150 years ago, June 1862
The campaign season is underway and the armies are on the move. This June victory seems very close in Washington. At Seven Pines the Confederates under Gustavus W. Smith continue attacking the isolated II and IV Corps. Robert E. Lee orders the attacks stopped late in the day. Smith, in command due to J.E. Johnston’s wound, asked to be relieved. Jefferson Davis gives command to Robert E. Lee.
On the Mississippi River, gunboats force the evacuation of Fort Pillow.
On the sixth, after a naval battle, Memphis is captured. This is the fifth largest city in the CSA and a vital staging area for all operations on the river.
“Stonewall” Jackson is retreating in the Shenandoah Valley. On the sixth, Ashby Turner is mortally wounded near Harrisonburg.
Jackson turns attacking at Cross Keys and Port Republic. These two small battles cowers John C. Fremont and defeats James Shields. This ends Jackson’s Valley Campaign. His small army has occupied 60,000 Federal troops, panicked Washington diverting resources from the Richmond front.
On the 12th, J.E.B. Stuart starts his first ride around the Army of the Potomac. This ride verifies the Right or northern flank is “in the air”. Lee starts planning an offensive to drive McClellan away from Richmond.
The Battle of Secessionville occurs on the 16th. Henry W. Benham, in violation of specific orders, attacks a fortified position commanded by Colonel Thomas G. Lamar. The defeat is a minor disaster in the campaign to capture Charleston.
Lincoln brings John Pope, hero of Island Number 10, East to command the forces in Northern Virginia. Fremont resigns rather than serve under Pope and is replaced with Franz Sigel.
On the 17th, Braxton Bragg is given command of what becomes the Army of Tennessee from P.G.T. Beauregard. On the 20th, at Tupelo he takes command. Beauregard angered Jefferson Davis by taking sick leave without his expressed consent. This is the reason Davis uses but he is a close friend of Bragg and dislikes Beauregard.
On June 19th, the government outlaws slavery in the territories fulfilling a campaign promise.
Lee’s generals meet near Richmond to hear his plan to attack Fitz John Porter’s V Corps on the 23rd. Almost 75% of Lee’s army, 55,000 men, will attack the 30,000 man V Corps attempting to destroy it and cut land communications to Washington.
On June 25th, six miles from Richmond, the Federals seize Oak Grove after a day of heavy fighting. This advances the lines 600 yards to allow placement of heavy cannon to bombard Richmond.
Troops under Generals McDowell, Fremont and Banks are organized into the Army of Western Virginia commander by John Pope. Fremont resigns rather than serve under Pope.
At about 3PM on the 26th, A.P. Hill orders his command to attack Fitz John Porter’s 30,000 man V Corps. Hill giving up on Jackson arriving in Porter’s rear launches an attack. Troops commanded by James Longstreet and D.H. Hill join the attack. The battle of Mechanicsville or Beaver Dam Creek. Lee’s losses are almost four times Porters but this battle causes McClellan to suspend operations against Richmond. The isolated V Corps is ordered to join the main army.
On the 27th, Porter withdraws from Mechanicsville to Gaines Mill. The V Corps deploys on a plateau behind Boatswain Swamp. Lee, with 56,000 men, attacks without success for about five hours. About 7:30 John B. Hood’s Texans break the Federal line capturing 14 cannon. Porter withdraws and Jackson fails to make an appearance for the second day.
While the Army of Northern Virginia has failed to destroy one Corp, McClellan abandons operations against Richmond and retreats toward the James River.
On the 28th, Lee opens a general offensive as McClellan retreats. Fighting occurs at Golding’s farm.
June 29th, sees fighting at Allen’s Farm as the Federals withdraw to Savage’s Station. Jackson builds a bridge to cross the Chickahominy River.
The last day of June sees the battle of White Oak Swamp or Glendale. Cutting the junction of the Charles City Road, Long Bridge Road and the Quaker Road will trap the Federal army. Jackson swaps cannon fire and fails to attack. Magruder gets lost spending the day marching back and forth. Huger cannot clear the Charles City Road and fails to advance on time. Longstreet and A.P. Hill attack alone but almost break the line.
The Army of the Potomac has fought the Army of Northern Virginia to a standstill during an unnecessary withdrawal. McClellan, not his army, is defeated. Overnight the army withdraws to Malvern Hill.