Mechanicsville, VA High 83 Low 58 (humid)
If you are tired of reading about Civil War battles, please just skip this post. We visited several more battlefields and I want to just sum them up and try to organize them by date.
There were more casualties during the Civil War than there have been in all other U. S. wars.
For two weeks, May 31 – June 12, 1864, the armies of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant tangled in a complicated series of actions. A determined Confederate defense at Cold Harbor turned away a massive Federal attack on June 3 and helped convince Grant to maneuver south and advance on Petersburg.
Seven Days Battles
The Seven Days Battles were a series of six major battles and several skirmishes over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and his Union forces of more than 100,000 men hoped to capture the Confederate Capital of Richmond and end the war.
A fractured nation watched these events with intense interest. Would the war end in the summer of 1862? Lee’s bold gamble on June 26 temporarily split his available force into three separate commands. From Chickahominy Bluff he launched his first attack as commander of the Confederate army. Six days later McClellan’s force had been driven 25 miles across country to the banks of the James River. With his retreat, any hopes for an early end to the war vanished.
On the morning of June 26, 1862 more than 20,000 Confederate infantrymen gathered here prior to their advance across the Chickahominy River. Nearby on horseback sat General Robert E. Lee, watching and listening for the movement beyond the river signaling the opening of his offensive east of Richmond.
(You need to use your imagination to picture this land without the tall trees blocking the views from this bluff.)
The earthworks that were built by the Confederate soldiers.
The first battle was a minor one at Oak Grove. McClellan wanted to advance his troop line close enough to Richmond to be able to bombard it with his cannons. Between the two armies was a small, dense forest, 1,200 yards wide, bisected by the headwaters of White Oak Swamp.
McClellan was 3 miles away leading his troops by telegraph. He was given information that led him to believe that he needed to call his troops back from the battle line. After traveling to the front line he discovered that things were not as bad as he thought and ordered his men to retake the ground they had taken earlier. Darkness ended the fighting.
The Union had gained only 600 yards at a cost of over 1,000 casualties on both sides.
Beaver Creek Dam
Confederates unsuccessfully attacked on June 26. However, the bold advance, combined with the arrival of "Stonewall" Jackson's command, convinced Union commander George B. McClellan to order a withdrawal to high ground near Gaines' Mill.
On June 27, 1862 Union and Confederate soldiers fought the bloodiest battle of the Seven Days. In one day 15,000 men fell killed, wounded or captured. Gaines's Mill was the only clear-cut Confederate tactical victory of the Peninsula Campaign. Although McClellan had already planned to shift his supply base to the James River, his defeat here unnerved him and he decided to abandon his advance on Richmond.
We ran out of time to see the other battlefields as the Confederate Army continued to battle the retreating Union Army.
No Union troops, other than prisoners, reached Richmond until after the Confederate government evacuated the city on April 2, 1865.
Only 8 cities in the United States were larger than McClellan’s Army in 1862. Seven of those were in the North.