<<Today is the fourth of a series of posts on the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, Virginia that occurred 150 years ago this week.>>
The fourth of the significant conflicts of the Seven Days Battles occurred on this date of June 29, 1862. As McClellan continued his “change of base” (retreat) to the James River, Lee attempted to aggressively pursue, with hopes that on this day perhaps a large chunk of the Army of the Potomac could be cut off.
But when darkness fell, few commanders on either side would score high grades in leadership. Lee’s own circle of command forwarded confusing and garbled directives; Jackson was not aggressive in typical fashion; Magruder’s main attack on the Union rearguard of Summer’s Second Corps would elicit a reprimand from Lee; McClellan was far south of the action with no orders for the retreat; and Heintzelman decided on his own that Sumner’s two divisions and Franklin’s one division were sufficient, and so he retreated without informing the others.
In fact, the three divisions were sufficient as a rear guard; and despite some initial Confederate successes of Magruder’s troops, the Union was ultimately able to hold off the attacks. Rebel attempts to flank and circumvent the AOP’s withdrawal were insufficient and late.
The Federals were ordered to burn whatever they could not carry in their retreat across the White Oak Swamp. And unfortunately, about 2,500 Union wounded were left behind in a field hospital at Savage’s Station.
Total losses on the day (beyond the 2,500 wounded) were over 1,000 for the Yankees and close to 500 for the Rebels. The most significant losses were suffered by the Vermont Brigade of Colonel Brooks – of Baldy Smith’s division. Brigade losses totaled 439, with the 5th Vermont losing nearly half its number – 209 out of 428 total.