June 23

This Day in History

Civil War

Jun 23, 1862:

Lee confers with his generals before the Seven Days' Battles

On this day, Confederate General Robert E. Lee meets with his corps commanders to plot an attack on General George McClellan's Army of the Potomac. Launched on June 26, the attack would break the stalemate of the Peninsular campaign in Virginia and trigger the Seven Days' Battles.

McClellan had spent two months shipping his army down the Chesapeake to the James Peninsula for a run at the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Despite having a larger number of troops, McClellan moved slowly and timidly, and his advance stalled on June 1, less than 10 miles from Richmond. For the next three weeks, McClellan's and Lee's armies faced off, but little fighting occurred.

Now Lee sought to seize the initiative. He summoned his generals for a council on June 23. Included in the meeting was General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, fresh off his highly successful Shenandoah Valley campaign. Jackson was traveling ahead of his army, which was still marching back from western Virginia.

Lee announced to his commanders that the time had come to attack the Yankee invaders. Lee planned an assault on the Union right flank, which was separated from the rest of the Yankee army by the Chickahominy River. Plans were made for the Battle of Mechanicsville, Virginia, on June 26, and Jackson rode back to his troops. The stage was set for the Seven Days' Battles.

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