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Battle of Mechanicsville, 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

Mechanicsville, Va., June 26, 1862 - By a singular coincidence Lee had fixed on the same date as McClellan - June 26 - for an aggressive movement. On the 16th he sent orders to Jackson to mask his withdrawal from the Shenandoah valley, move with all possible speed toward Richmond and strike the Federal right, then on the north bank of the Chickahominy in the vicinity of Mechanicsville. In support of this movement A.P. Hill was to cross the river at Meadow bridge, when it was known that Jackson's advance had passed that point, and move directly on Mechanicsville. As soon as the bridge on the Mechanicsville pike should be uncovered Longstreet and D.H. Hill were to cross there, after which the four commands were to sweep down the north bank driving everything before them. Stuart's cavalry was thrown on the left to guard Jackson's flank. Huger and Magruder, with the artillery reserve, were left to guard Richmond, but under orders to follow McClellan if he should retreat. On the 19th McClellan had sent McCall's division, with five batteries of artillery, to the right to watch the bridges over the Chickahominy. On the morning of the 26th McCall occupied a position with his front along the east side of Beaver Dam creek, his left resting on the Chickahominy and his right extending to the woods north of the road running from Mechanicsville to Bethesda church, Reynolds' brigade on the right, Seymour's on the left, and Meade's, with Kern's and Easton's batteries, in reserve. His position was a strong one as the creek in his front was over waist deep in most places, bordered by swamps, and on the west side of it was an open plain, about half a mile in extent, over which the enemy must advance to the attack. The creek could be crossed by artillery at only two points - the bridge on the Bethesda road and the one at Ellison's mill about a mile below. These bridges were covered by the guns of Cooper's and Smead's batteries, while De Hart's battery was stationed a short distance below the upper bridge in a position to enfilade any line that might attempt to cross the plain in front.

Jackson reached Ashland, 12 miles from Richmond, on the evening of the 25th, and received orders from Lee to move at 3 a.m. on the 26th and turn McCall's right. The march was longer than either he or Lee had anticipated and his progress was delayed by the Union skirmishers. A.P. Hill waited until noon, by which time he supposed that Jackson was in position, and then started to carry out his part of the program. When the head of his column approached Mechanicsville, McCall recalled his infantry and artillery in front of the town, and ordered Meade to move his brigade forward in closer support. At 3 p.m. Hill became impatient, fearing the whole plan would fall to the ground, and ordered his division forward. Two of his brigades were sent to the left to flank a battery, while the other four came into line in front, but they were met by a murderous fire from the Federal batteries that forced the Confederates back with heavy loss. After a time a heavy column was pressed forward on the road to Ellison's mill and a determined attack was made at that point. Again the advancing ranks of the enemy were met by that withering fire of artillery and musketry and again they recoiled. Fearing that an attempt would be made to turn his left flank, McCall sent Col. Harvey, with the 7th Pa. reserves to the extreme left of the line. About sunset Griffin's brigade of Morell's division, with Edwards' battery, arrived on the field and took position on the right, while Martindale's brigade of the same division was sent to the rear and right to guard against any approach of the enemy over the road from Hanover Court-House. Here he learned of Jackson's attempted flank movement and skirmished with his advanced guard until ordered by Porter to retire. The fight lasted until 9 p.m., when Hill, finding that the position could not be carried by direct assault, withdrew his forces from the field, and McCall was ordered to fall back to Gaines' mill. The Union loss at Mechanicsville was 49 killed, 207 wounded and 105 missing. The enemy's loss was included in the reports of the seven days' fighting, but it was estimated at 2,000, mostly in killed and wounded, as very few prisoners were taken during the engagement. Swinton quotes Longstreet as saying the aggregate loss was "between three and four thousand."

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


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