The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide

The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide

The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide

The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide

Synopsis

Often cited as one of the most decisive campaigns in military history, the Seven Days Battles were the first campaign in which Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia- as well as the first in which Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson worked together. In this guidebook, the acknowledged expert on the Seven Days Battles conducts readers, tourists, and armchair travelers through the history and terrain of this pivotal series of Civil War battles. nbsp; Maps and descriptive overviews of the battles guide readers to key locales and evoke a sense of what participants on either side saw in 1862. From the beginning of George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, which culminated in the Seven Days, to the bloody battles that saved the Confederate capital from capture, this guide unfolds the strategies, routes, and key engagements of this critical campaign, offering today's visitors and Civil War enthusiasts the clearest picture yet of what happened during the Seven Days.

Excerpt

The Seven Days Battles have been considered by British military historian J. F. C. Fuller to be one of the decisive battles in world history. They marked the end of the last chance for the Union to win the Civil War while Northern objectives were still modest—the restoration of the status quo ante. For that reason alone they are worth study. But the series of engagements in late June and early July 1862 also marked the first campaign in which Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia, as well as the first campaign in which Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson worked together as part of that army. and they were the real battle test of George B. McClellan, the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The Seven Days were different from Chickamauga or Gettysburg, the first two battles covered by the guidebooks in the This Hallowed Ground series. Gettysburg began as a meeting engagement, and to a lesser extent the same is true for Chickamauga. Both developed into multi-day set-piece battles. in contrast, the Seven Days was a running series of engagements, as Lee tried to first flank McClellan out of his position and then destroy at least part of McClellan’s army on its move to the James River. No major battlefield saw action on more than one day, and in fact the fields typically were separated by a few miles. Major parts of both armies were on the march on each of the seven days. Thus, although the armies during the Seven Days were about as large as during the Gettysburg campaign, and larger than those at Chickamauga, the forces engaged on each day were substantially smaller.

This difference has two effects on the visitor’s tour of the Seven Days sites as compared with Chickamauga or Gettysburg. First, the battlefields themselves are much smaller than either of the other two battles. Thus, they can be seen relatively quickly. Second, the distances between sites are longer, meaning there is more driving on the tour. These two effects mean it is possible to complete the tour in one day, but for those who have more time this book provides several optional excursions. Also, much of the driving is on the region’s historical road network, which to a large extent is little changed from Civil War times in this part of Virginia. This means that the tourist can better understand the armies’ movements by following the tour presented in this book.

The Seven Days are different from Chickamauga or Gettysburg in another way. the latter two battlefields are largely, if not perfectly, preserved in the sense that the key areas of each are protected as National Park Service land, along . . .

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