Revisiting fighting of 1862 at Richmond

Civil War re-enactors tackle closing days of Peninsula Campaign

June 16, 2002|By Andrew D. Faith | Andrew D. Faith,SUN STAFF

Civil War buffs will observe the 140th Anniversary of the Seven Days' Battles with re-enactments of the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill during the weekend on June 28-30 at Dundonald Farm in western Hanover County, just north of Richmond, Va.

To get to the re-enactment, take Interstate 64, exit 173 (Rockville/Manakin) near Richmond. Go south on Ashland Road (Route 623) for about a half-mile, then right onto Rockville Road (Route 622); go about 4 miles to the stop sign in Rockville, straight through the intersection, where the road changes its name to Walnut Hill Drive. From this point follow signs for parking and the entrance into the re-enactment.

The re-enactment will feature the battles of Mechanicsville, which was called the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek or Ellerson's Mill by the Confederates, at 11:30 a.m. June 29; Gaines' Mill, also called First Cold Harbor or Chickahominy, at 3 p.m. June 29; and Malvern Hill, also called Crew's Farm or Poindexter's Farm, at 2 p.m. June 30.

On June 27, the re-enactment committee is offering a horseback tour along the route of Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's "Ride Around McClellan," which, strictly speaking, is not part of the Seven Days' Battles, having taken place several days earlier during Gen. Robert E. Lee's preparations for the Seven Days' Battles.

Admission for one day is $12 for adults and $6 for children; a weekend pass is $35 for adults and $15 for children.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Virginia III Foundation and the Hanover Humane Society. The event is sponsored Knibb's Battery, Richmond Discoveries and the Ashland & Hanover Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Hanover Civil War Heritage Committee is the event's host.

The Seven Days' Battles were the climax of Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign of 1862. McClellan began his advance up the peninsula between the James and York rivers from the vicinity of Yorktown on April 4, 1862. By June 25 his army was near Seven Pines, about 5 miles from Richmond, the Confederate capital.

During the early fighting, the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was seriously wounded, and Lee replaced him as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Lee emerged as the South's leading general after he launched a counterattack against the vulnerable northern flank of the Union army and succeeded in driving McClellan away from the capital during the Seven Days' Battles. McClellan's career, in contrast, foundered.

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