Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862

Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862

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Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862

Malvern Hill saw the last fighting of the Seven Days’ Battles. By 1 July General McClellan had successfully moved his army to a new base on the James River. Robert E. Lee had successfully forced the Union army away from Richmond. However, he had not managed to inflict a serious defeat on the Union army, and this had been his real aim all along. Lee was always looking to win the decisive battle that would destroy the Army of the Potomac.

The Union rearguard now had a very strong position on Malvern Hill. Their flanks were secure, they were on a slight hill, and any attacker would have to advance across an open field. Four Union divisions and 100 guns were in place, with as many men and more guns in reserve. Lee’s chance of inflicting a victory on the Union army while it was stretched out on the move had gone.

Despite this, Lee still decided to launch an attack on the Union position. Even if the attack had been properly coordinated, the Union position was probably too strong to be taken. In the event, things did not go according to plan. A planned artillery bombardment never really got going. The infantry attacks were badly coordinating, exposing each unit to ferocious artillery fire. Very few Confederate soldiers reached musket range. Lee lost 5,500 men killed and wounded, half of them victims of the Union artillery, a much higher proportion than normal. Union losses were only half that figure.

Malvern Hill finally convinced Lee that there was no point continuing to attack McClellan’s men in their new base. Instead, his attention turned north, towards a second, smaller, Union army that was based near Washington. His campaign against that army was to meet with much more success. It ended at the Second Battle of Bull Run, where Lee finally began to demonstrate his great abilities.

American Civil War: Battle of Malvern Hill

The Battle of Malvern Hill was part of the Seven Days Battles and was fought July 1, 1862, during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Armies & Commanders


Battle of Malvern Hill - Background:

Beginning on June 25, 1862, Major General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac was the subject of repeated assaults by Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee. Falling back from the gates of Richmond, McClellan believed his army to be outnumbered and hastened to retreat to his secure supply base at Harrison's Landing where his army could shelter under the guns of the US Navy in the James River. Fighting an inconclusive action at Glendale (Frayser's Farm) on June 30, he was able to gain some breathing room for his continued withdrawal.

Retreating south, the Army of the Potomac occupied a high, open plateau known as Malvern Hill on July 1. Featuring steep slopes on its southern, eastern, and western sides, the position was further protected by swampy terrain and Western Run to the east. The site had been selected the previous day by Brigadier General Fitz John Porter who commanded the Union V Corps. Riding ahead to Harrison's Landing, McClellan left Porter in command at Malvern Hill. Aware that Confederate forces would have to attack from the north, Porter formed a line facing in that direction (Map).

Battle of Malvern Hill - The Union Position:

Placing Brigadier General George Morell's division from his corps on the far left, Porter placed the IV Corps division of Brigadier General Darius Couch to their right. The Union line was further extended to the right by the III Corps divisions of Brigadier General Philip Kearny and Joseph Hooker. These infantry formations were supported by the army's artillery under Colonel Henry Hunt. Possessing around 250 guns, he was able to emplace between 30 to 35 atop the hill at any given point. The Union line was further supported by US Navy gunboats in the river to the south and additional troops on the hill.

Battle of Malvern Hill - Lee's Plan:

To the north of the Union position, the hill sloped down across open space that extended from 800 yards to a mile until reaching the closest tree line. To assess the Union position, Lee met with several of his commanders. While Major General Daniel H. Hill felt that an attack was ill-advised, such an action was encouraged by Major General James Longstreet. Scouting the area, Lee and Longstreet identified two suitable artillery positions that they believed would bring the hill under crossfire and suppress the Union guns. With this done, an infantry assault could move forward.

Deploying opposite the Union position, Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's command formed the Confederate left, with Hill's division in the center astride the Willis Church and Carter's Mill Roads. Major General John Magruder's division was to form the Confederate right, however it was misled by its guides and was late in arriving. To support this flank, Lee also assigned Major General Benjamin Huger's division to the area as well. The attack was to be led by Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead's brigade from Huger's Division which was assigned to move forward once the guns had weakened the enemy.

Battle of Malvern Hill - A Bloody Debacle:

Having devised the plan for the assault, Lee, who was ill, refrained from directing operations and instead delegated the actual fighting to his subordinates. His plan quickly began to unravel when the Confederate artillery, which was strung out back to Glendale, arrived on the field in piecemeal fashion. This was further compounded by confusing orders that were issued by his headquarters. Those Confederate guns that deployed as planned were met with fierce counter-battery fire from Hunt's artillery. Firing from 1:00 to 2:30 PM, Hunt's men unleashed a massive bombardment that crushed the Confederate artillery.

The situation for the Confederates continued to worsen when Armistead's men advanced prematurely around 3:30 PM. This keyed the larger assault as planned with Magruder sending forward two brigades as well. Pushing up the hill, they were met by a maelstrom of case and canister shot from the Union guns as well as heavy fire from the enemy infantry. To aid this advance, Hill began sending troops forward, though refrained from a general advance. As a result, his several small attacks were easily turned back by the Union forces. As the afternoon pressed on, the Confederates continued their assaults with no success.

Atop the hill, Porter and Hunt had the luxury of being able to rotate units and batteries as ammunition was expended. Later in the day, the Confederates began attacks towards the western side of the hill where the terrain worked to cover part of their approach. Though they advanced farther than the previous efforts, they too were turned back by the Union guns. The greatest threat came when men from Major General Lafayette McLaw's division nearly reached the Union line. Rushing reinforcements to the scene, Porter was able to turn back the attack.

Battle of Malvern Hill - Aftermath:

As the sun began to set, the fighting died out. During the course of the battle, the Confederates sustained 5,355 casualties while Union forces incurred 3,214. On July 2, McClellan ordered the army to continue its retreat and shifted his men to the Berkeley and Westover Plantations near Harrison's Landing. In assessing the fighting at Malvern Hill, Hill famously commented that: "It was not war. It was murder."

Though he followed the withdrawing Union troops, Lee was unable to inflict any additional damage. Ensconced in a strong position and backed by the US Navy's guns, McClellan began a steady stream of requests for reinforcements. Ultimately deciding that the timid Union commander posed little additional threat to Richmond, Lee began dispatching men north to begin what would become the Second Manassas Campaign.

