June 30th, 2012: Views into the Civil War

Posted on: 06/29/2012

The Seven Days, being the heaviest sustained combat thus far in the east was big news, and newspapers in both the north and south wanted all they could get on the action.  Thusly, we have many images of what the fighting 150 years ago today would have looked like.  Today and tomorrow we will look at eyewitness images of the climax of the Seven Days Battles of Glendale and Malvern Hill.

Glendale was the last stand of the Union Army before falling back to the formidable positions on Malvern Hill overlooking the James River.  McClellan’s army suffered from disorganization and came near disaster as Confederate threw themselves into fierce frontal assaults.  Poor coordination prevented the Confederates from concentrating enough force for the finishing blow, however, and the Army of the Potomac was allowed to continue its semi-orderly retreat.

This sketch is captioned “Slocum's Artillery engaged with the enemy on the Charles City Road. (Seven days fighting) The 16th N.Y. Regt as supports.”  This would have been a common sight during the Civil War.  Artillery lining the top of a ridge with the limbers and caissons concealed on the back slope, along with supporting infantry to be on hand should the enemy get too close.

This sketch was not made at Glendale, but along the Union right flank on June 30th, 1862.  Concurrent with the attacks of James Longstreet and A.P. Hill that attacked from the west, Stonewall Jackson’s Division came down from the north on a Union line shielded by White Oak Swamp.  Here the Union artillery of William F. “Baldy” Smith’s division is seen firing across the swamp, with Confederate shells coming in in reply.

Moving back to the Union center, the division of Phil Kearny held on against determined Confederate attacks.  The Union soldiers in this view are in a forest of shattered tree splintered by bullets and canon shells.

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