The Battle of Fair Oaks: Turning Point of McClellan's Peninsula Campaign
In the spring of 1862, Union Major General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac launched a bloody offensive up the Virginia Peninsula in an effort to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. This study chronicles the pivotal but often overlooked turning point of the Peninsula Campaign--the Battle of Fair Oaks, also known as Seven Pines. At Fair Oaks, Confederate troops succeeded in driving back Union forces from the edge of Richmond before the Union troops stabilized their position. Though both sides claimed victory, the battle marked the end of the Union offensive. Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Winfield Scott Hancock all rose to national prominence for their roles at Fair Oaks, while McClellan saw his reputation ruined. In the end, the legacy of Fair Oaks is one of missed chances and faulty execution, ensuring the war would continue for nearly three more years.
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A.P. Hill advance Alabama Infantry Army War College assault attack Bridge Brigade captured Casey Casey’s casualties Cavalry Chickahominy Colonel command Confederate army D.H. Hill Davis defenses DIVISION First Brigade enemy Fair Oaks Federal field fighting fire force Fort Magruder forward front Georgia Infantry guns Heintzelman Hill’s Hooker Howard Huger Infantry Artillery Infantry Third Brigade Jackson Johnston Keyes killed Lee’s Light Artillery Battery Lincoln Longstreet Magruder Magruder’s Manassas McClellan McDowell Military History Institute missing movement North Carolina North Carolina Infantry officer ordered Peninsula Campaign Pennsylvania Infantry Pickett Porter position Potomac President railroad rear Rebel regiments reinforcements reported retreat Richmond right flank Second Brigade sent Seven Days Battles Seven Pines Smith soldiers South Stanton Sumner troops Union army Union line United States Army United States Light victory Virginia Battery Virginia Infantry Washington William Williamsburg Williamsburg Road wounded York Infantry York Light Artillery Yorktown