Seven Days Campaign (June 25th-July 1st, 1862)

The Richmond campaign of 1862 saw seven battles, so it is most often called "The Seven Days' Battles." The battles were Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines Mill (First Cold Harbor), Savages Station, Glendale, White Oak Swamp and Malvern Hill. These battles took place from June 26 to July 1, 1862. Also in May of 1862 the Union Navy tried to capture Richmond but was repelled at the Battle of Drewry's Bluff. A portion of the 1864 Overland Campiagn inlcuded Totopotomoy Creek and Cold Harbor. From September of 1864 to April of 1865, places like Fort Harrison and Deep Bottom were important in the action. As the Capital of the Confederacy there is a lot to see in Richmond related to the Civil War in addition to the Battlefields. Many of the battlefields have been destroyed by development. For instance the site of the Richmond airport is on the Seven Pines Battlefield, which was part of the Peninsula Campaign. In addition to the battlefields you should take the time to visit the Museum of the Confederacy, The Hospital Museum, Hollywood Cemetery and the Tredegar Iron Works downtown.

General Robert E. Lee's success in protecting Richmond shaped the wars middle years. Richmonders entrenched using slave labor to protect themselves, creating miles of trenches which led to many unsuccesful attacks by the Union and the loss of many men.

General Lee watched the start of the Seven Days' Battles from atop Chickahominy Bluff which looks down on Beaver Creek Dam and Gaines Mill. Today with development and trees you cannot see the battlefields the way Lee did. Beaver Dam Creek was part of a two mile front that Confederates attacked to start the battles. Union artillery and infantry stopped Confederates, but General Jackson's troop coming from the Northwest forced the Union to pull back to Gaines' Mill the site of the second battle. On June 27 Confederate Infantry assulted the Union along Boatswan Creek near Gaines' Mill. By night time both sides had lost more than 15,000 men making it the most deadly battle of the Seven Days'. As dusk approached the Texas and Georgia troops broke throught the Union line and forced a withdrawl. The defeat at Gaines' Mill convinced Union General George McClellan to abandon his campaign against Richmond and the remaining battles were defensive battles protecting his retreat to the James River. On June 30th the Union troops were protecting a vital crossroads at Glendale. In the afternoon Confederates repeatedly attacked, but could not route the Federals to cut off their retreat to the James. Union Generals Meade and Sumner, and Confederate Generals Anderson, Pender and Featherstone were all wounded at Glendale. Under the cover of darkness, McClellan withdrew to Malvern Hill where he created a strong position. The Battle of Malvern Hill was hte last of the Seven Days' Battles, after which Union forces withdrew to a new base at Harrison's Landing. At Malvern Hill the Federals stood in battle formation across the field with thier infantry and massed artillery fire shattering the ranks of the Confederates. While the Union did not entrench, Lee's series of disjointed attacks desimated the Confederate ranks. When you walk on the battledfield at Malvern Hill you realize why the Confederates were not successful against the Union. The terrain was such a strong advantage to the Union. You learn more walking these fields than reading books, so take the time to visit all the them. Imagine at Gaines Mill being a Texan or Georgian and dashing up the steep embankment under fire. Imagine looking across the field from the Confederate lines toward the Union line at Malvern Hill and seeing the lines of blue with the cannon behind them. It is an amazing thing.

You also might be surprised to know there was a naval battle at Richmond. The Battle of Drewry's Bluff. It was the last attempt by the Union to use the river to take Richmond.