Battle Of Seven Days Facts
Henrico County, Virginia
June 25 – July 1, 1862
Union: George B. McClellan
Confederate: Gen. Robert E. Lee
Important Events & Figures
Battle of Oak Grove
Battle of Mechanicsville
Battle of Gaines’ Mill
Battle of Garnett & Golding’s Farm
Battle of Savage Station
Battle of Glendale
Battle of Malvern Hill
Seven Days Battle Casualties
Seven Days Battle Articles
Explore articles from the History Net archives about the Seven Days Battle
» See all 7 Days Battle Articles
Seven Days Battle Summary: The Seven Days Battle or Seven Days Campaign took place from June 25 to July 1, 1862 and featured six different battles along the Virginia Peninsula east of Richmond. The Union Army of the Potomac, led by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, was over 100,000 men strong yet was steadily driven away from the ultimate goal of Richmond and back to the James River by Confederates led by a new field commander—Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Lee had been serving as military adviser to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, but when Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was wounded May 31 during the Battle of Seven Pines (Battle of Fair Oaks), Davis asked Lee to take command of the army in the field. Lee immediately set the men to work building defensive positions around Richmond, leading his grumbling soldiers to dub him "the Prince of Spades." But Lee knew he could not protect the Confederate capital for long against such overwhelming odds. After Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson arrived with troops from the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Lee prepared to strike McClellan’s Army.
McClellan struck first, sending two divisions of the III Corps to secure the Richmond & York River Railroad. The fighting on June 25 in the swamps around Oak Grove proved indecisive.
Lee took the initiative the next day, assaulting Federal positions along Beaver Dam Creek, north of the Chickahominy River. The plan depended on a rapid movement by Jackson’s tired men, who arrived too late. Major General A. P. Hill’s Confederate troops attacked as planned but were beaten back. However, the Federals, with Jackson on their right flank and Hill and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet to their front and left, fell back behind Boatswain Creek east of Gaines Mill.
On June 27, the Confederates attacked those positions in a series of costly charges. On the south side of the Chicahominy, a Confederate force from Maj. Gen. "Prince John" Magruder’s command attacked Federals at Garnett’s Farm but were repulsed. The savage attacks convinced the cautious McClellan that he needed to give up his plan to capture Richmond and fall back along his line of supply.
The 28th saw little fighting except for a failed Confederate reconnaissance attempt at Golding’s Farm. On June 29, Magruder struck the Union rear guard at Savage’s Station but with little effect.
On the 30th, three Confederate divisions hit Union positions in a battle known as Glendale or Frayser’s Farm. The Union division of Brig. Gen. George A. McCall routed, and their commander was captured, but counterattacks stopped the Rebel advance. Farther north, an assault by Jackson stalled in White Oak Swamp, and to the south, a half-hearted attempt by Maj. Gen. T. H. Holmes was turned back by Federal gunboats.
McClellan took up a strong defensive position on Malvern Hill a little north of the James River. Lee hammered the defenders with repeated assaults that cost the Confederate army 5,600 men but failed to carry the position. Strategically, however, Lee had won. McClellan retreated down the peninsula. Richmond was saved. Lee, whose reputation had previously suffered as a result of campaigns in Western Virginia over which he had little control, emerged as the Savior of the South. By August, he will have carried the fight back to Northern Virginia and, the following month, he and McClellan will clash again, this time along Antietam Creek outside Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Banner image Battle of Friday on the Chickahominy, created by Alfred Waud, Library of Congress.
Articles Featuring The Seven Days Battle From History Net Magazines
Seven Days Battle Articles
Irvin McDowell’s Best Laid PlansThe orderly advance of Union troops at the start of the battle would become a distant memory in the hellish retreat that followed the fighting. Picture credit: Frank Leslie'sThe ‘unexpected’ Rebels he met at Bull Run weren’t unexpected at all In the early summer of 1861, few people North or South believed the Confederate David …
McClellan’s War-Winning StrategyThe "young Napoleon" had a viable plan to beat the Confederacy. What went wrong?
Emmitsburg Road Preservation CampaignCivil War Preservation Trust announces latest campaign Fundraising has begun for the preservation of a crucial two-acre parcel on the Gettysburg battlefield. The property, originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, lies along the Emmitsburg Road and is entirely surrounded by Gettysburg National Military Park. It has been a top land acquisition priority for …
Six Weeks in the Saddle with Brig. Gen. John BufordUnion Brigadier General John Buford's troopers kept their carbines warm harassing Robert E. Lee's army during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign.
Believe it or not, here’s something new on LeeRobert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865 by Ethan S. Rafuse Rowman & Littlefield, 2008 Is it really possible there’s anything new to say about Robert E. Lee, who probably has had more written about him than any other Civil War military figure? Ethan Rafuse clearly thinks so, and in Robert E. …
Union General Daniel SicklesOn two separate battlefields, Union General Daniel Sickles carelessly exposed his men -- and the entire army -- to possible defeat. Only the quick actions of other Federal officers managed to compensate for Sickles' errors and keep his mistakes from becoming disasters. It was life as usual for 'Devil Dan.'
Recently Discovered Memoir about Gen. T. J. ‘Stonewall’ JacksonAn overlooked manuscript in Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, contains a memoir about Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson by a man who was with him from VMI to Manassas.
America’s Civil War: Where Does Private Jemison RestWhere is the final resting place of Confederate Private Edwin F. Jemison, killed at Malvern Hill?
