Battle of Malvern Hill

<<Today is the sixth and final of a series of posts on the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, Virginia that occurred 150 years ago this week.>>

On this date 150 years ago, July 1 would feature the final and most deadly of the Seven Days Battles in front of Richmond. Malvern Hill was a high ground bluff overlooking Harrison’s Landing on the James with a gentle northern slope. Here the Union was strongly established in its “change of base” retreat to the James River.

Yet again, the Confederates attacked a difficult position with insufficient support and bad orders. None of the assaults approached any measure of success for breaking through. The Rebels especially suffered from the deadly accurate fire of 250 Union guns under Henry Hunt – McClellan’s chief of artillery.

Total losses for the day would be about 5,300 Confederate and 3,200 Union. For the entire week, the South lost about 20,000 of the 85-90,000 and the North about 16,000 of the 115,000 or more engaged.

In the final analysis, Lee is hailed for the strategic victory of driving McClellan away from Richmond; yet, the week was filled with tactical flaws and losses galore!! On four occasions, the Union carried the day, and slipped away at night. The loss for the Union, and the nearly three years until Richmond would be taken, would guarantee that the country would be massively reconstructed from the pre-1860s era.

As a review and summary of the past seven days … (from: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Seven_Days_Battles)

June 25, 1862 – Union general George B. McClellan’s forces advance on Oak Grove south of the Chickahominy River in the first of the Seven Days’ Battles. The fighting ends with little tangible result.

June 26, 1862 – Confederate general Robert E. Lee attacks Union general Fitz-John Porter’s lines north of the Chickahominy River near Mechanicsville but is repulsed. Confederate forces under Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson arrive in the afternoon but are too late to affect the battle’s outcome.

June 27, 1862 – After a series of assaults during the afternoon, Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee finally defeat Fitz-John Porter near Gaines’s Mill. Porter crosses the Chickahominy River that night, and Union general George B. McClellan starts his retreat to the James River.

June 29, 1862 – After a day of confusion, Confederate general John B. Magruder attacks Union general George B. McClellan’s rear guard at Savage’s Station but is stopped.

June 30, 1862 – Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s best chance to severely hurt Union general George B. McClellan is thwarted at Glendale by a combination of hard Union fighting and Confederate failures of command.

July 1, 1862 – Several assaults on the Union position at Malvern Hill are bloodily repulsed because of Confederate command failures. Nevertheless, Union general George B. McClellan begins his final retreat to the James River during the night.

July 2, 1862 – The Army of the Potomac arrives at its new base at Harrison’s Landing.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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