Seven Days Battles 1862: Lee's Defense of Richmond
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When General Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy was in crisis. General McClellan's Union army lay encamped less than ten miles from Richmond, and the Southerners were outnumbered and dispirited. Lee changed all that in a brilliant weeklong campaign. Stuart's reconnaissance in force, immortalised as his ride around McClellan's army, had revealed flaws in McClellan's dispositions. Lee used this intelligence well, and massed his outnumbered force against the Union right flank. On 26 June the Confederates struck, fighting two hard-fought and bloody battles in two days; Mechanicsville (26 June) and Gaine's Mill (27 June). Although the victories were won at a terrible human cost, the ferocity of the Confederate assaults convinced McClellan that he was outnumbered. He duly retreated towards his supply base on the James River. Lee's men pursued, and McClellan was forced to make a fighting retreat, stopping twice to delay his pursuers. Despite two more battles at Frayser's Farm (30 June) and Malvern Hill (1 July), he was unable to keep the Confederates at bay, and the Union army was recalled to Washington. Despite losing a quarter of his army in a week, Lee had saved Richmond, and inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Army of the Potomac. Although other victories would follow, Lee's battles in defence of the Confederate capital were crucial to the survival of the Southern cause, and won him the respect of the fighting men on both sides. Angus Konstam traces the course of this short and bloody campaign, the beginnings of Robert E. Lee's legendary reputation, and the origins of the battle-winning elan of the Army of Northern Virginia.
ofartillery and infantry, which strewed the road and hillside with hundreds of dead and wounded, and drove the main body of the survivors back in rapid flight to and beyond Mechanicsville." This was not strictly accurate, as while Field's men managed to withdraw, many of Archer's troops went to ground in hollows, or charged forward to the tree line in front of the Creek. The Union troops fired as if on exercise, and the attack ground to a halt in a hail of shot. According to Porter, "Some
casualties halt the Confederate advance. THE BATTLE OF GAINE'S MILL 42 27 June 1862, viewed from the southwest. After Mechanicsville, Porter withdrew behihd Boatswain's Creek, a superb defensive position protecting the crossings over the Chickahominy River. Reinforced by "Stonewall" Jackson, Lee launched a series of costly frontal attacks against the Union position, forcing Porter to fight all along his line. Victory would go to the commander who displayed the greatest will to win, regardless
Malvern Hill. He survived the battle, but was killed at the head of his men at the climax of Pickett's charge on the final day of the battle of Gettysburg almost exactly a year later. (Stratford Archive) Malvern Hill dominated the River Road (seen in the middle distance in this view south from Malvern House). The hill was just over a mile from the banks of the James River, where Union gunboats were able to provide gunfire support for McClellan's troops. This watercolor by William Mcilvaine Jr.
Captain Robert O. Tyler VI Corps Brigadier General George Sykes Brigadier General William B. Franklin (17,000 men) 1st Brigade - Brigadier General Robert C. Buchanan 3rd US 4th US 12th US 14th US 2nd Brigade - Lieutenant Colonel William Chapman (Major Charles S. Lovell) 2nd US 6th US 10th US 11th US 17th US 3rd Brigade - Colonel Gouverneur K. Warren 5th New York 10th New York Divisional Artillery - Captain Stephen H. Weed 3rd US Artillery (Batteries L & M) 5th US Artillery (Battery I) 3rd
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Porter was the son of a distinguished naval officer, whose uncle won renown as a naval commander during the War of 1812. He was also a cousin of David D. Porter, a Union Admiral who served with distinction during the Civil War. Surprisingly he opted for a career in the army rather than the navy, and graduated from West Point in 1845. He won two brevet promotions for gallantry during the Mexican-American War (1846-48), and then served as an instructor and adjutant at