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Was Bull Run, 2nd Manasass, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, The Mule Shoe or Cold Harbor devastating? Arguments could be made either way.
My guess would be yes and no depending on your perspective.
Well, as I say, it’s a semantic argument, so I suspect you are probably right about that. Keeping focus on the Wilderness, I would turn the question around. If Lee’s flanking movements were so “devastating”, what did they devastate? Certainly not the Army of the Potomac. Heck, they didn’t even allow Lee to snatch the initiative away from Grant and Meade.