Primary Source Material
on the Soldiers and the Battles
Home The Armies The Soldiers The Battles Civilians Articles Sources About Us
If this website has been useful to you, please consider making a Donation.

Your support will help keep this website free for everyone, and will allow us to do more research. Thank you for your support!

Battle of Glendale, VA
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
The seven days' battles in front of Richmond, an outline narrative of the series of engagements which opened at Mechanicsville, near Richmond..., by Edward Alfred Pollard (Correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial), 1862

Report of Henry M. Naglee, brigadier-general, of the part taken by his brigade in the seven days, from June 26 to July 2, 1862, Army of the Potomac, by Henry Morris Naglee, 1863

Union Battle Summary

Glendale, Va., June 30, 1862 - Lee's uncertainty as to McClellan's movements and the destruction of the bridges over the Chickahominy caused the Confederates to remain inactive for 24 hours. But on the morning of the 29th, when it became certain that the Federals were moving toward the James, Longstreet and A.P. Hill crossed the Chickahominy at New bridge, passed within sight of Richmond, and that night went into bivouac within striking distance of the center of the retreating column. The next morning Jackson crossed farther down and followed directly upon McClellan's rear. Magruder moved down from Savage Station between the swamp and the Chickahominy to effect a junction with Jackson, and Huger was sent along the Charles City road. Holmes, who was stationed at Fort Darling on the south side of the James, was ordered to cross over with his division to the north bank, where he was joined by Wise's command and proceeded down the Osborne pike to strike the line of retreat at Malvern hill. Thus the entire Confederate force about Richmond was bent upon the capture or annihilation of McClellan's army.

About 10 a.m. on the 30th the enemy appeared at Brackett's ford and tried to rebuild the bridge, but he was repulsed by Slocum's division and part of Hexamer's battery. At noon Jackson's advance reached White Oak bridge, which he found destroyed and the approaches guarded by Smith's division with several pieces of artillery, under the command of Capt. Ayers. An attempt was made to repair the bridge, but the severe fire drove the workmen away. Jackson then placed 31 guns in position and opened a terrific cannonade, forcing Smith to fall back a short distance and form a new line. D.H. Hill then sent over Munford's cavalry and some skirmishers, but they were driven back across the stream by the fire of Ayers' guns, which had been placed under cover of a wood. The enemy continued his artillery firing until after dark, but made no further effort to cross the creek. In his report Jackson says: "A heavy cannonading in front announced the engagement of Gen. Longstreet at Frazier's farm and made me eager to press forward; but the marshy character of the soil, the destruction of the bridge, and the strong position of the enemy for defending the passage prevented my advancing until the following morning."

South of the White Oak swamp, at a place called Glendale, several roads came together, the junction being known as Charles City or New Market cross-roads. The Long bridge road ran nearly east, the Charles City road northwest toward Richmond, the New Market road southwest and the Quaker road south toward Malvern hill. It was at this point that Lee hoped to strike a telling blow on McClellan's right flank. McClellan realized the danger that threatened him there and disposed his forces to guard against an attack or to meet it if it came. Franklin, with the divisions of Smith and Richardson and Naglee's brigade of Peck's division, was charged with the defense of the roads leading to White Oak bridge; Slocum held the ground between Franklin and the Charles City road; Kearny's division was placed between the Charles City and New Market roads; McCall's division was on the left and front of Kearny; Hooker, with Thompson's and Kirby's batteries, was in the rear of McCall, his left extending to the Quaker road; Sedgwick's division was stationed at Nelson's farm in the rear of Kearny and McCall; Porter was at Malvern hill, and Keyes at Turkey bridge. About noon Huger, Mahone's brigade in advance, drove in the Federal pickets on the Charles City road, and about 2:30 p.m. Mahone's advance appeared in the edge of the timber across Brackett's field from Slocum. Seeing that Slocum's line was well protected by fallen trees with the open field in front, Mahone wisely deemed the position too strong to attack and ordered up Moorman's battery to open the engagement. Battery K, 4th U.S., and Battery E, 1st R.I., responded with such spirit that Mahone withdrew his infantry to the shelter of the woods, but continued the artillery fire until late in the evening. This was the beginning of the battle of Glendale - also called Frazier's farm, Nelson's farm, White Oak Swamp, Charles City Cross-roads and New Market Cross-roads.

