Civil War Trust, Virginia team up for $3.2 million Gaines’ Mill preservation

CMWinkler

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#1
Civil War Trust, Virginia team up for $3.2 million Gaines’ Mill preservation



By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, November 19, 5:26 AM
RICHMOND, Va. — The Civil War Trust has teamed up with the state to complete a $3.2 million campaign protecting 285 acres at Gaines’ Mill, where Gen. Robert E. Lee had his first major victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The preservation greatly expands the number of protected acres at Gaines’ Mill, the bloodiest chapter in the Seven Days’ Battles, making it a “monumental achievement” in the trust’s history, president James Lighthizer said.


“Prior to this, only 65 acres of this crucial battlefield had been protected,” he said in a statement prepared for the formal announcement. “With just one purchase, we have more than quintupled the amount of land at Gaines’ Mill preserved forever.”
The entire 285 acres are within the boundary of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, so the trust will turn over the property to the National Park Service for long-term stewardship and interpretation for visitors.
The preservation was completed with a $1.5 million transportation enhancement matching grant from the state. The property’s historic significance and the looming prospect of development made it an ideal candidate for the funding, said Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia’s secretary of transportation.
“The commonwealth of Virginia is committed to making the permanent protection of historic and scenic landscapes like this one an important part of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War,” Connaughton said in a statement.
Gaines’ Mill is full of history — from Lee’s powerful assault against Union lines just outside the capital of the Confederacy to the use of observation balloons by both sides, a first.
The battle was fought on June 27, 1862, and was the second of the Seven Days’ Battles in which the Confederates sought to blunt federal forces that moved up the Virginia Peninsula with their sights set on Richmond.
Historians believe Lee unleashed upwards of 32,000 men in 16 brigades, far overshadowing the 12,500-man Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The 15,500 casualties made it the second bloodiest battle of the war to that point, topped only by Shiloh, Tenn., 2½ months earlier.
In its 1993 study, the Civil War sites Advisory Commission rated Gaines’ Mill a Priority I, Class A designation. That made it one of the 11 top candidates for preservation in the U.S.
A group of prominent Richmond residents purchased 60 acres of the battlefield nearly a century ago. The land was donated to the state and ultimately the National Park Service. The trust’s campaign to raise $3.2 million for the 285 acres was launched in 2011.
“The inclusion of this truly historical land will be a tremendous boon the park,” Superintendent Dave Ruth said. “For the first time, visitors will be able to retrace the dramatic Confederate Charge of June 27, 1862 — by many accounts, Robert E. Lee’s largest assault of the war.”
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the nation. It has preserved more than 34,000 acres of battlefield in 20 states, more than half of that in Virginia.
___
Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sszkotakap .
___
Online:
Civil War Trust: www.civil.org

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local...48e2f2-323a-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html
 

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ExNavyPilot

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I'm very happy that the commonwealth of Virginia contributed to the preservation of Gaines Mill. I believe the majority of the land purchased was that over which Longstreet's men attacked (i.e. the eastern portion of the field.)
 

CMWinkler

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A special place.

Here's the history of the 4th Texas Infantry at Gaines' Mill. By the way, my namesake received his first wound there.

