The Civil War Connections Blog

Fighting Doubles

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s tidbit about me is: I usually play video games in my spare time, when I’m not socializing or doing miscellaneous required tasks. However, I also like sports and outdoor-related activities, for I believe that one should strive for a well-rounded set of experiences.

From Valve, Maximus Worlderus and

Be careful, though – Well-Roundedness can lead to isolated cases of Genre-Bending.


Well, 150 years ago the Seven Days battles had already erupted. My last blog posting (Tuesday) covered the ill-fated Appomattox River Raid, but that raid took place on the same day that the Confederates launched their first attack on the Union forces near Richmond. Having amassed his own army of over 80,000 men at Richmond (and with 30,000 more men under General Jackson on their way from the Shenandoah Valley,) General Lee was ready to take on General McClellan’s army of 130,000 men. Lee tried to launch a coordinated assault on the exposed northern section of the Union’s position, but that didn’t really pan out…


Kind of like this man’s hopes and dreams.


Here’s why: Jackson was supposed to arrive from the northwest during the day, then immediately launch his attack: once he did so, General A.P. Hill would attack from the west and the local Union force – a single Army Corps under General Porter – would be crushed between the two of them. Kind of like how Seven Pines was supposed to go. And like Seven Pines, the wing that was supposed to start the attack (in this case, Jackson’s wing) failed to do so. To be fair, Jackson’s men had just marched all the way across Virginia to get to the battlefield, and had been marching over and over the Shenandoah Valley before that. They were more than a little tired, and were not near the field yet. A.P. Hill got sick of waiting and at 3pm decided to attack without him, thereby beginning the Battle of Mechanicsville. His men were slaughtered.


Attacking straight across a stream and up a hill at a whole bunch of infantry and cannons isn’t the best of ideas.


The battle was technically a Union victory, but that night Porter had to retreat anyway. By nightfall Jackson had almost arrived on the battlefield and would be ready to attack by the next morning. If Porter didn’t fall back, he would be caught between Jackson and A.P. Hill – for real, this time. The next day, the Confederates had to advance to Porter’s new position about 6 miles to the east. The plan for the second day was almost exactly the same as the plan for the first – Jackson and A.P. Hill would both attack Porter at Gaines Mill, and crush him between their forces. Thing is, Jackson STILL wasn’t there yet! Jackson’s absence on the second day was not due to fatigue – his men had arrived late on the first day, and had rested a bit. Instead, they were late to Gaines Mill because Jackson didn’t know the area well: on the morning of the second day, he took the wrong road to the battlefield. Since Jackson AGAIN wasn’t there on time, the rest of the Confederate army AGAIN began the attack without him. And AGAIN, the Union slaughtered their piecemeal assaults.


It’s ALMOST the same as Mechanicsville, except way bloodier.


By the time Jackson FINALLY arrived, the day was getting late. Deciding he’d best make the most of the few hours of light left, Jackson threw his men in an attack with the rest of the Confederate force – this time, in a coordinated effort. Porter’s men broke, and fled headlong into the gathering dusk. The darkness saved them – with no light to maneuver by, the Confederates had to break off their pursuit, and Porter escaped with much of his corps intact. The Confederates had won, but at a terrible cost.


Oh No!! The sunset is happening RIGHT NOW, but those trees are blocking our view! We won’t get to see it at all!


Now, General Lee is perhaps one of the most famous American military men ever. He has a reputation as a master strategist and tactician, and his personality is perceived as being both genteel and kindly. But these first two battles in his first offensive do not contribute much positive acclaim to his reputation. Both battles were disorganized, ill-timed and extremely bloody. In two days of fighting, the Confederates had lost 10,000 men to the Union’s 7,200. The Union army was in retreat, however, so Richmond was saved – and in the end, isn’t that what matters?

Well, tune in next time for more Civil War coverage – I’m going to refrain from saying exactly what it’ll be about, since my topics seem to shift pretty drastically. In any case, have a good one!