Photo, Print, Drawing Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862 - the Rebels repulsed by the Union artillery

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Military situation Edit

In spring 1862, Union commander Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan developed an ambitious plan to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital, on the Virginia Peninsula. His 121,500-man Army of the Potomac, along with 14,592 animals, 1,224 wagons and ambulances, and 44 artillery batteries, would load onto 389 vessels and sail to the tip of the peninsula at Fort Monroe, then move inland and capture the capital, some 80 miles away. [1] The bold and sweeping landing was executed with few incidents, [2] but the Federals were delayed for about a month in the siege of Yorktown. When McClellan's army finally did attack on May 4, the defensive earthworks around Yorktown were undefended. After some hours, the Army of the Potomac pursued the retreating Confederates. When Union troops encountered the Confederate rearguard at Williamsburg, the two armies fought an inconclusive battle. The Confederates continued their withdrawal that night. [3] To stymie the Southerners' retreat, McClellan sent Brig. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith to Eltham's Landing by boat, resulting in a battle there on May 7. When the Union Army tried to attack Richmond by way of the James River, they were turned back at Drewry's Bluff on May 15. All the while, McClellan continued his pursuit of Confederate forces, who were withdrawing quickly towards Richmond. [4]

The lack of decisive action on the Virginia Peninsula spurred President Abraham Lincoln to order McClellan's army to move into positions close to Richmond. [5] By May 30, McClellan had begun moving troops across the Chickahominy River, the only major natural barrier that separated his army from Richmond. [6] However, heavy rains and thunderstorms on the night of May 30 caused the water level to swell, washing away two bridges and splitting the Federal army in two across the Chickahominy. In the subsequent Battle of Seven Pines, Confederate general-in-chief Joseph E. Johnston sought to capitalize on the bifurcation of McClellan's army, attacking the half of the Union Army that was stuck south of the river. Johnston's plan fell apart, and McClellan lost no ground. Late in the battle, Johnston was hit in the right shoulder by a bullet and in the chest by a shell fragment his command went to Maj. Gen. Gustavus W. Smith. Smith's tenure as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia was short. On June 1, after an unsuccessful attack on Union forces, Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, appointed Robert E. Lee, his own military adviser, to replace Smith as the commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies. [7]

The subsequent two weeks on the peninsula were mostly quiet. On June 25, though, a surprise attack by McClellan began a series of six major battles over the next week near Richmond—the Seven Days Battles. On the first day, as Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia toward the Union lines, McClellan preempted him with an attack at Oak Grove. Lee's men successfully warded off the Union assault, and Lee continued with his plans. The next morning, the Confederates attacked the Army of the Potomac at Mechanicsville. Union forces turned back the Confederate onslaught, inflicting heavy losses. After Mechanicsville, McClellan's army withdrew to a position behind Boatswain's Swamp. There, on June 27, the Union soldiers suffered another Confederate attack, this time at Gaines's Mill. In the resulting battle, the Confederates launched numerous failed charges, until a final concerted attack broke the Union line, resulting in the only clear Confederate victory during the Seven Days. The action at Garnett's and Golding's Farm, fought next, was merely a set of skirmishes. Lee attacked the Union Army at the Battle of Savage's Station on June 29 and the battles of Glendale and White Oak Swamp June 30, but all three battles were inconclusive. After this series of conflicts that inflicted thousands of casualties on both armies, McClellan began to assemble his forces in an imposing natural position atop Malvern Hill. [8]

Geography and location Edit

—Lieutenant Charles B. Haydon of the 2nd Michigan Infantry, personal diary

Malvern Hill, a plateau-like elevation in Henrico County, Virginia, provided an impressive natural military position about two miles (3.2 km) north of the James River. [10] The hill rose some 130 feet (40 m) [9] to its crest to form a crescent about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length and 0.75 miles (1.21 km) [9] wide. Its slope was about one mile (1.6 km) in length and very gradual, with only one or two notable depressions. Along the western side of the hill ran Malvern Cliffs, a bluff-like formation that overlooked Turkey Run, a tributary of nearby Turkey Island Creek. Western Run was another tributary of Turkey Island Creek, which lay mostly along the eastern side of the hill and slanted slightly into the northern side. One depression dipped some sixty feet (18 m) at the valley of Western Run and slanted upwards to the plateau. Malvern Hill's center was slightly lower than the flanks. The gentle, bare slant meant that any assailing army could not easily take cover, and artillery would have the benefit of a clear, open field. [11]

Several farms were positioned near Malvern Hill. Roughly 1,200 yards (1,100 m) [12] north of the hill were the Poindexter and Carter farms. Between the two farms was a swampy and thickly wooded area that made up the course of Western Run. The largest in the area was the Mellert family's farm, usually called the Crew farm for a former owner, [13] situated at the western side of the hill. About a quarter of a mile due east of Malvern Hill was the West farm. Between these two farms lay the Willis Church Road, which some locals called the Quaker Road. [14] This road also ran past the Malvern house, the hill's namesake, which was perched atop the southern edge of the plateau. [12] "It was, altogether, an exceedingly formidable position", wrote historian Douglas Southall Freeman. "Had the Union engineers searched the whole countryside below Richmond, they could not have found ground more ideally set for the slaughter of an attacking army." [15]

Key participants Edit

McClellan's forces prepare Edit

A few days prior to the action on Malvern Hill, McClellan incorrectly believed the Army of the Potomac was vastly outnumbered by its Confederate foe, [17] and his fear of being cut off from his supply depot left him cautious and wary. [18] On the night of June 28, McClellan told his generals he intended to move his army to a position on the north bank of the James River called Harrison's Landing, where they would be protected by Union gunboats. [19] The Army of the Potomac came to Malvern Hill, the army's final stop before reaching the Landing, with approximately 54,000 men. [20]

On the morning of June 30, 1862, the Union V Corps under Fitz John Porter, a part of McClellan's Army of the Potomac, amassed atop Malvern Hill. Col. Henry Hunt, McClellan's skilled chief of artillery, [10] posted 171 guns on the hill and 91 more in reserve in the south. [21] The artillery line on the hill's slope consisted of eight batteries of field artillery with 37 guns. [22] Brig. Gen. George Sykes's division would guard the line. In reserve were additional field artillery and three batteries of heavy artillery, which included five 4.5-inch (11 cm) Rodman guns, five 20-pounder (9.1 kg) Parrott rifles and six 32-pounder (15 kg) howitzers. [23] As more of McClellan's forces arrived at the hill, Porter continued to reinforce the Union line. Brig. Gen. George Morell's units, stationed between the Crew and West farms, extended the line to the northeastern section. Brig. Gen. Darius Couch's division of the IV Corps, as yet unbloodied by the skirmishes of the Seven Days, further extended the northeastern line. This left 17,800 soldiers from Couch's and Morell's divisions at the northern face of the hill, overlooking the Quaker Road, from which the Federals expected Lee's forces to attack. [22]

Early the next day, Tuesday, July 1, McClellan, having come from nearby Haxall's Landing the night before, examined his army's battle line on Malvern Hill. His inspection left him worried most about the Union Army's right (eastern) flank, which lay behind Western Run. Western Run was an area necessary for McClellan's plans to relocate to Harrison's Landing, and he feared an attack might come from there. As a result, he posted the largest portion of his army there: two divisions from Edwin Sumner's II Corps, two divisions from Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman's III Corps, two divisions from Brig. Gen. William Franklin's VI Corps and one division from Maj. Gen. Erasmus Keyes's IV Corps, who were stationed across the James. The division under Brig. Gen. George McCall, badly mangled in the fighting at Glendale and having lost McCall and two of its three brigadiers, was held in general reserve. [24]

McClellan did not believe his army was ready for a battle, and hoped Lee would not give them one. [25] Nonetheless, he left his troops at Malvern Hill and traveled downstream aboard the ironclad USS Galena to inspect his army's future resting place at Harrison's Landing. McClellan did not delegate an interim commander Porter, who was in command during the initial attack, became the de facto leader on the Union side of the battle. [25]

