Early, now in command of the II corps after Lee had relieved Ewell, attack Warren’s V corps.
The Confederate attack, although pressed heroically by the men of Ramseur’s division, proved a costly failure with 1500 Confederate casualties to 700 Union, the Union troops cheering the valor of the Confederate troops they repulsed and captured.
Grant was not going to risk an attack on Lee’s fortified line, so on the evening of May 31-June1, he shifted right again towards Cold Harbor, while Lee, prescient as usual, had sent his son General Fitzhugh Lee to seize the Cold Harbor crossroads with his cavalry. The stage was now set for one of the grimmest battles of a very grim War to get underway.