In June 1862, Union soldiers could spot the steeples of Richmond off to the distance. About 10 miles away from the capitol of the Confederacy, George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was within striking distance of ending the year old Civil War. With nowhere to go, Joseph Johnston’s army struck out at the Union army at the Battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines, which didn’t dislodge the Northerners but did result in Johnston’s wounding.
Johnston was replaced by none other than Robert E. Lee, who aggressively took command and in a series of a week fought the Army of the Potomac back up the Virginian peninsula away from Richmond. The battles, which included the Battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines’s Mill, Savage Station and Malvern Hill, became known as the Seven Days Battles. As McClellan withdrew his army, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia struck north, eventually defeating John Pope’s Army of Virginia at Second Manassas and subsequently invading Maryland. The tide of the war had changed, and it promised to last several more years.
Before all of the generals relived the Seven Days Battles in their memoirs, they wrote official accounts of the Seven Days battles and the Peninsula Campaign to their superiors, and these accounts were preserved in the Official Records. This collection includes accounts of the battles from prominent Union generals, including Commander George B. McClellan, Joseph Hooker and John Sedgwick.