Lee's forces advance Edit

With around 55,000 soldiers, the Army of Northern Virginia was about evenly matched with the Federals, [20] and with Lee at the helm, notably more aggressive. He wanted a final, decisive attack that would effectively scatter the Federals. Several pieces of evidence—abandoned commissary stores, wagons and arms, and the hundreds of Union stragglers and deserters his units had happened upon and captured—led Lee to conclude that the Army of the Potomac was demoralized and retreating. In all the battles up to Malvern Hill, Lee's plans to destroy the Federal army had failed for one reason or another. Though he was undeterred, his chances for decisive victory were diminishing quickly. [26]

Early on the morning of the battle, Lee met with his lieutenants, including Maj. Gens. James Longstreet, A. P. Hill, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, John Magruder and D. H. Hill. [27] D. H. Hill, after talking with a chaplain familiar with the geography of Malvern Hill, cautioned against mounting an attack. "If General McClellan is there in strength," Hill said, "we had better let him alone." [28] Longstreet laughed off Hill's objections, saying "Don't get so scared, now that we've got him [McClellan] whipped." [29]

Lee chose the relatively well-rested commands of D. H. Hill, Stonewall Jackson and John Magruder to lead the Confederate offensive, as they had barely participated in the fighting of the day before. James Longstreet and A.P. Hill's divisions were held in reserve as they were in no condition to fight after Glendale, with almost half their officers and close to a quarter of the enlisted men killed or wounded. Brig. Gen Winfield Featherston's brigade was temporarily commanded by Brig. Gen George B. Anderson of D.H. Hill's division, as there was nobody left in the brigade above the rank of major. [28] According to Lee's plan, the Army of Northern Virginia would form a semi-circle enveloping Malvern Hill. D. H. Hill's five brigades would be placed along the northern face of the hill, forming the center of the Confederate line, and the commands of Stonewall Jackson and John Magruder would take the left and right flanks, respectively. Whiting's forces would position themselves on the Poindexter farm, with the outfits of Brig. Gen. Charles Sidney Winder and Richard Ewell nearby. The infantry of these three detachments would provide reinforcement for the Confederate line if necessary. Two veteran generals rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia for the battle, Brig. Gen Wade Hampton and Brig. Gen Jubal Early, both wounded two months earlier. Hampton and Early were given command of two of Jackson's brigades which had lost their commanders at Gaines Mill and had only inexperienced colonels to lead them. [30] Maj. Gen. Theophilus Holmes would take up a position on the extreme Confederate right flank. [28]

Disposition of armies Edit

The Army of the Potomac's disposition in the lead-up to the battle was more orderly than Lee's Army of Northern Virginia all of McClellan's forces would be concentrated in one place, save for Erasmus Keyes and one of his two divisions, which were stationed across the James River. [9] A Confederate scout observed Union soldiers resting in position, and moving about the hill unworried, whilst the disposition of the cannons around the hill's slope gave him the impression that the position was "almost impregnable". McClellan's army was on the hill in force. [31]

Throughout the Seven Days Battles, Lee's forces had been separated and scattered due to swamps, narrow roads and other geographic obstacles, and occasionally due to unclear orders. As the days of marching and fighting wore on the number of stragglers swelled to fill narrow roads and significantly deplete the Confederate ranks, presenting a significant additional strain on their combat readiness. [32] These hindrances continued during the Battle of Malvern Hill, with both Magruder and Huger making mistakes in the deployment of their forces. [28] [33]

At first, Magruder's units were behind Stonewall Jackson's column while marching down the Long Bridge Road, which led to Malvern Hill. Along this road were several adjoining pathways. One such road, called the Willis Church Road by some locals and the Quaker Road by others, led south from Glendale to Malvern Hill. Lee's maps labeled this "Quaker Road". Another of these paths began near a local farm and angled southwest toward an upriver point on the River Road—some locals called this the Quaker Road, including Magruder's guides, who led Magruder's army down this road rather than the Quaker Road shown on Lee's maps. James Longstreet eventually rode after Magruder, and persuaded him to reverse course. This incident delayed Magruder's arrival to the battlefield for three hours. [33]

Huger, worried about clashing with Union forces while marching towards Malvern Hill, had also failed to manage his division effectively. He deployed two of his brigades, commanded by Brig. Gens. Lewis Armistead and Ambrose Wright, to perform a flanking maneuver around any Federals they found, to avoid the Union threat. Longstreet eventually notified Huger that he would be unobstructed by Federal forces if he marched to Malvern Hill. Huger, however, remained in place until someone from Lee's headquarters came to guide them to the battlefield. [28]

As noon drew near with no sight of either Huger or Magruder, who were supposed to be manning the Confederate right flank, Lee replaced these two forces with the smaller units of Brig. Gens. Armistead and Wright, two of Huger's brigades that had reached the battlefield some time earlier. Huger and his other two brigades (under Brig. Gens. Ransom and Mahone) were still too far north of the scene. [34] Despite the mishaps and disunity, Malvern Hill would be the first time during the Seven Days Battles that Lee managed to concentrate his force. [28]

Union Edit

Confederate Edit

Lee orders artillery crossfire Edit

—Col. Robert H. Chilton's draft to commanders, sent July 1, 1862, about 1:30 pm. [35]

Lee surveyed the left flank himself for possible artillery positions. After a reconnoitering expedition on the right flank, James Longstreet returned to Lee the two compared their results and concluded that two grand battery-like positions would be established at the left and right sides of Malvern Hill. The converging artillery fire from the batteries, they reasoned, could weaken the Union line so a Confederate infantry attack could break through. [35] If this plan did not work out, Lee and Longstreet felt the artillery fire would buy them time to consider other plans. [30]

With a battle plan in order, Lee sent a draft to his lieutenants, written by his chief of staff, Col. Robert Chilton (see right box). The orders were not well-crafted, however, since they designated the yell of a single charging brigade as the only signal of attack for a full fifteen brigades. Amid the tumult and clamor of battle, this was bound to create confusion. Moreover, Chilton's draft effectively left the attack solely at the discretion of Lewis Armistead, who had never before held command of a brigade during battle. The draft also did not note the time it had been written, which later caused confusion for Magruder. [35] [36]

Failed Confederate barrage Edit

Beginning around 1 pm, Union artillery fired first, initially upon infantry in the woods, and later upon any Confederate artillery that attempted to move into firing position. [37] On the Confederate left flank, two batteries from Whiting's division and one from Jackson's [b] soon began firing from their position upon Darius Couch's division of the IV Corps, who were near the center of the Union line. This began a fierce firefight, with the Union's eight batteries and 37 guns concentrated against three Confederate batteries and sixteen guns. The Union fire silenced the Rowan Artillery and made their position untenable. The other two Confederate batteries, placed by Jackson himself, were in somewhat better positions, and managed to keep firing. Over a period of more than three hours, a total of six or eight Confederate batteries engaged the Union Army from the Confederate left flank, but they were usually engaged only one at a time. [39] [c]

