Hello again readers, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! I hope you all had a lovely weekend, and are ready to hear about the exciting conclusion to the Battle of Seven Pines! Today’s tidbit about me is: I once attended a Blackbeard Festival in Hampton, VA, where two sailboats and two sets of reenactors relived the killing of Blackbeard. I was very surprised to see that about a third of all the pistol and musket shots between them seemed to misfire, but apparently that was about par for the course back then.
Now, in my previous article, I left you with a cliffhanger: General Johnston was wounded while leading his troops on the evening of May 31st! Let’s pick up right where we left off – as evening fell, the Confederate command system was in disarray. Communication problems had plagued the South all morning, and the Confederate troops were flung into even greater confusion when the army’s commander was removed. The Union troops, on the other hand, were in a much better position as fighting ground to a halt. They had held the Seven Pines defensive line, and General Sedgwick’s reinforcements added new strength to the Northern force. The next morning, the Confederates renewed their attacks, but to no avail – the Union positions were now too strong for them. By noon, the Confederates had broken off their attacks and withdrawn.
The Battle of Seven Pines set in motion three important courses of events that would have a big impact on the course of the war in 1862. The first was that it scared General McClellan so badly that he spent almost an ENTIRE MONTH waiting in the exact same position that he occupied before the battle, which was just six miles from Richmond.
The second course of events resulted from the wounding of Johnston. With no capable army officer available to take his place, President Davis appointed his military advisor as commander of the Confederate Army. And who, pray, was Davis’s military advisor?
… That’s right. Davis replaced the wounded Johnston with General Robert E. Lee, who immediately began rectifying the South’s sorry strategic position by building defenses, calling in more reinforcements, and planning an offensive.
As for the third course of events, some explanation is necessary before revealing it. Since McClellan was badly scared by the Battle of Seven Pines, he transferred almost all of his army to the south side of the Chickahominy River. This changed the center of his operations, and allowed for more focused naval support from the James River. Now, while McClellan sat around ‘planning” the attack on the Confederate capitol, President Lincoln grew impatient. McClellan was just sitting there, within a 2-3 hour’s march of downtown Richmond, and refused to divulge any plans or timetables. The only communication he had with Washington DC was a constant stream of – you guessed it – reinforcement requests. Since the center of his operations had shifted from the Chickahominy to the James, though, Lincoln saw an opportunity to utilize the Union naval presence in Hampton Roads. This brings us to the third course of event – an attempted river raid on the Petersburg railroad supply lines, which included the USS Monitor!
I’ll be telling you all about this exciting secret operation in the weeks ahead, culminating in the 150th anniversary of the raid itself! In the meantime, keep tuning in to the Connection’s Blog for exciting glimpses back into the past!