When Longstreet, over on the New Market road, heard the sound of Huger's artillery he supposed it to be the signal for the general attack and ordered his own batteries to open fire. A little later his infantry advanced in heavy columns and fell upon Seymour's brigade of McCall's division. McCall hurried reinforcements to Seymour in time to prevent his left flank from being turned, but six companies of the 12th Pa., under the command of Col. Taggart, posted some distance in advance of the main line, were cut off and to avoid capture the men fell back in some confusion on Hooker's line, where they were rallied by Taggart and served on Hooker's right, reporting to Hooker for orders. Two German batteries (Diedrich's and Knierim's) were also forced back, and as the disorganized medley of men and horses rushed back upon Hooker it looked for a little while as though the Federal line would break. But Hooker's men stood firm and as the victorious Confederates rushed forward in pursuit they were greeted by a well-directed fire in front and on either flank that sent them flying back to the woods. As they gave way Gen. Grover, with the 1st Mass., followed and at the same time Col. Owen, with the 69th Pa., advanced into the open field on Longstreet's flank. Grover was met by a heavy fire from the enemy's reserves, but he was quickly reinforced by the 26th Pa. and 2nd N.H., and the attack on the left was effectively repulsed. The fight was now transferred to Kearny's front and McCall's right. The enemy, heavily reinforced, made a determined charge upon Randol's battery near the New Market road, and although the heavy charges of canister tore great gaps in the advancing line the Confederates came on with a momentum that was irresistible. The 4th Pa., which was supporting the battery, gave way - all except Co. B - and before the battery could be withdrawn it was overrun by an overwhelming force, the horses killed and the guns overturned. Around the one company that had stood its ground men of other commands rallied and a fierce hand-to-hand encounter ensued, in which bayonets and clubbed muskets were the principal weapons. But the gallant company and its meager support were swept to the rear, followed by a horde of yelling Confederates. McCall's right was now broken and his entire line borne back, with a loss of several pieces of artillery. It was now nearly sunset and since 4 p.m. Kearny had repulsed three attacks on his position. He now formed two lines in the woods on the right of the road and threw Taylor's brigade into the gap caused by McCall's defeat. While engaged in this work he met McCall and asked him to form another line to cooperate with Kearny's men in stopping the rushes of the enemy. There was a slight lull in the battle just then and McCall rode forward to gather some of his men for the new line suggested by Kearny, when in the gathering dusk he fell into the lines of the 47th Va. and was captured. The arrival of Taylor's brigade proved sufficient, however, to hold the enemy in check, and as it was now too dark for another assault the battle ended. Lee's object in bringing on this engagement was to cut McClellan's army in two at the Charles City road and destroy it in detail. Had Slocum not been strong enough to hold back Huger at this point, or if Jackson had been able to force a crossing at White Oak bridge and attack the rear of the retreating column, the result would have been disastrous. Lee had figured confidently on both these possibilities becoming certainties, but both failed and the Army of the Potomac was thereby saved from destruction.

About the time that the battle of Glendale was at its height an attempt was made by Holmes and Wise to turn the Federal rear at Malvern hill. In his report Holmes says: "About 4 o'clock Maj. Meade, of the engineers, rode up and reported that the enemy was retreating in considerable confusion along the road leading over Malvern hill. * * * I accordingly at once directed my chief of artillery, Col. Deshler, to proceed to the point indicated, some 2 miles down the river road, with three sections, of 2 rifled guns each, selected from the different batteries, and dispatched the 30th Va. regiment, Col. Harrison commanding, of Walker's brigade, as a supporting force. Soon afterward, feeling solicitous for the safety of this detachment, I put the remainder of the division in motion for the same point and proceeded to reconnoiter the ground in person." On his way to the position selected Holmes met Lee, who approved of the movement, and as the forces of Holmes and Wise numbered about 7,000 men, he directed that the batteries at once open fire on the Federal position. Sykes' division had reached Malvern hill about 11 a.m. and had taken a position to guard the approaches in front. Part of Buchanan's brigade occupied a grove of pines on the right, the remainder of it supporting Weed's battery; Lovell's brigade prolonged the line to the left, covering the guns of Edwards', Smead's, Carlisle's and Voegelee's batteries; Warren's brigade was in the valley to the left of Lovell to watch the river road. It was against this line that Holmes opened fire, but before he could get his artillery fairly at work the Union batteries were playing on his guns, while a gunboat in the river began dropping huge shells among his infantry. Sykes reports that "The concentrated fire of our artillery smashed his batteries to pieces, compelled him to leave two guns and six caissons on the ground, and drove his infantry and cavalry ignominiously in retreat. He was not again heard from in that direction."

Source: The Union Army, Volume 5, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


Copyright 2010-2011 by
A Division of