On the Confederate right flank a total of six batteries [d] engaged the Federals, but they did so one-by-one instead of in unison, and each was consecutively cut to pieces by concentrated Union artillery fire. Moreover, they engaged the Union artillery later than the guns of the left flank, so the desired crossfire bombardment was never achieved. [43]

In all, the Confederate artillery barrage on both flanks completely failed to achieve its objectives. Confederate fire did manage to kill Capt. John E. Beam of the Union's 1st New Jersey Artillery, along with a few others, and several Federal batteries (though none that were actually engaged) had to move to avoid the fire. Although the barrage by Lee's forces did claim a few lives, Union forces remained unfazed and continued their fearsome barrage. Indeed, Union Army Lt. Charles B. Haydon supposedly fell asleep during the artillery fight. [44] On both the left and right flanks, several of the batteries that did engage lasted no more than minutes before being rendered incapable of fire. [40] Moreover, in a failure of command that, according to historian Thomas M. Settles, must ultimately be placed on Lee's shoulders, the movements of the two flanks were never coordinated with each other. [45] D. H. Hill found the failure of the Confederate artillery discouraging and later dismissed the barrage as "most farcical". [46]

Meanwhile, the Union artillery fire was planned and directed nearly flawlessly. As historian Jennings Cropper Wise notes, Col. Hunt, McClellan's chief of artillery, continuously refocused Union fire on various fronts, in an "enormous sheaf of fire of more than 50 superior pieces, disabling four of Huger's and several of Jackson's batteries almost the instant they came into action". [47] This severely hampered the Confederates' ability to respond effectively to the Federal barrage. The Union artillery subdued a number of the Southerners' batteries those few that remained attacked piecemeal, and failed to produce any significant result. [47]

Confederate infantry assaults Edit

Intense Confederate and especially Union artillery fire continued for at least an hour, slackening at about 2:30 pm. At about 3:30 pm, [48] Lewis Armistead noticed Union skirmishers creeping towards his men where the grand battery on the Confederate right flank was, nearly within rifle range of them. Armistead sent three regiments (about half of his brigade) [49] [e] from his command to push back the skirmishers, thus beginning the infantry part of the battle. The skirmishers were repelled quickly, but Armistead's men found themselves in the midst of an intense Union barrage. The Confederates decided to nestle themselves in a ravine along the hill's slant. This position protected them from the fire, but pinned them down on the slopes of Malvern Hill, unsupported by either infantry or artillery. They did not have enough men to advance any further and retreating would have put them back into the crossfire. [50]

Magruder's charge Edit

Not long after the advance of Armistead's regiments, John Magruder and his men arrived near the battlefield, albeit quite late because of the confusion regarding the names of local roads—by this time, it was 4 pm. Magruder was told at that morning's war council to move to Huger's right, but he was unaware of Huger's position, and sent Major Joseph L. Brent to locate Huger's right flank. Brent found Huger, who said he had no idea where his brigades were. Huger was noticeably upset that his men had been given orders by someone other than himself Lee had told Huger's two brigades under Armistead and Ambrose Wright to advance to the right part of the Confederate line. Upon hearing of this, Magruder was quite confused. He sent Capt. A. G. Dickinson to find Lee and inform him of the "successful" charge of Armistead's men and request further orders. Contrary to this message, Armistead was in fact pinned down halfway up Malvern Hill. At the same time, Whiting sent Lee an incorrect report that Union forces were retreating. Whiting had mistaken two events for a Federal withdrawal—the movement of Edwin Sumner's troops, who were adjusting their position to avoid the Confederate fire, and the relaxing of Union fire on his side, which was actually the Union artillery concentrating their firepower to a different front. [51] Whiting and Magruder's erroneous reports led Lee to send a draft of orders to Magruder via Dickinson: "General Lee expects you to advance rapidly", wrote Dickinson. "He says it is reported that the enemy is [retreating]. Press forward your whole line and follow up Armistead's success." Before Dickinson returned with these orders, Magruder was belatedly handed the order sent out three hours previously (at 1:30 pm) by Chilton. Since no time was affixed to the text of the orders, Magruder was unaware that these orders had been rendered meaningless by the failure of the Confederate artillery during the past few hours, and believed he had received two successive orders from Lee to attack. [52]

Believing himself bound by Lee's order to charge, but with his own brigades not yet in attacking position, Magruder mustered some five thousand men from Huger's brigades, including those of Ambrose Wright and Maj. Gen. William Mahone and half of the men from Armistead's brigade who were caught in the open battlefield. Magruder had also sent for Brig. Gen. Robert Ransom, Jr., also under Huger's command, who noted that he had been given strict instructions to ignore any orders not originating from Huger, and apologetically said he could not help Magruder. Magruder additionally ordered men under his personal command—three regiments of Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb's brigade, plus Col. William Barksdale's full brigade—to the attack. Because of the confusion regarding Quaker Road, however, these brigades were not yet near enough to do more than move into supporting position, and Magruder wanted to attack immediately. [53] Despite this, under Magruder's order at about 5:30 pm, Wright's brigade with Armistead's, then Mahone's brigade, started darting out of the woods and towards the Union line. [54] The artillery of the Confederate left flank, under Jackson's personal command, also renewed their barrage with the late arrival of two batteries of Richard Ewell's division. [55] The Confederates were initially engaged solely by Union sharpshooters, but the latter quickly fell back to give their own artillery a clear field of fire. Antipersonnel canister shot was employed with deadly effect. Wright's men were pinned down in a small depression on the rolling hillside, to the right of Armistead's Mahone's were driven back into retreat in about the same area. [56] At some point during the first wave of assaults, Cobb moved into close supporting position behind Armistead. Barksdale's men were also supporting, to the left of Armistead. [57]

The firefight also alerted the three Union boats on the James—the ironclad USS Galena, and the gunboats USS Jacob Bell and USS Aroostook [f] —which began lobbing missiles twenty inches (510 mm) in length and eight inches (200 mm) in diameter from their position on the James River onto the battlefield. [59] The explosions and impacts of the gunboat fire impressed the Confederate troops, but the guns' aim was unreliable, and the large shells did considerably less damage than might have been expected. [60]

Hill's charge Edit

D. H. Hill had been discouraged by the failure of the Confederate artillery, [46] and asked Stonewall Jackson to supplement Chilton's draft. Jackson's response was that Hill should obey the original orders: charge with a yell after Armistead's brigade. No yell was heard for hours, and Hill's men began building bivouac shelters to sleep in. [61] Around 6 pm Hill and his five brigade commanders [g] had assumed that the lack of a signal meant their army would not attempt any assault. They were conferring together about Chilton's order when they heard yells and the commotion of a charge from their right flank, roughly where Armistead was supposed to be. [h] Hill took the yell as the signal and shouted to his commanders, "That must be the general advance. Bring up your brigades as soon as possible and join in it." [62] D. H. Hill's five brigades, with some 8,200 men, had to contend with the dense woodlands around the Quaker Road and Western Run, which destroyed any order they may have had. Men advanced out of the woods towards the Union line in five separate, uncoordinated attacks, and each brigade charged up the hill alone: "We crossed one fence, went through another piece of woods, then over another fence [and] into an open field on the other side of which was a long line of Yankees", wrote William Calder of the 2nd Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. "Our men charged gallantly at them. The enemy mowed us down by fifties." [64] Some brigades in Hill's division made it close enough to exchange musket fire and engage in hand-to-hand combat, but these were driven back. [65] The artillery response on the Federal side to Hill's charge was particularly withering, and soon, Hill's men needed support just to hold their ground. In Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles, Brian K. Burton called Hill's charge "unnecessary and costly". [66] The successive assaults of Hill's brigades on the well-entrenched Federals were short-lived, and achieved little. [66]

