1862 Seven Days' Battles
(left panel)Visiting Richmond National Battlefield Park
The concentration of Civil War resources found in the Richmond area is unparalleled. The National Park Service manages 13 sites, giving visitors an opportunity to examine the battlefield landscapes, to hear the stories of the combatants and civilian residents, and to understand the complex reasons why Richmond came to symbolize the heart and soul of the Confederacy.
RegulationsThis is a partial list of park regulations. Site is open sunrise to sunset. Report suspicious activities to any park employee or call 804-795-5018. In emergencies call 911.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is illegal.
Hunting, trapping, feeding, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Weapons are prohibited inside all park buildings.
Pets must be on a leash.
Recreation activities like kite-flying, ball-playing, and frisbee throwing are prohibited.
Motor vehicles and bicycles must remain on established roads.
(center panel)1862 Seven Days' Battles
No military campaign had more influence on the course of the Civil War than these Seven Days' battles. George B. McClellan's army of more than 100,000 Union soldiers landed at Fort Monroe in spring of 1862, and fought its way up the peninsula. By mid-May the Army of the Potomac lay on the outskirts of Richmond, hoping to capture the capital of the Confederacy and perhaps end the war. If that strategy succeeded the nation might be reunified, but without abolition of slavery. Confederate General Robert E. Lee chose not to wait for the Federal army's next move. Instead he seized the initiative, and on June 26 advanced across the Chickahominy River with nearly 45,000 soldiers. That action opened a week-long series of battles that resulted in the Union army retreating to the banks of the James River. With Richmond secure, Lee's army moved north, defeated Union forces at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas (Bull Run), and then marched toward Maryland and the first invasion of the North.
Lee massed much of his own Confederate army at Chickahominy Bluff and surged over the river in a combined operation with Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Beaver Dam Creek
Later that afternoon Lee's men struck a well positioned piece of the Federal army at Beaver Dam Creek. His attack failed, but Jackson's presence above the creek forced McClellan's men away overnight.
McClellan decided to move to a new base on the James River, but his rearguard at Gaines' Mill barely escaped destruction when Lee's Confederates launched an all-out attack, triggering the second and largest battle of the Seven Days.
McClellan organized his retreat and achieved a head start in what would become a race to the James River. Meanwhile, Lee shifted from protecting Richmond to pursuing and defeating the Union army. A Confederate probe at Gouldin's Farm, south of the Chickahominy River, produced a small battle.
Lee pushed his men forward against the Union army's rear at Savage's Station, on the Richmond & York River Railroad. The inconclusive battle there produced 1,400 casualties and temporarily slowed the progress of McClellan's retreat.
Confederate columns pursued the Union army. A vicious battle at Glendale (or Frayser's Farm) gave Lee his best opportunity of the campaign, but the determined resistance of McClellan's subordinates kept the line of retreat open.
McClellan's army took up a strong defensive position atop Malvern Hill. Poorly coordinated Confederate attacks resulted in a decisive Union victory.
The Confederates pursued the Northern army to its new base at Harrison's Landing. Lee determined no offensive opportunities remained, and ended his campaign to drive foe away from Richmond, concluding the Seven Days' battles.
(right panel)Malvern Hill Trail
This one-and-a-half mile trail reveals one of the best preserved battlefields in the nation. More than a dozen signs describe the landscape, the progress of the battle, and its various landmarks. Parking lots at the crest of Malvern Hill and at the Parsonage ruins provide access points.
If you begin at the Parsonage, you will walk the disastrous Confederate assault in the footsteps of the participants before reaching the Union line and circling back past the West House. If you start your walk at the crest of the hill, among the now-silent Federal cannon, you will experience the strength of the position before walking the route of the Confederate attacks.