General George McClellan after gaining command of the Army of the Potomac and whipping it into shape began his Peninsula Campaign in March of 1862. This campaign took the Union army under McClellan’s command down the Chesapeake Bay and up the James River. The idea was to then march on Richmond, VA the Confederate capital.
Perhaps McClellan’s greatest obstacle in the success of this campaign was his own plodding, methodical military tactics. Lincoln once commented that McClellan “has a case of the slows.” Always complaining about the need for more men, more supplies and the size of the Confederate army he faced, McClellan was a great organizational commander but not much for field command.
The Seven Days’ Battles were a series of encounters between late June and early July of 1862. These battles occurred Northeast and East of Richmond. Richmond was being defended by Robert E. Lee, the new commander of the army of Northern Virginia. Unlike McClellan, Lee was very quick to push his will on the battlefield despite inferior numbers and resources. Lee capitalized on McClellan’s indecisiveness. These battles took place at Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines’ Mill, Savage’s Station, , Fair Oaks, White Oak Swamp, Glendale and Malvern Hill.
After the Union stand at Malvern Hill McClellan pulled his forces back to his home base at Harrison’s Landing along the James River. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862 did not achieve its objective, namely, capturing Richmond.
Two years later, Grant will return to Richmond with his Overland Campaign in 1864. Grant’s relentless pursuit of Lee and his Confederate army will eventually prove far more successful with the fall of Petersburg in April 1865. Richmond would soon thereafter be evacuated and the war will come to a close at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.