Final assaults Edit

Preceding attacks by Lee's army had done barely anything to accomplish Confederate objectives, but this did not deter Magruder, who rode back and forth across the battlefield, calling for reinforcements and personally launching unit after unit into a charge of the Union line. At this point, men who had always been directly under Magruder's command began to join the battle. Magruder first encountered some units of Brig. Gen. Robert Toombs. With Toombs's brigade widely dispersed, the individual units Magruder found were not with Toombs himself. Magruder personally led the men in a short-lived charge, followed by a disordered retreat. Other units nominally under Toombs's command appeared, charged and retreated at various times throughout the next few hours, with little or no organization. [67] The brigades of Col. George T. Anderson and Col. William Barksdale emerged from the woods to the right of Toombs, but as they did so, Anderson's men also became separated, as the left side outpaced the right. This created an advance with two of Anderson's regiments on the far Confederate left next to Toombs, Barksdale's men in the middle, and three more Anderson regiments on the far right, near the remnants of Wright and Mahone. Anderson's right flank charged, but made it no farther than the foot of the hill before breaking and retreating under a hail of antipersonnel artillery. Anderson's left flank never charged. [68] Barksdale's brigade charged at roughly the same time, and made it considerably farther up the hill, engaging the Union infantry of Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield in a firefight that lasted more than an hour. [69]

Lee received Magruder's calls for reinforcement and instructed Huger to let Ransom go support the men trapped on the field of battle. He also sent orders to the brigades of Brig. Gens. Joseph B. Kershaw and Paul Jones Semmes, in Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws's division within Magruder's command. [32] Robert Ransom's unit, after they finally showed up with Huger's permission, first attempted to charge straight up the hill, following the path of other Confederate brigades attempting to aid Magruder. When this proved useless, Ransom ordered them to regroup in the woods to the Confederate right, march double-time a half a mile in a hook to the right around all the other Confederate units and attack the far Union western flank. While Ransom was angling west, Jackson responded to a request for reinforcement from D. H. Hill by sending forward brigades from his own command to move from the east into the area where D. H. Hill had attacked. From his own division Jackson sent Brig. Gens. Alexander Lawton and Charles S. Winder, and from Ewell's division, Brig. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble and Cols. Leroy A. Stafford and Jubal Early. Brig. Gen John R. Jones was wounded in the hand and command of his brigade went to Lt. Col Richard Cunningham of the 48th Virginia, who had commanded the brigade a few days earlier while Jones was on sick leave. [70]

Ransom's men managed to come closer to the Union line than any Confederates that day, guided by the flashing light of the cannons amidst an encroaching darkness however, George Sykes's artillery repelled that attack. [71] The brigades of Kershaw and Semmes, sent earlier by Lee, arrived to the front while Ransom was moving to attack in another position. Semmes and Kershaw were quickly sent in they too were repulsed not long after. [72] Semmes was west of the junction of Carter's Mill Road and Willis Church Road, in the vicinity of Barksdale, Mahone and Wright. Semmes made the final charge of the day west of these roads, and like the charges before, it was to little effect. Kershaw angled east, in the area where Toombs, Anderson and Cobb had attacked. [73] This was an area of great confusion. Kershaw's troops arrived ahead of all the reinforcements sent by Jackson, and took fire from both friendly and hostile forces: from Confederates behind them firing wildly and Federals in front firing effectively. Kershaw's men retreated in rout. [74] The brigades behind Kershaw charged incoherently, with some men pushing forward, and others getting separated from their units or confused when they encountered groups of retreating Confederates. Disorganized, retreating soldiers from various units were so numerous they slowed Jackson's men to nearly a standstill. [67] Jackson's unit commanders attempted to organize their various regiments and rally the retreaters to join in, but it was all to very little effect. A few units fought fiercely against Union infantry and artillery. In particular, three regiments of Barlow's brigade made it close enough to Union lines to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the troops of Brig. Gen. Daniel Sickles before being driven back. As the sun was starting to go down, Brig. Gen Isaac Trimble began to move his brigade forward. Stonewall Jackson asked him what he was planning to do. "I am going to charge those batteries, sir!" Trimble answered. "I guess you'd better not try it. General D.H. Hill has just tried with his entire division and been repulsed. I guess you'd better not try it," Jackson replied. [75]

Night was falling, however, and eventually all these troops were ordered to merely hold their positions without charging. [76] In the end, the charges of Semmes and Kershaw were the last coherent Confederate actions, and neither was successful. [73] Brig. Gen. Porter summed up the Confederate infantry charges at Malvern Hill this way:

As if moved by a reckless disregard of life equal to that displayed at Gaines' Mill, with a determination to capture our army, or destroy it by driving us into the river, brigade after brigade rushed at our batteries, but the artillery of both Morell and Couch mowed them down with shrapnel, grape, and canister, while our infantry, withholding their fire until the enemy were in short range, scattered the remnants of their columns, sometimes following them up and capturing prisoners and colors. [77]

With the infantry part of the battle over, Union artillery continued to boom across the hill. They stopped firing at 8:30 pm, leaving a wreath of smoke upon the crest's edge, and ending the action on Malvern Hill. [78]

Plan of the battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia. Fought June 30th and July 1st, 1862.

“The position of Union forces at Malvern Hill was on the West. Overlooking Warren were 36 guns having full sweep of the Valley and over the River Road. These batteries were [Stephen Hinsdale] Weed's NYork battery, Edwards’, Carlisle’s, Smead’s and Voegele’s. To these later in the day were added the siege guns 1st Conn. Artillery under Col. Robert O. Tyler[,] these were placed on high ground near the Malvern House (or Wyatt’s brick house). These swept all the meadow to the left. [George Webb] Morrell prolonged [George] Sykes’ line on Crew’s Hill[] on his left was Weeden’s battery of Rhode Island, also Livingston’s, Edwards’, Kingsbury, Ames, Waterman’s, Hydes and Bramhalls’ Batteries (61 guns) — all under supervision of Genl. [Charles] Griffin — other batteries were placed in reserve in back of Crew’s house and near West’s house — all these guns were in action — To these were added the immense guns of 3 gunboats on the James River. Shows the section of eastern Henrico County, Va., where the Battle of Malvern Hill took place. Sneden includes extensive notes discussing the position of various divisions and the course of action, including those below.

