June 26, 1862 – Battle of Mechanicsville, VA – aka – Beaver Dam Creek / Ellerson’s Mill
<<Today is the second of a series of posts on the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, Virginia that occurred 150 years ago this week.>>
With McClellan’s Army of the Potomac divided by the Chickahominy, Lee determined to attack the Union right flank on the north side of the river. This exposed the immediate front of Richmond and Lee’s Army to odds of 2:1 against them to their east, but McClellan – not believing he had superior numbers – did not launch an attack.
The Confederate movement to attack Fitz John Porter’s Corps north of the river involved the three divisions of A.P. Hill, D.H. Hill, and Longstreet, along with the newly arriving forces of Stonewall Jackson. The plan was that Jackson would open the attack on the extreme right Union flank. But even Jackson could not perform marching miracles every day, and his men were late to arrive. Finally, in the afternoon, A.P. Hill launched the attack without Jackson – about 14,000 assaulting an entrenched 15,000 – all the way to the Beaver Dam Creek. Jackson arrived late and added inconsequentially to the fight.
The result of this battle on this date of June 26, 1862 was a Union victory – the Federals suffering only 360 losses as compared to 1,500 for the Rebels. But McClellan snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, as spooked by the entire affair, he initiated plans for a change of base to the James River – euphemistically speaking, a retreat. Porter pulled back in the evening to Gaines’ Mill, nearer to the bridges over the Chickahominy. This would be the place and name for battle the following day.