To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign
Stephen W. Sears
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To the Gates of Richmond charts the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, General George McClellan's grand scheme to march up the Virginia Peninsula and take the Confederate capital. For three months McClellan battled his way toward Richmond, but then Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate forces. In seven days, Lee drove the cautious McClellan out, thereby changing the course of the war. Intelligent and well researched, To the Gates of Richmond vividly recounts one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
the country of its principal army; of course this led his lieutenants to urge him not to risk such a calamity but instead to take the alternate course and preserve the army to fight another day. Feigning reluctance—Heintzelman reported the general commanding insisted he was still inclined to risk all on one great battle—McClellan agreed to do what he had privately decided to do some time since: the Army of the Potomac would abandon its campaign and seek a new base on the James River. No matter
them to the Long Bridge Road that led to Glendale. The last of the roads fanning out from Richmond, the River Road, the southernmost of the four, reached the James at an eminence known as Malvern Hill. It was assigned to the division of Theophilus Holmes. Stonewall Jackson, with D. H. Hill still attached to his command, had orders to join the pursuit by the shortest route, due south. Rebuilding the Grapevine Bridge and crossing the Chickahominy there, he would take position to close with the
that was shining & not a sign of any wind,” Matthew Marrin noted in his diary. Yet army routine would be served. It was the last day of the month and the 9th Pennsylvania was mustered for payday. Before the day was over 137 men of the 9th would be dead, wounded, or prisoners with their pay in their pockets. IN SPITE OF its early start that morning, Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Valley made poor time in its pursuit of the Federal rear guard. There was a great deal of booty to collect. Georgian
Jesse Reid of the 4th South Carolina reported on June 7 that in just one day five men of his company were carried off to the hospital, and a sixth had died there two days before. The worst of it, he said, was that the dead man’s only brother had been killed in the Seven Pines fight. A man in the newly arrived Pennsylvania Reserves, Jacob Heffelfinger, noted in his diary that from their camp next to a field hospital they saw three or four patients carried out every day “in plain view” for burial.
he had no idea what Jackson was doing. “I believe he hasn’t any more sense than my horse.” The staff could only tell him that that was Old Jack’s way. The Virginia Central, the most direct rail route (130 miles) between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley, had been put in a bad way by Fitz John Porter’s bridge-burning expedition near Hanover Court House in late May. The destruction of the railroad’s South Anna River bridge caught its regular passenger cars on the Richmond side of the break; on