“The 1st and 4th Army Corps (Fitz-John Porter and Keyes) took their position on Malvern Hill on the morning of 30th June, they being the first to arrive there. The rest of the retreating army arrived there from 3 1/2 to 5 PM. The Enemy got there about 5 1/4 PM. Holmes’ Division of Magruder's Command.” – Page caption.
Color coding indicates the location of Union and Confederate forces.

This item is from the collections of the Virginia Historical Society please contact the institution for more information.
In the Robert Knox Sneden Scrapbook (Mss5:7 Sn237:1 p. 172).

Virginia Historical Society, P.O. Box 7311, Richmond, VA 23221-0311 USA

The Battle of Malvern Hill was the sixth and last of the Seven Days’ Battles. On July 1, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee launched a series of disjointed assaults on the nearly impregnable Union position on Malvern Hill. The Confederates suffered more than 5,300 casualties without gaining an inch of ground. Despite his victory, McClellan withdrew to entrench at Harrison’s Landing on James River, where his army was protected by gunboats. The Battle of Malvern Hill ended the Peninsula Campaign. When McClellan’s army ceased to threaten Richmond, Lee sent Jackson to operate against Maj. Gen. John Pope’s army along the Rapidan River, thus initiating the Northern Virginia Campaign of the Civil War.


In March 1862, McClellan opened the Peninsula Campaign by sailing from Alexandria, Virginia, to Fort Monroe . Over the next two months, his army cautiously advanced toward Richmond, but Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston checked him at Seven Pines on May 31–June 1. Lee, assuming command for the wounded Johnston, seized the initiative on June 26 by attacking the Union right flank at Mechanicsville . McClellan retreated southeast toward the protection of the Union Navy on the James River , while Lee aggressively pursued, attacking at Gaines’s Mill , Savage’s Station , and Glendale .

The Battle of Malvern Hill

A Confederate 6-Pounder Cannon at Malvern Hill Rob Shenk

Winston Churchill visited the Richmond battlefields in 1929. Always a perceptive student of military history, the future Prime Minister appreciated the opportunity to examine all of the Seven Days battlefields in person. Of the Chickahominy River, he wrote, “What a surprise! It is little more than a woodland stream and White Oak Swamp! a thicket with some puddles.” He said little of the individual battles of the Seven Days, but his touring experiences outside Richmond reinforced in his mind the advantages of personally inspecting battlefields. “No one can understand what happened merely through reading books and studying maps,” he mused. “You must see the ground you must cover the distances in person you must measure the rivers, and see what the swamps were really like.”

Bobby Krick on the Malvern Hill Battlefield Rob Shenk

Eighty years later, Churchill’s admonition applies more to Malvern Hill than to any other battlefield around Richmond. The last of the Seven Days battles bears a reputation today grounded on geography: an imposing hill, stoutly defended by Union cannoneers, against which the Confederate leaders hurled waves of infantry in ill-coordinated frontal assaults. All of that is true, but first-time visitors to the well-preserved battlefield inevitably see something different than they imagined. The hill at Malvern Hill is no mountain it is a gentle slope. Anyone walking in the footsteps of the unfortunate Confederate infantry immediately learns that the reality of the landscape is different than the menacing precipice expected from reading the reminiscences of men who were on the spot in 1862.

The series of events that reached their denouement at Malvern Hill began on June 26, 1862, when the Confederate army of R. E. Lee initiated offensive operations outside Richmond. “Stonewall” Jackson’s command swept in above and behind George McClellan’s Federal army near Mechanicsville. In the course of 100 memorable hours, the armies marched and fought across a broad corridor east of Richmond. McClellan applied all his energy to removing his army to the James River. Lee was determined to stop McClellan from escaping. An inconclusive battle at Glendale (Frayser’s Farm) on June 30 gave the Union army the time and cushion it needed to reach the river. Mighty gunboats roamed the James, representing safety and continued security for the harassed Federalists.

Robert E. Lee Library of Congress

Lee’s frustration at McClellan’s June 30 escape boiled over on the next morning. He snapped at innocent questions and chafed at delays. His chance to inflict a really crushing, war-changing defeat on the Union army had passed. Now the Federals had stopped atop Malvern Hill, in easy range of the James, and prepared for defense. The men in blue hoped that Lee would be imprudent enough to attack their new position, giving them an opportunity to exact revenge for their weeklong series of defeats.

Malvern Hill is more suitable for defense than most spots in central Virginia. In 1862 the nearest body of Confederate-held trees stood approximately 800 yards from the crest of the hill, and in most directions the distance was closer to a full mile. When Lee’s men finally attacked late in the afternoon, most of them spent a deadly ten or fifteen minutes ascending gently rising, open ground. Union artillerists rejoiced at their opportunity and delivered cannon fire of unprecedented violence on the Confederate infantry.

General Lee had no intention of making a frontal assault directly up the dangerous hill. Initially he developed a scheme where his artillery, deployed at widely separated spots, would drop a converging fire on the Union batteries at the crest of Malvern Hill and silence the menacing guns. Only then did Lee feel that his infantry stood a good chance of carrying the hill by direct assault. The crossfire bombardment failed badly, yet Lee’s men attacked anyway, thrown into the charge after a series of misunderstandings and bungled orders. Lee seems not to have been on the battlefield when the main attacks started. Instead, he was off looking for a non-existent way to get around McClellan’s army and cut him off from the James River.

The precise sequence of events eludes historians even to this day. Some of Lee’s subordinate commanders operated under obsolescent orders. Confusion about the ground and the relative positions of various units further complicated the situation. Whatever the origin, about 35,000 men of Lee’s army eventually stepped off into the assault up Malvern Hill, many of them going forward incrementally, without plan or purpose.

Fitz John Porter (Library of Congress)

McClellan’s trusted subordinate Fitz John Porter had tactical command of the hill’s defense. General Morell’s division of Porter’s own Fifth Corps filled one side of the hilltop, General Couch’s Fourth Corps division defended the other. Opposite Morell, a vast miscellany of Confederates tested the position. Men from the divisions of D. H. Hill, D. R. Jones, Lafayette McLaws, Benjamin Huger, and J. B. Magruder all charged and suffered. One North Carolina soldier struggled to explain just how awful it was, finally resorting to the ultimate superlative: “The enemy opened the most terrific and destructive fire…that ever any troop met since the world began.” On Couch’s front, wrinkles on the front slope of Malvern Hill could have permitted aggressive Confederates to get within rifle range of the Union cannon. Couch blocked that eventuality by putting his own infantry there, producing short-range firefights with some of Stonewall Jackson’s men.

But the Union artillery line set the tempo for the defense. With room for only about 30-35 cannon on the slender crest of the hill, General Porter still had plenty of firepower to produce winning results. The exposed approach up the hill afforded the Confederates no shelter. As infantry brigades advanced they stalled in front of a wall of cannon fire and fell back. Too often they collided with advancing reinforcements, producing countless cases of “friendly fire” and unnecessary loss. A Georgia survivor with bitter memories wrote about brigades dashing seriatim into the maelstrom, “and those coming last, not knowing who were in front, fired with deadly effect into our friends, very naturally causing a panic in the front brigades, who of course thought they were flanked.”

