The Peninsular Campaign of the U.S. Civil War was an unsuccessful Union advance against Richmond, Va., that began in April 1862 when Gen. George B. McClellan moved his force of 110,000 toward the peninsula between the York and James rivers. The general was responding to pressure from President Abraham Lincoln who, during the year following the first Battle of Bull Run, had been urging his commanders to sweep Confederate forces from the Potomac in preparation for an attack on Richmond, the Confederate capital. McClellan's plan had merit: his army could advance with its flanks guarded by Union gunboats, and the heavy defense of Richmond would be weakened. The plan also had defects: joint maneuvers were difficult at best, and when massive troop movements were involved, combined operations were extremely cumbersome. Nevertheless, McClellan led his army ashore below Yorktown by early April 1862 and a month later captured that city. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, the Confederate commander, moved most of his troops south to defend Richmond, sent a force down the peninsula, and contested McClellan's advance with roughly equal numbers. McClellan expected help from Gen. Irvin McDowell's 40,000 men. Gen. Robert E. Lee, however, acting as advisor to President Jefferson Davis, dispatched Gen. Stonewall Jackson to the Shenandoah Valley, an action that resulted in the diversion of McDowell's troops.
Johnston attacked McClellan at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), a few miles east of Richmond, May 31-June 1, 1862. In heavy fighting Johnston was wounded and his men were driven toward Richmond. President Davis gave command of the Confederate army to General Lee, who immediately planned to attack McClellan. Summoning Jackson from the Shenandoah Valley, Lee proposed a difficult turning movement around McClellan's right flank, exposed above the Chickahominy River.
In the Seven Days Battles (June 26-July 2, 1862), Lee hurled his 85,000 men
against McClellan's 100,000. Successive clashes at Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines's
Mill, Savage's Station, and Glendale brought the armies to the terrible battle
of Malvern Hill on July 1. Here Lee was checked, but McClellan, ordered by
Washington authorities not to take the offensive with his weakened troops,
retreated to the Union base at Harrison's Landing, and the campaign ended in
SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS
March 17, 1862
Embarkation of the Army of the Potomac commenced at Alexandria, Va.
March 26, 1862
Confederate Department of Henrico, under command of Brig. Gen. John H. Winder, extended to embrace Petersburg and vicinity.
March 27, 1862
General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, ordered to re-enforce the Army of the Peninsula.
March 31, 1862
Blenker's division ordered to Mountain (Frémont's) Department.
April 1-2, 1862
Headquarters Army of the Potomac transferred to vicinity of Fort Monroe.
April 4, 1862
The First Army Corps (McDowell's) detached from Army of the Potomac and merged into Department of the Rappahannock. The Fifth Army Corps (Banks')merged into the Department of the Shenandoah. Skirmish at Howard's Mill, near Cockletown.
April 5, 1862 - May 4, 1862
Siege of Yorktown.
April 11, 1862
Confederate naval operations in Hampton Roads.
April 12, 1862
Command of General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, extended over the Departments of Norfolk and the Peninsula.
April 22, 1862
Franklin's division arrives at Yorktown.
May 4, 1862
Skirmishes near Williamsburg.
May 5, 1862
Battle of Williamsburg.
May 6, 1862
Williamsburg occupied by the Union forces.
May 7, 1862
Engagement at West Point, Barhamsville, or Eltham's Landing.
May 7-8, 1862
Reconnaissance to Mulberry Point, James River.
May 8, 1862
Naval demonstration upon Sewell's Point.
May 9, 1862
Norfolk evacuated by the Confederate forces. Skirmish at Slatersville.
May 10, 1862
Norfolk and Portsmouth occupied by the Union forces.
May 13, 1862
Skirmish at Baltimore Cross-Roads, near New Kent Court-House.
May 15, 1862
Engagement at Fort Darling, James River.
May 17, 1862
Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell ordered to move upon Richmond in co-operation with Major-General McClellan. Expedition up the Pamunkey River.
May 18, 1862
Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter, U.S. Army, assumes command of Fifth Army Corps (reorganized). Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, U.S. Army, assumes command of Sixth Army Corps.
May 18-19, 1862
Reconnaissance toward Old Church.
May 19, 1862
Skirmish at City Point, James River. Skirmish at Gaines' Mill.
May 20-23, 1862
Operations about Bottom's Bridge, Chickahominy River.
May 21, 1862
Advance across Bottom's Bridge.
May 22, 1862
Reconnaissance to New Castle and Hanovertown Ferries.
May 23, 1862
Reconnaissance from Bottom's Bridge toward Richmond. Reconnaissance from Bottom's Bridge to the Turkey Island Creek Bridge. Skirmish at Ellison's Mill, near Mechanicsville. Skirmish at Hogan's, near New Bridge.
May 24, 1862
McDowell's orders to move upon Richmond suspended. Skirmish at New Bridge. Skirmish at Seven Pines. Skirmish at Mechanicsville. Reconnaissance toward Hanover Court-House.
May 25-26, 1862
Expedition from Bottom's Bridge to James River.
May 26, 1862
Reconnaissance toward Hanover Court-House. 27, 1862. Skirmish at Slash Church. Skirmish at White Oaks.
