Sunday, July 1, 2012

Seven Days -- Malvern Hill

On this first day of July, in 1862, the final assault and battle of the Seven Days Battles took place -- the Battle of Malvern Hill.

Ever since the attacks on the Union V Corps at Mechanicsville (26 June) and Gaine's Mill (27 June), US General McClellan had ordered the retreat of the Union Army of the Potomac to a new position on the James River.  This meant both abandoning the north side of the Chickahominy River and that supply line, and giving up the campaign to capture Richmond.

File:After Battle of Savage's Station.png
Image of Savage's Station, Va. field hospital after the battle.

CS General Robert E. Lee, after forcing the Union army back with those first two attacks, turned his attention to the possibility of not only forcing them away from Richmond, but destroying the Union host altogether.  On 29 June, CS General Magruder's divisions attacked the Union II Corps at Savage's Station, in Henrico County, Va., which had been the site of the Union supply depot.  The Confederates inflicted twice the loses, and captured 2,500 Union troops who were captured at their field hospital.  This is the NPS summary of that battle:

File:Seven Days June 30.png

On 30 June, Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia launched yet another round of attacks -- this time in what is variously called White Oak Swamp, Glendale, or Frayser's Farm.  Although Lee's particular tactical plans failed to materialize as intended, this battle served to continue to push the Union army away from Richmond.  Here is the NPS summary:

Finally, on 1 July 1862, Robert E. Lee ordered the last attack on McClellan's force at Malvern Hill.  In this battle, each side had about 80,000 on the field, with the II, III, and V Corps of the Union army positioned atop Malvern Hill, and well supported by artillery -- 100 guns lined the hill.  The commands of CS Generals Magruder, Huger, and D.H. Hill would all be involved in an assault that went terribly wrong.  In the aftermath, CS General Daniel H. Hill said of the attack at Malvern Hill: "It was not war, it was murder."  Lee lost over 5,000 men to about 3,000 Union casualties.  The NPS describes the battle as follows:

Here is a link to the site for the modern National Park facility, Richmond National Battlefield Park, that includes these battlefields and information on the anniversary:

File:Seven Days July 1.png
Map of the Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July, 1862.

Nevertheless, the Seven Days' Battles had finally come to an end, and in that week's time, Richmond was saved, and the Union beaten back to Harrison's Landing on the James River.  Lee and his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had lost more than 20,000 men, while McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac lost nearly 16,000.

Richmond was saved, but McClellan and his host remained on the Peninsula, and a new host was forming around Washington, DC...

Live well!

No comments:

Post a Comment