Hello readers and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s tidbit about me is: whenever I’m riding in the passenger’s seat of a car, I feel compelled to quickly count all of the light sockets of traffic lights, as well as all of the electric transformers located on power poles and on the ground. It’s a curse.
Speaking of curses, one could argue that 150 years ago the Union army near Richmond was cursed with the “leadership” of General McClellan. After having delayed his attack on the Confederate capitol by three weeks for no other reason than “he needed to consider his objectives,” today McClellan finally began the long-overdue push towards Richmond. Interestingly enough, General Lee was at this time about to implement the plan he had been working on all month: to use General Jackson’s force along with most of Lee’s own troops to smash the northernmost part of the Union army. Lee just needed one more day for Jackson to arrive – most of his army was waiting near that northernmost part of the Union line, leaving only a few divisions to hold the southern Confederate lines at Richmond. And McClellan was probing in just that area – along the southern part of the Union line, where the Confederates were weak. A strike now could break through, and the Union would be in place to take the city!
The Union plan was simple – three divisions under General Heintzelman would push forward and take the high ground at Oak Grove just beyond the Confederate Lines, where siege guns could be brought within range of the city. McClellan would put Richmond to siege, just like he did at Yorktown. Interestingly, McClellan decided not to lead his men on the battlefield himself. Instead, McClellan would bravely monitor the battle’s progress by telegraph, from a safe position three miles to the rear. There’s a nifty battlefield map listed below, somewhere.
Luckily for the Confederates, one factor conspired against the Unions chance at victory: McClellan himself. How could he sabotage his own forces if he was hiding all the way in the back of the army, you might ask? Well, some explanation is necessary to answer that question. I am posting a second blog entry right after this one, so go check it out for the explanation!