At dawn on June 27, Jackson resumed his southward march toward Cold Harbor and Gaines' Mill on Powhite Creek, which flowed southward to the Chickahominy about nine miles northeast of Richmond. Once again, the men could hear the sounds of battle coming from the south. (Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter's three Federal divisions had abandoned their line at Mechanicsville for a stronger one along a series of hills on the east bank of Boatswain's Swamp, located a mile east of Powhite Creek. Confederate generals James Longstreet and A. P. Hill were initiating a series of unsuccessful attacks on Porter's well entrenched corps.) Jackson sent Richard Ewell's Division to the left and directly south. Whiting was sent southwest with Jackson's other divisions. In the afternoon, Whiting received orders to support Longstreet who was preparing to attack Porter's left flank. Hood's Brigade led the way. At 5 pm, Hood's skirmishers emerged into the clear area where the battle was raging.
Whiting's Division entered the arena opposite Turkey Hill, a steep wooded hill which was located across Boatswain's Swamp at the place where the creek turned sharply eastward from its southerly flow into the Chickahominy. Turkey Hill was the highest point of Porter's line. It was defended by a line of abatis and Hiram Berdan's First U.S. Sharpshooters at its base, then by three brigades under Gen. George Morell entrenched in two lines (one halfway up the hill, the other near the top), and finally by eighteen guns of Capt. William Weeden's artillery on the crest. A battalion of regular cavalry under Gen. Philip St. George Cooke stood between Porter's left and the Chickahominy. The Confederate approach to Boatswain's Swamp and Turkey Hill was both downwardly sloped and exposed.
Desperate for a last-chance breakthrough of Porter's line, Lee ordered Whiting to perform a direct assault against Turkey Hill. Whiting deployed his division in a line with Law's Brigade to the right of Hood's. The Texas Brigade was arranged with Hampton's Legion on the left, the Eighteenth Georgia on the right, and the First and Fifth Texas in the center. The Fourth Texas was placed in reserve. Lee and Whiting rode over to Hood, and Lee asked if Hood could break the line. ``I shall try,'' responded Hood.
Hood reconnoitered the scene ahead from an open field to the right of the Eighteenth Georgia. Between his men and the enemy lay 800 yards of exposed, rolling field broken only by one thin strip of woods on the near bank of Boatswain's Swamp. Strewn across the field were the dead, dying, and wounded from Longstreet's previous unsuccessful assaults. Hood's men would be vulnerable to the same artillery fire from Turkey Hill that had thwarted these earlier attacks. With the Confederate artillery already knocked out by Union counterbattery fire, Hood's men could not count on a covering fire during their approach. Hood noted that a better avenue of approach lay to the right of Law's present position. He also recognized that the previous assaults had failed partly because the Confederates had stopped short of crossing the creek to return the enemy's fire. This action, Hood reasoned, had broken the momentum of the charge and made the reloading Confederates easy targets.
Hood dismounted his horse and told the men not to fire upon the enemy until so instructed. He then ordered the brigade forward with ``quick step and determined spirit.'' Immediately noticing a gap between Law and Brig. Gen. George Pickett's men to Law's right, Hood turned to the Fourth Texas -- still standing in reserve -- and ordered Col. Marshall to direct his men by the right flank and follow him. Along with one or two companies of the Eighteenth Georgia, the Fourth Texas marched across the rear of Law's Brigade. Once clear of Law, Hood fronted the troops, dressed the line, and again ordered that no man should fire until he gave the order. Hood then ordered the troops forward, personally leading the advance.
As the Fourth Texas emerged into the clearing, it immediately came under a storm of artillery fire. Col. Marshall, the only officer who refused to dismount his horse, was killed almost immediately. Command of the Fourth passed to Lt. Col. Bradfute Warwick, but Hood continued to exercise the leadership of his old regiment. As the Texans advanced, frontal fire from Turkey Hill and enfilading fire from across the Chickahominy tore gaping holes in their ranks. Hood exhorted his men to be steady and hold their fire. As the men advanced to within 300 yards of the creek, musketry from Berdan's Sharpshooters and Morell's infantry began to take a heavy toll. The ever-thinning battle line then reached a low hill 150 yards from the creek where it passed over a line of Confederates hugging the ground and ignoring their young lieutenant's pleas to advance. Lt. Col. Warwick seized the group's battle flag and exhorted them forward, but the terrified men would not budge. Warwick pressed onward, still carrying the flag. The lieutenant, disgusted with his own men, seized a gun and joined the Fourth Texas, only to be killed a few minutes later.
As the Fourth Texas crested the low hill, Warwick ordered his men to halt and fire. Hood immediately overruled him and ordered the men to fix bayonets and charge at the double quick. As the Fourth Texas closed within 100 yards of the creek, the enemy's fire slackened as the line of sharpshooters began to give way and retreat to the entrenchments up Turkey Hill. With ranks still fairly well aligned, the Fourth Texas splashed across the steeply banked but narrow creek, sending the remaining sharpshooters rearward. Soon the Texans closed in on the first line of entrenchments occupied by J. H. Martindale's Brigade. The panicked Federals quickly abandoned their works and fled up the hill. No longer waiting for Hood's order, the Texans opened fire on the fleeing Federals with great effect. The routed Federals soon overran the second line of entrenched infantry, which was unable to fire without hitting its own men. The second line promptly became infected by the growing panic, and the rout became general. The retreating Federals managed only a few scattered volleys into the ranks of the oncoming Texans. One bullet pierced the lungs of Lt. Col. Warwick, who fell mortally wounded with the battle flag still in hand.
As the Fourth Texas and elements of the Eighteenth Georgia reached the top of Turkey Hill, Hood sent word for the other regiments to hasten their advance and exploit the breach. Soon the First and Fifth Texas and Hampton's Legion appeared on the plateau above Turkey Hill. Porter's left flank began to crumble quickly as Law's and Pickett's Brigades widened the breakthrough. Hood halted the Fourth Texas in an orchard on the hilltop, where they were immediately greeted by canister from Weeden's artillery posted on their left. Facing them toward the guns, Hood ordered the men forward. Supported by the Eighteenth Georgia, the Fourth Texas charged the guns and captured fourteen of the eighteen pieces.
The Texans and Georgians then continued after the fleeing Federal infantry. As the Fifth Texas advanced across the plateau toward the Chickahominy, it was fired on from the rear. Turning about to contront the attack, the Fifth Texas faced the entire Fourth New Jersey Infantry, which had been bypassed during the breakthrough. Seeing that resistance was useless, the surrounded New Jerseyites lowered their flag in surrender. Meanwhile, the Fourth Texas heard the rumbling of Cooke's Fifth U.S. Cavalry charging toward them in an attempt to prevent the capture of more Federal artillery. Once again, Hood wheeled his men about to face the threat. When the cavalry was within forty yards, the Fourth Texas and Eighteenth Georgia leveled their Enfields and fired a devastating volley that unseated nearly 150 of the 250 horsemen. Pvts. Pat Penn and Haywood Brahan of Co. F, Fourth Texas, dismounted two of the horsemen with their bayonets. Brahan was unable to hold onto his gun, which was carried away until its impaled victim finally fell from the saddle. Cooke's assault was the last aggressive action by the Federals of the day.
That night the Texas Brigade ministered to its wounded and slept on the battlefield. As the Fourth Texas formed for roll call the next morning, Hood rode up to his old command. ``Is this the 4th Texas?'', he asked. ``This is all that remains,'' was the reply. Hood turned his horse in a vain attempt to hide his tears. Of all Hood's regiments, the Fourth Texas had suffered the most at Gaines' Mill. Their casualties numbered 44 killed, 208 wounded, and 1 missing. Half of all the enlisted men and all the field-grade officers were casualties. Col. Marshall and Lt. Col. Warwick were killed, Major J. C. G. Key was wounded, and ten captains and lieutenants were killed or mortally wounded. (Nine more were wounded.) Companies C, D, F, and H lost over 60% of their men. The mascot of Company B (the Tom Green Rifles), a white terrier named Candy, was found lying in the arms of Pvt. John S. Summers, who had been killed atop Turkey Hill. Amazingly, Hood -- who led the Fourth through the entire charge -- emerged unscathed. His brigade did not. The total loss for the Texas Brigade was 571 -- 86 killed, 481 wounded, and four missing.
The men of the Fourth Texas had spearheaded the final assault that broke the Union lines and gave Gen. Lee his first victory. Their valor at great cost earned for them high praises throughout the army, as well as the sobriquet ``The Hell-Roarin' Fourth''. As Gen. Jackson inspected the Federal position on Turkey Hill, he remarked, ``The men that carried this position were soldiers indeed.'' No higher compliment could have been received.

