- Feb 5, 2017
On June 25, 1862, George McClellan had 105,000+ men within just as few miles of Richmond. Robert E. Lee took over the Confederate Army from the injured Joe Johnson on June 1, and devised a plan to …
I didn't know about this, so I found this fascinating.
Lee’s plan to unravel immediately. Huger never attacked the crossroads. Instead, he engaged in an artillery duel with Union General Slocum’s guns. Theophilus Holmes failed to hurry. The Federals seized Malvern Hill, placed troops across the river road, and brought up gunboats to shell the Confederates. Lee road down to the river to find out what was holding up progress and ordered Magruder’s 12,000 men to come down to the river to reinforce Holmes.
From the Confederate point of view, the strangest and most tragic failure was Jackson’s. His men did nothing of significance that day, never crossing the swamp. A number of reasons have been offered to explain Jackson’s surprising lack of aggressiveness, and possibly the closest is his evident exhaustion.
That left only Longstreet and A. P. Hill to attack. They had 19,000 men, and didn’t realize that the others had basically done nothing. Longstreet ordered three of his brigades, joined by L. O’B. Branch’s brigade from Hill’s division, forward. The remainder of Hill’s division would be held in reserve. It is often said that you have to visit a battlefield to truly understand it… nowhere is that more true than Glendale. A good deal of the area was heavily wooded, along with vines and abundant undergrowth. A swamp was to Longstreet’s right. The ground consisted of low rolling ridges. It would be difficult to see other units in action, and almost as challenging to hear them. Longstreet’s assault was delivered piecemeal. Because other Confederate divisions had not attacked, Federal commanders pulled troops from unthreatened areas, and they arrived just in time to stop repeated Southern blows. Hill’s men were sent in near dark, but they could not take the crossroads. Magruder’s 12,000 had been sent to the river and were not available at the real point of attack, where they were sorely needed.
Many things led to this spectacular failure, among them the newness of the army, Lee’s unfamiliarity with his commanders, poor maps, and a staff that was too small and used ineffectively. In fairness, it must be remembered that Lee took this army over at the beginning of the month. He had driven the Federal army from the capital, but it did escape, and the tragic battle at Malvern Hill would follow the next day.