The Peninsula Why are Seven Days considered a single battle, but Wilderness/Spotsylvania are separate?


Jan 24, 2011
I was just reading about the Overland Campaign and something came to mind. According to the coordinates on wikipedia, the two bloodiest engagements in the Seven Days (Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill) took place about 12 miles apart. The Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House occurred about 11 miles apart and within 1 day of each other. So why are Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill grouped together into the Seven Days, but the Wilderness and Spotsylvania are each their own?

Miles Krisman

Feb 15, 2012
It is my understanding that the battles before Richmond in 1862 are treated as individual battles. The group of battles are referred to as The Seven Days Battles (pluralized), not the Seven Days Battle (singular).


Sep 3, 2009
South Carolina
I think some authors use loose terms(including myself), assuming all will understand.

The Peninsula Campaign included many battles and skirmishes stretched out over a period of time as McClellan moved up the Peninsula. The major battles were often a month or more apart so "Seven Days" is used to describe a series of battles within the Peninsula Campaign just as Seven Pines describes another series of battles in that campaign.

Grant's Overland Campaign was nearly continuous fighting without much time or land area between battles.

Greg Taylor

Sergeant Major
Apr 29, 2011
Los Angeles
The battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania were far bigger than any individual Seven Days battle. Spotsylvania was the 4th. costliest battle of the War with over 27,000 casualties and the Wilderness the 6th. with over 25,000 casualties. Not that the Seven days battles were insignificant, obviously they were important, with over 36,000 casualties but not as monumental as the major battles of the Overland Campaign. Of course, had the Peninsula Campaign been successful there would probably have been no Overland Campaign and Little Mac, not U.S. Grant would have been the great hero of the Civil War.


2nd Lieutenant
Nov 9, 2010
Chesapeake, VA
I tend to think of the Seven Days Battles as a sub-campaign of the overall Peninsula Campaign. The fights, although compressed in time and space, are different enough to be treated as separate battles but are all part of one effort. Likewise, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania are two separate (and major) battles under the Overland Campaign umbrella.