Battle of Malvern Hill
Location: Henrico County, VA
(near Glendale, VA)
Dates: July 1, 1862
George B. McClellan, Major General
Robert E. Lee, General
George B. McClellan had pushed his Army of the Potomac, up the James
River peninsula, in what became know as the Peninsula Campaign. It was
a huge operation, delivering 100,000+ troops from Alexandria to Fortress
Monroe. McClellan led his army up the peninsula to the "Gates of
Richmond" - where soldiers could see the steeples in the city. At
Joseph E. Johnston, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia
was seriously wounded and
Robert E. Lee replaced him.
Starting on June 25,
Lee had organized his plans, he attacked the Army of the Potomac.
This began the Seven Days battle, which would push the Army of the Potomac
into full retreat, with successive losses at Oak Grove, Beaver Dam Creek,
Gaines's Mill and Savage's Station.
McClellan held Lee at Glendale
(White Oak Swamp), giving his army time to prepare a defense at Malvern
The Union position at Malvern Hill was very superior. While
Malvern Hill is more of a long ridge, than a hill, it is protected by creeks
on two sides, making a flanking move nearly impossible. With 100+
Union cannon, from
Fitz John Porter's V Corps and
Samuel Heitzelman's III
Corps covering the approaches to Malvern Hill, the federal troops prepared
to fight. Additionally, there were some 80,000 infantry troops dug in
along the approaches to Malvern Hill.
Robert Lee, in consulting with
Longstreet determined to place 140 cannon along the two flanks of the Army
of Northern Virginia - split evenly on the left, under
Jackson, and on the right, under his 1st Corps. These two positions
would rake the Union line, taking out their cannon and allowing for an
infantry assault at the Union center.
As things worked out, delays in
bringing up troops, and cannon caused the Confederate plan to go astray.
First, six batteries of Major General
John Magruder turned the wrong way,
causing a shortage of guns. Then, poor communication of the infantry
troops under Brigadier General
Lewis Armistead, Magruder, Major General
Benjamin Huger and Major General
Daniel H. Hill, caused the infantry to be
sent in piece meal, instead of as a coordinated infantry assault.
These troops were caught in a terrific musket crossfire and were force to
drop down. All along the line, it was the same. The closest the
rebels got, was on the far right, where troops under Brigadier General
Robert Ransom, reached within 20 yards of the Union line, before being
forced down. By the time Magruder's troops arrived, darkness was
falling and they were not sent in.
After the battle,
Daniel H. Hill
stated, "It was not war, it was murder."
Campaign: Seven Days
Outcome: U.S. Victory
Union: 3,000 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
Confederate: 5,355 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
Robert E. Lee performed masterfully, in pushing the Army of
the Potomac from Richmond, Malvern Hill was a big disappointment.
Stating, "Under normal circumstances, the Federal Army should have been
destroyed.", :Lee's deep disappointment showed through. The Union army
deserves much of the credit, particularly
Fitz John Porter, for scouting out
such a easy position to defend. Lee's inability to pin the Union army
to the James River, allowed the Federal troops to withdraw troops to
Harrison Landing with a minimum covering force at Malvern Hill.