Periodically a Federal six-gun battery expended all its ammunition, or an infantry brigade fired off all its cartridges. In every instance ready replacements hurried up and seamlessly filled in. Toward dusk a few Confederate brigades found new lines of approach, using the steeply angled face of the western slope to protect their route. Those formations got closer than their predecessors—a few within 75 or 100 yards of the cannon—but no Confederate reached the crest of the hill. When the last explosive musket flashes died out after dark, some 8000 men lay dead and wounded across a few hundred gruesome acres. More than 5000 of that number wore gray, victims of one of the most ill-managed and uncoordinated major assaults of the entire Civil War.

A dense, gloomy rain greeted early risers on July 2. The United States troops were gone, having abandoned Malvern Hill overnight and marched to a secure supply base at Harrison’s Landing on the James River. The Confederates controlled Malvern Hill, the object of their assaults the day before, but Lee wanted to harm the Union army, to inflict a crippling defeat on it. Possession of Malvern Hill did him no good at all, and in a few days the Confederates shortened their lines and moved back closer to Richmond, signaling the end of the Seven Days Campaign.

A Confederate 6-Pounder Cannon at Malvern Hill Rob Shenk

A Union victory by any definition, the Battle of Malvern Hill produced no critical results in the progress of the war. The outcome of the campaign had not been in doubt before Malvern Hill only the degree of McClellan’s defeat east of Richmond remained to be resolved. Two defining themes emerged from the battle: the absence in the Confederate army, on that day, of what the modern armed forces term “command and control” and the influence of the landscape on the course of the battle. Poor staff work, bad communication, wretched tactics, and the erosion of battlefield discipline all characterize the Confederate condition on July 1. They were ingredients in the dreadful recipe that produced defeat for Lee’s army.

More than that, Malvern Hill stands today as a classic example of how the physical environment shaped battles. Every battlefield has nuances awaiting discovery by anyone interested enough to tramp the ground, yet nothing in central Virginia offers greater rewards than a careful examination of Malvern Hill. Its pristine condition and high state of preservation (thanks mostly to the Civil War Preservation Trust, and now to the Richmond National Battlefield Park) make it possible to appreciate and understand why McClellan stopped and fought there, why his troops swelled with sudden confidence, how 8000 men could become casualties in just five hours, and how Lee’s army suffered its last major defeat for at least a year.

About Robert E. L. Krick

Robert E. L. Krick is an historian on the staff at Richmond National Battlefield Park. In the 1980's he worked at Custer Battlefield (now Little Bighorn Battlefield) in Montana, and at Manassas National Battlefield. His latest book is Staff Officers in Gray (UNC Press, 2003).

Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862 - History

July 1, 1862
The last of the Seven Days Battles, the battle of Malvern Hill, takes place east of Richmond. Though the attacking Confederate force is halted by powerful Union artillery that day, the Army of the Potomac continues its movement the next day away from Richmond to the vicinity of Berkeley Plantation on the northern bank of the James River.

July 1, 1971
Singer-songwriter Melissa “Missy” Elliott is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.

July 2, 1788
The newly adopted U.S. Constitution goes into effect in Virginia. The document is based, primarily, on the "Virginia Plan," which was drafted by James Madison.

July 4, 1584
Sailing under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Ralegh, Philip Armadas and Arthur Barlowe land on the Atlantic coast in what is now North Carolina. The English name the entire region "Virginia," in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen."

July 4, 1963
Monticello holds the first of its annual naturalization ceremonies.

July 4, 1776
The Continental Congress formally approves the Declaration of Independence, drafted primarily by Thomas Jefferson with revisions added by Benjamin Franklin. The document details a philosophy of human rights and lists grievances against the royal government.

July 4, 1826
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, dies at his home, Monticello, fifty years to the day after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which he drafted. The second president, John Adams, dies on the same day.

July 4, 1831
James Monroe, fifth U.S. president and a native of Westmoreland County dies. Monroe's body will be disinterred from its resting place in New York City and relocated to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond in 1858.

July 4, 1989
The United Mine Workers of America hold a rally in Norton, Virginia, during the Pittston Coal Strike. Long-time labor activist Cesar Chavez delivers a speech to a crowd of about five thousand.

July 10, 1943
Tennis champion Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., is born in Richmond. In 1975, he will become the first African American male to win the Wimbledon singles title.

July 15, 1864
Bank president and business woman Maggie Lena Walker, is born in Richmond. In 1903, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and was probably the first woman bank president in America. She also worked tirelessly for education reform, women's suffrage, voter registration, and other political and community causes.

July 19, 1951
Eastern Airlines Flight 601 from Newark, New Jersey, crash lands in open fields at Curles Neck Farm near Richmond, Virginia. All 53 passengers and crew survived.

July 21, 1861
Union forces under General Irvin McDowell cross Bull Run, initiating the first major battle of the Civil War, the battle of Manassas or Bull Run. A costly confederate victory shatters hopes on both sides for a quick bloodless war.

July 25, 1831
Cyrus McCormick demonstrates the world's first successful mechanical reaper on a crop of oats in Rockbridge County.

July 28, 1903
Maggie L. Walker establishes the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, becoming the first woman in the United States to found and become president of a chartered bank. She serves as its president until 1931.

July 30, 1619
The Virginia General Assembly, the first representative legislative body in North America, convenes at Jamestown. Hot, humid weather during the six-day session claims the life of Walter Shelly of Smythes Hundred and causes illness among several burgesses and the governor, Sir George Yeardley.

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Battle of Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862 - History

Private Edwin F. Jemison
The eyes of Private Edwin F. Jemison, the
Confederacy's best known private soldier, reach
through the years to remind us of the cost of war.
Library of Congress

Through 150 years of history, the sad face of
Private Edwin F. Jemison looks out at us to
remind us of the terrible cost of war. Jemison
is probably the best known enlisted soldier of
the Confederacy, even if his story is known to

A monument to Edwin F. Jemison, who was
identified in his military service file simply as
E.F. Jemison, can be found at the historic
Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville,
Georgia. An accompanying interpretive panel
tells the story of a young man who gave his
life for his country.

The descendant of proud Georgia families,
Edwin Francis Jemison was born December
4, 1844 to Robert and Sarah Jemison. Both
parents were educated and considered part
of the Southern aristocracy of their day. Edwin
was the great-grandson of a hero of the
American Revolution and the descendant of
members of a prominent Quaker family that
had settled Wrightsboro, Georgia, when the
state was still a British colony.

By the time of the Civil War, Edwin's family
had moved to Louisiana and established
new holdings in the Monroe area. He was 16
years old when Louisiana seceded from the
Union on January 26, 1861.

Like tens of thousands of other young men of
his generation, Edwin F. Jemison responded
to the calls of patriotism and enlisted in the
Confederate army. According to his Service
Record in the National Archives, he entered
the Confederate service on May 11, 1861,
when he was mustered into Company I, 2nd
Louisiana Infantry, for a one-year tour of duty.
His 17th birthday was still seven months

Possibly because of his age, Edwin was
immediately detached for "special service"
under General John Magruder in May and
June of 1861. It was probably during this time
period that the famous photograph was

By July, Jemison had moved to Company B
of the 2nd Louisiana Infantry, in which he
remained until April of 1862.