Engagement at Hanover Court-House (27th) and operations (28th-29th) in that vicinity.
May 28, 1862
Virginia Central Railroad Bridge, on South Anna River, destroyed by Union forces. Destruction of Confederate supplies at Ashland.
May 29, 1862
Skirmish near Seven Pines. Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad Bridge, on South Anna River, destroyed.
May 30, 1862
Skirmish near Fair Oaks. Skirmish near Zuni.
May 31 - June 1, 1862
Battle of Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines.
June 1, 1862
General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, assumes command of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Department of Virginia extended and embraced in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's command, Maj. Gen. John E. Wool, U.S. Army, being assigned to the Middle Department, and Maj. Gen. John A. Dix, U.S. Army, to command at Fort Monroe.
June 1-2, 1862
Reconnaissance beyond Seven Pines.
June 2, 1862
Expedition to Wormley's Ferry, Pamunkey River.
June 3-7, 1862
Reconnaissance to the James River to communicate with the Union fleet.
June 5, 1862
Skirmish at New Bridge.
June 7, 1862
Reconnaissance on east bank of the Chickahominy.
June 8, 1862
Skirmish near Fair Oaks. Major-General McDowell ordered, under conditions stated, to operate in the direction of Richmond. Reconnaissance on the New Market Road.
June 11, 1862
Re-enforcements sent from Army of Northern Virginia to the Valley District.
June 12-13, 1862
McCall's division re-enforces the Army of the Potomac.
June 13-15, 1862
Stuart's raid, including skirmishes at Hawes' Shop, Old Church, and Garlick's Landing.
June 15, 1862
Reconnaissance to vicinity of New Market. Skirmish near Seven Pines. Parley between Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb, C. S. Army, and Col. Thomas M. Key, U.S. Army.
June 17, 1862
Jackson's command moves from vicinity of Staunton and Weyer's Cave for the Peninsula.
June 18, 1862
Skirmish near Fair Oaks. Skirmish on Nine Mile Road, near Richmond.
June 19, 1862
Skirmish on the Charles City Road, near Richmond.
June 20, 1862
Skirmish near New Bridge. Affair at Gill's Bluff, James River.
June 21, 1862
The Confederate Department of North Carolina extended to the south bank of James River. Skirmish near Fair Oaks Station.
June 22-23, 1862
Reconnaissance to the left of White Oak Swamp.
June 23, 1862
Operations about New Kent Court-House.
June 24, 1862
Skirmish near Mechanicsville.
June 25 - July 1, 1862 " The Seven-days' Battles."
June 27, 1862
Jackson re-enforces Army of Northern Virginia.
June 28, 1862
Expedition from Fort Monroe to open communication with Army of the Potomac.
July 2, 1862
Skirmish near New Kent Court-House. Skirmish at Malvern Hill. Affair near Haxall's Landing.
July 3, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing, on Charles City Road.
July 3-4, 1862
Skirmishes near Herring Creek, or Harrison's Landing.
July 4, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing. Skirmish at Westover.
July 5-6, 1862
Operations against Union shipping, James River.
July 7-9, 1862
Reconnaissance from Yorktown.
July 9, 1862
Reconnaissance on the Long Bridge Road.
July 10, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing toward White Oak Swamp and skirmish.
July 11, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing beyond Charles City Court-House, Va.
July 16, 1862
Reconnaissance from Westover, on the Richmond Road.
July 22, 1862
Maj. Gen. John A. Dix assumes command of the Seventh Army Corps, Department of Virginia. Maj. Gen. A. E. Burnside assumes command of the Ninth Army Corps. Affair near Westover.
July 22-30, 1862
Scout in King William, King and Queen, and Gloucester Counties.
July 23, 1862
Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck assumes command of the Armies of the United States.
July 29, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing to Saint Mary's Church.
July 30, 1862
McClellan ordered to remove his sick, etc. Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing to Jones' Ford, Chickahominy River.
July 31 - August 1, 1862
Attack on Union camps and shipping between Shirley and Harrison's Landing.
August 2-8, 1862
Reconnaissance from Harrison's Landing and reoccupation of Malvern Hill by the Union forces.
August 3, 1862
Reconnaissance on south side of James River and skirmish at Sycamore Church. McClellan ordered to withdraw his forces to Aquia Creek.
August 4-5, 1862
Reconnaissance from Coggins Point beyond Sycamore Church.
August 5, 1862
Skirmish at White Oak Swamp Bridge. Engagement at Malvern Hill.
August 6, 1862
Skirmish at Malvern Hill.
August 13, 1862
Preliminary orders issued for the movement of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Peninsula.
August 14-15, 1862
The Third and Fifth Army Corps move from Harrison's Landing for Aquia Creek
August 14-19, 1862
Operations of the cavalry covering the rear of the Army of the Potomac from Harrison's Landing to Williamsburg.
August 17, 1862
Reconnaissance toward Forge Bridge.
August 20, 1862
The Fifth Army Corps embarked at Newport News.
August 21, 1862
The Third Army Corps sail from Yorktown.
August 23, 1862
The Sixth Army Corps embarked at Fort Monroe.
August 26, 1862
The Second Army Corps left Fort Monroe.