http://www.pha.jhu.edu/~dag/4thtex/history/history.html
 
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#4
The entire 285 acres are within the boundary of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, so the trust will turn over the property to the National Park Service for long-term stewardship and interpretation for visitors.

Is there a map available of the acreage purchased?

Gaines’ Mill is full of history — from Lee’s powerful assault against Union lines just outside the capital of the Confederacy to the use of observation balloons by both sides, a first.
The battle was fought on June 27, 1862, and was the second of the Seven Days’ Battles in which the Confederates sought to blunt federal forces that moved up the Virginia Peninsula with their sights set on Richmond.

Of course.....we all know that Gaines' Mill was the THIRD of the seven days battles. :smile: The Battle of Oak Grove on July 25, 1862, always seems to get forgotten!
 

ExNavyPilot

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#5
The entire 285 acres are within the boundary of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, so the trust will turn over the property to the National Park Service for long-term stewardship and interpretation for visitors.

Is there a map available of the acreage purchased?

Gaines’ Mill is full of history — from Lee’s powerful assault against Union lines just outside the capital of the Confederacy to the use of observation balloons by both sides, a first.
The battle was fought on June 27, 1862, and was the second of the Seven Days’ Battles in which the Confederates sought to blunt federal forces that moved up the Virginia Peninsula with their sights set on Richmond.

Of course.....we all know that Gaines' Mill was the THIRD of the seven days battles. :smile: The Battle of Oak Grove on July 25, 1862, always seems to get forgotten!
The Civil War Trust site shows the parcel of land that they're purchasing as the yellow area. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gainesmill/maps/gainesmillmap.html
 

ExNavyPilot

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#6
Standing at the top of Turkey Hill looking down on Boatswain's Creek, one wonders how any attacking force could have taken that high ground. Hood's tactics, though very costly on the Texas Brigade, were what it took to break Porter's line.
 



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