The 2nd Louisiana was one of the regiments
sent north from the Deep South to reinforce
Virginia as the war intensified in the country
between RIchmond and Washington, D.C.
Jemison's service record shows that he was
hospitalized due to illness at Williamsburg,
Virginia, in December of 1861.

By January 1862, however, he was back at
his post in the cold temperatures and snow
of the Virginia winter. His regiment became
part of the army assembled by General
Joseph E. Johnston to oppose the Peninsula
Campaign of Union General George F.
McClellan in the spring of 1862, by which
time the young soldier had moved again to
Company C, 2nd Louisiana Infantry.

Jemison's regiment fought and skirmished
with the massive Union army as it advanced
to within sight of the spires of Richmond
before General Johnston suddenly turned on
it with a fury in the bloody Battle of Seven
Pines. Johnston was severely wounded and
General Robert E. Lee assumed command,
continuing the offensive through what is
known as the Seven Days Campaign.

In a critical battle of the campaign, Lee sent
waves of Southern troops charging across
open ground into the muzzles of Union guns
positioned on a piece of high ground called
Malvern Hill. It was in this battle that Private
Edwin F. Jemison was shot down on July 1,
1862. He was 17 years old.

A monument to Edwin Jemison has stood at
Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville,
Georgia, for more than 100 years.

Although some modern researchers point
out they are unable to find written
documentation of his body being buried
there, many Confederate soldiers were
brought home by their relatives during and
after the Civil War. Evidence presented that
the young soldier lies elsewhere is very
circumstantial and there is no reason to
assume that his remains were not brought
back to Georgia by his family after the war
when the monument was erected.

Memory Hill Cemetery is located where
South Liberty Street intersects with West
Franklin Street in Milledgeville. Jemison's
grave is on the self-guided walking tour of the
cemetery, brochures from which can be
obtained at the gate.

The cemetery is open daily during daylight
hours. Please click here for more information .


By the morning of July 1st, 1862, McClellan had rallied his reunited army of 89,000 on the crest of Malvern Hill, approximately two miles north of the James River. Here, McClellan prepared to stave off Lee's reassembled army of 71,000 before beginning his retreat southeast along the James River to his new supply base at Harrison's Landing. Fitz John Porter's Fifth Corps assumed a position along the western ridge of Malvern Hill, close to the Crew House. Along the eastern edge of the ridge sat elements of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth corps, under Edwin Sumner, Samuel Heintzelman, Darius Couch (filling in for Erasmus Keyes), and William Franklin, respectively. A total of 18,000 Union infantry occupied this position, reinforced by approximately 15,000 troops held in reserve behind the ridge. Henry Hunt, the Union Chief of Artillery, deployed approximately 37-40 pieces of artillery along the ridge, straddling Willis Church Road.

That morning, General Lee gathered some of his generals near his headquarters on Willis Church Road to discuss the possibility of a renewed assault. Frustrated by his army's failure on the previous day to trap and crush McClellan's army at Glendale, Lee was anxious to resume fighting on the 1st and deliver one last blow to the Federals before they could retreat to the James Lee directed two "grand batteries" to be placed on either side of Carter's Mill Road to bombard and weaken the Federal guns along the Crew house ridge. Following the bombardment, Magruder and Jackson were to assault simultaneously on either side of Carter's Mill Road and Willis Church Road, with D.H. Hill's division of Jackson's command attacking from the point of woods, and Benjamin Huger driving at Porter's left flank along Malvern Cliffs. Lee directed Theophilus Holmes to guard his flank along the River Road, and advised Longstreet's and A.P. Hill's badly cut-up divisions to wait in reserve along the Long Bridge Road.

However, Lee's official orders that morning were uncharacteristically vague and poorly communicated. Additionally, confusion with maps, terrain, and the local road network continued to plague the Confederates. General Magruder's forces arrived frustratingly late to the battlefield. Ultimately, the two grand batteries failed to materialize, largely due to poor coordination among Lee's generals. Confusion over the exact signal for the infantry assault, faulty maps and topographical errors delayed the arrival of numerous Confederate units and resulted in a highly piecemeal advance of D.H. Hill's and Stonewall Jackson's divisions. The effect of the Federal guns on the advancing Confederate lines was murderous. Federals mowed down wave after wave of Confederates.

Toward dusk, however, the perseverant Confederates came within 20-40 yards of the Federal line. Intense hand-to-hand combat ensued on the left of the Union flank. Reinforcements on either flank were called forward to help repulse the oncoming Confederates. By nightfall, Confederate generals finally cancelled the attack. D.H. Hill surveyed the carnage on the bloody field and remarked, disgustedly, "it was not war, it was murder." The battle had exacted nearly 8,000 casualties.

The high casualties and lessons learned at Malvern Hill and the Seven Days battles raised both the military and political stakes of the war in profound ways.

Malvern Hill

Nearby stood the Malvern Hill manor house built for Thomas Cocke in the 17th century. The Marquis de Lafayette camped here in July-August 1781, and elements of the Virginia militia encamped nearby during the War of 1812. During the Civil War, 1 July 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee attacked Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac here as it retreated to the James River from the gates of Richmond. Although he dealt Lee a bloody defeat, McClellan continued his withdrawal to Harrison's Landing. The Malvern Hill house survived the battle as a Federal headquarters but burned in 1905.

Erected 1999 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number V-4.)

Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era &bull War of 1812 &bull War, US Civil &bull War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Battlefield Trails - Civil War series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 1, 1862.

Location. 37° 23.706′ N, 77° 15.007′ W. Marker is near Granville, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker is at the intersection of New Market Road (Virginia Route 5) and Malvern Hill Lane, on the right when traveling west on New Market Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Henrico VA 23231, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles

of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Fergusons of Malvern Hill (within shouting distance of this marker) Aggy's Freedom Suit (within shouting distance of this marker) Seven Days Battles (approx. 1.2 miles away) Advantages of Terrain (approx. 1.2 miles away) A Place of Refuge (approx. 1.2 miles away) Battlefield Landscape (approx. 1.2 miles away) The Crew House (approx. 1.2 miles away) Battlefield of Malvern Hill (approx. 1.2 miles away).

Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Battle of Malvern Hill by Markers

Also see . . .
1. Malvern Hill. National Register documentation for Malvern Hill. The entry includes a topographical map indicating the location of the ruins. (Submitted on July 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)

2. 23rd PA at Malvern Hill - July 1st 1862. This page has pictures of the Malvern Hill House including one photograph of the ruins as they are today. (Submitted on June 2, 2014, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.)

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 27, 2008, by Kathy Walker of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,531 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 27, 2008, by Kathy Walker of Stafford, Virginia. 2. submitted on July 9, 2010, by Forest McDermott of Masontown, Pennsylvania. &bull Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

Editor&rsquos want-list for this marker. Photos of the Malvern Hill ruins. &bull Can you help?

Watch the video: Malvern Hill 150th Anniversary Tour Robert Krick