Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
1862 Seven Days' Battles
Visiting Richmond National Battlefield Park
The concentration of Civil War resources found in the Richmond area is unparalleled. The National Park Service manages 13 sites, giving visitors an opportunity to examine the battlefield landscapes, to hear the stories of the combatants and civilian residents, and to understand the complex reasons why Richmond came to symbolize the heart and soul of the Confederacy.
This is a partial list of park regulations. Site is open sunrise to sunset. Report suspicious activities to any park employee or call 804-795-5018. In emergencies call 911.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is illegal.
Hunting, trapping, feeding, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Weapons are prohibited inside all park buildings.
Pets must be on a leash.
Recreation activities like kite-flying, ball-playing, and frisbee throwing are prohibited.
Motor vehicles and bicycles
1862 Seven Days’ Battles
No military campaign had more influence on the course of the Civil War than these Seven Days’ battles. George B. McClellan’s army of more than 100,000 Union soldiers landed at Fort Monroe in spring of 1862, and fought its way up the peninsula. By mid-May the Army of the Potomac lay on the outskirts of Richmond, hoping to capture the capital of the Confederacy and perhaps end the war. If that strategy succeeded the nation might be reunified, but without abolition of slavery. Confederate General Robert E. Lee chose not to wait for the Federal army’s next move. Instead he seized the initiative, and on June 26 advanced across the Chickahominy River with nearly 45,000 soldiers. That action opened a week-long series of battles that resulted in the Union army retreating to the banks of the James River. With Richmond secure, Lee’s army moved north, defeated Union forces at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas (Bull Run), and then marched toward Maryland and the first invasion of the North.
Lee massed much of his own Confederate army at Chickahominy Bluff and surged over the river in a combined operation with Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
Beaver Dam Creek
Later that afternoon Lee’s men struck a well positioned piece of the Federal
McClellan decided to move to a new base on the James River, but his rearguard at Gaines’ Mill barely escaped destruction when Lee’s Confederates launched an all-out attack, triggering the second and largest battle of the Seven Days.
McClellan organized his retreat and achieved a head start in what would become a race to the James River. Meanwhile, Lee shifted from protecting Richmond to pursuing and defeating the Union army. A Confederate probe at Gouldin’s Farm, south of the Chickahominy River, produced a small battle.
Lee pushed his men forward against the Union army’s rear at Savage’s Station, on the Richmond & York River Railroad. The inconclusive battle there produced 1,400 casualties and temporarily slowed the progress of McClellan’s retreat.
Confederate columns pursued the Union army. A vicious battle at Glendale (or Frayser’s Farm) gave Lee his best opportunity of the campaign, but the determined resistance of McClellan’s subordinates kept the line of retreat open.
McClellan’s army took up a strong defensive position atop Malvern Hill. Poorly coordinated Confederate attacks
The Confederates pursued the Northern army to its new base at Harrison’s Landing. Lee determined no offensive opportunities remained, and ended his campaign to drive foe away from Richmond, concluding the Seven Days’ battles.
Gaines’ Mill Breakthrough Trail
The park protects only a small fraction of the Gaines’ Mill battlefield, but the preserved ground includes some of the most significant landmarks of the engagement.
This trail will lead you to where the climactic moment of the battle occurred—where General John B. Hood’s Confederate forces first broke the Union line. From there you can loop back to the parking area, or continue on a longer trail that takes you to the extreme left of the Union position and to the location of the Wilcox’s Brigade monument.
Erected 2011 by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1789.
Location. 37° 34.452′ N, 77° 17.449′ W. Marker is in Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker is on Watt House Road, 0.7 miles south of Cold Harbor Road. This marker is located in the Gaines' Mill Battlefield unit of the Richmond Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6283 Watt House Road, Mechanicsville VA 23111, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle of Gaines’ Mill (here, next to this marker); Seven Days Battles (a few steps from this marker); The Watt House (within shouting distance of this marker); Springfield Plantation (within shouting distance of this marker); Lee’s First Victory: At a Huge Cost (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Pursuit (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Gaines' Mill (within shouting distance of this marker); Union Artillery (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
More about this marker. On the left panel is a map of Civil War sites managed by the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
On the center panel is a map of the Federal advance up the Peninsula and a map of the Seven Days’ Battles.
On the right panel is a map of the Walking Trail, a portrait of "Brig. Gen. John B. Hood", and an illustration from Harper's Weekly.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Old Marker At This Location also titled "Gaines' Mill".
Also see . . .
1. Richmond National Battlefield Park. (Submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
2. Gaines’ Mill. CWSAC Battle Summary (Submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
3. Gaines’ Mill. Civil War Trust (Submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,028 times since then and 99 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on February 13, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.