Objectives Learn why General McClellan had success and ultimately failure during The Peninsula Campaign.
After Bull Run Five days after the battle of Bull Run, George B. McClellan was placed in charge of the Union Army. He renamed it the “Army of the Potomac”. He organized it, trained it, but refused to lead it into battle.
Lincoln’s Frustration Summer dragged into the fall and it became too late in the year to begin a campaign against the confederates. Lincoln showed his frustration by remarking that McClellan had “the slows”. He also posed, “If the general is not going to use the army, then I would like to borrow it”. Lincoln order forces to be on the move by February 22, 1862.
The Peninsula McLellan decided he would sail to Fortress Monroe on “The Peninsula” between the York and James rivers. The spot where the Brutish surrendered in 1781. He set sail from Alexandria Virginia March 17 and it took three weeks to transport 121,000 troops, horses, wagons, cannon, and supplies.
Advance to Richmond Slowly, McClellan’s army began advancing toward Richmond.
John B. Magruder Frustrating McClellan’s advance was John Bankhead Magruder. Marching about 500 men in a gigantic circle in and out of a clearing, he tricked McClellan into thinking he had more troops than he actually had.
Quaker Guns Felled trees that mounted and painted from a distance looked like real cannon.
Virginia Creeper McClellan advanced so slowly and cautiously he was given the nickname, “The Virginia Creeper”.
Richmond McClellan advances to within eight miles of Richmond. The Union Army is so close the church bells in town can be heard.
Fair Oaks/Seven Pines At the Battle of Fair Oaks, sometimes called Seven Pines, Confederate commanding General Joseph E. Johnston is severely wounded.
Robert E. Lee For the first time in the war, Robert E. Lee is given a field command. His strategy is simple: Richmond must not fall.
The Seven Days Knowing that McClellan’s forces are isolated by overflowing rivers, Lee launches a series of attacks: Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Savages Station, Frayser’s Farm, and Malvern Hill.
Results The Confederates will lose all but one of the battles. But McClellan fears Lee has a huge army and retreats back down The Peninsula. He tells Lincoln he had not lost, he had just not won.
John Pope McClellan is relieved of command. He is replaced by John Pope. Lincoln was warned by aides not to trust Pope. He replied, “Everyone back home knows the Pope’s are liars. But that is reason why he cannot be a good general.”