America’s Civil War: Why the Irish Fought for the UnionThe Irish experience in the Civil War has probably received more attention — and celebration — than that of any other ethnic group. Mention of the Irish commonly conjures up images of the Irish Brigade’s doomed charge at Fredericksburg, of Father William Corby granting absolution before Gettysburg, or possibly the mourning wolfhound at the base …
Robert E. Lee and His Horse TravellerRarely have horse and rider gone so well together as Traveller and Robert E. Lee.
Rufus Pettit: American Civil War Union Prison InspectorUnion prison inspector Rufus Pettit had ways of making people talk--even innocent people.
Battle of Gaines’ Mill: U.S. Army Regulars to the RescueAs Robert E. Lee hammered Federal forces at Gaines' Mill, Brig. Gen. George Sykes proud division of Regulars held its post of honor on the Union right. The 'Old Army was showing its mettle to the new.
America’s Civil War: Major General John Pope’s Narrow Escape at Clark’s MountainWhile Robert E. Lee's entire army massed behind Clark's Mountain to attack the Union Army of Virginia, a daring Yankee spy swam the Rapidan River to warn Maj. Gen. John Pope of the imminent danger. It was, said one military historian, 'the timeliest single product of espionage' in the entire war.
44th Georgia Regiment Volunteers in the American Civil WarThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.
Brigadier General Silas Casey at the Battle of Seven PinesBrigadier General Silas Casey's rookie division bore the brunt of furious Rebel assaults at the Battle of Seven Pines.
J.E.B. Stuart’s RevengeA stolen hat and wounded pride spurred Southern cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart into action. His vengeance would be swift, daring, and--unexpectedly--funny.
Union General Judson KilpatrickUnion General Judson Kilpatrick was flamboyant, reckless, tempestuous, and even licentious. In some respects he made other beaux sabreurs like fellow-cavalrymen George Custer and J. E. B. Stuart seem dull.
Confederate General Samuel GarlandWhen Samuel Garland fell at South Mountain, the Confederacy lost a promising general and a proven leader.
Battle of Ball’s BluffConfederate soldiers drove inexperienced Union troops acting on faulty intelligence into the Potomac River like lemmings.
Brigadier General Thomas F. MeagherBrigadier General Thomas F. Meagher, the colorful leader of the Irish Brigade, fought many battles--not all of them with the enemy.
37th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in the American Civil WarThe service of the 37th North Carolina epitomized the grit and determination of Tar Heel fighters.
America’s Civil War: George Custer and Stephen RamseurGeorge Custer and Dodson Ramseur had a friendship that survived the Civil War -- until the Battle of Cedar Creek.
The Irish Brigade Fought in America’s Civil WarTheir casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.
More Seven Days Battle Articles
America’s Civil War: Rebel’s Stand at Drewry’s BluffWhile Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac slowly advanced on Richmond in May 1862, the Union Navy made its own play to seize the Confederate capital.
America’s Civil War: The South’s Feuding GeneralsIt sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South's demise.
South’s Feuding Generals – November ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureSouth's Feuding Generals By Richard Selcer It sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South’s demise. Imagine a situation in the modern American army where officers refuse to fight under other officers, where generals openly defy …
“Never Were Men So Brave” – December 1998 Civil War Times FeatureNever Were Men So Brave Their casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade. BY JOHN F. McCORMACK, JR. Out Hanover Street in Fredericksburg they marched that December morning in 1862, sprigs of green in their caps, a …
DISASTER AT DOVE CREEK – Cover Page: February 1997 Civil War Times FeatureDISASTERAT DOVECREEK BY PHILLIP RUTHERFORD Captain N.W. Gillitine and twenty-three militiamen of the Texas 2d Military District stared into the grave they had just opened. On the bottom lay a two-year-old Indian girl, dead not 48 hours. To Gillitine, she was less a dead child than the final proof he needed for an alarming report …
The 44th Georgia Suffered Some of the Heaviest Losses – March ’96 America’s Civil War FeatureThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.By Gerald J. Smith On March 10, 1862, companies of Georgians from Henry, Jasper, Clarke, Spalding, Clayton, Putnam, Fayette, Pike, Morgan, Henry and Greene counties all assembled at Camp Stephens, outside Griffin. Responding to Governor Joseph Brown’s mandate to …
Rebel Stand at Drewry’s Bluff – November ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureRebel Stand at Drewry's Bluff By Jon Guttman While Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac slowly advanced on Richmond in May 1862, the Union Navy made its own play to seize the Confederate capital. In mid-May 1862–little more than a year after South Carolina secessionists had fired the opening rounds of …
Eyewitness- March ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureEyewitness to War A letter from a young Michigan cavalryman gives a vivid–if ungrammatical–account of Gettysburg and its aftermath. Submitted by Nancy Ronemus Ed. note: In order to give the full, authentic flavor of Rice’s letter, editing has been kept to a minimum. Punctuation and paragraph breaks have been added to make the letter easier …
Ewell Seizes the Day at Winchester – Mar. ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureEwell Seizes the Day atWINCHESTERBy Dean M. Wells One month after Stonewall Jackson’s death at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee turned to Stonewall’s trusted lieutenant, Richard Ewell, to cover his invasion of the North. Was ‘Old Bald Head’ up to the challenge? June 14, 1863, was a hot, cloudy day in northern Virginia. A light breeze …