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Battle of Oak Grove, VA
in the American Civil War
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
|Oak Grove, Va., June 25, 1862 - Army of the Potomac.
Just at the close of the battle of Fair Oaks on June 1, 1862, Gen.
Robert E. Lee rode upon the field, accompanied by Jefferson Davis, the
president of the Confederacy, and assumed command of the Army of
Northern Virginia. At that time the Federal Army of the Potomac,
commanded by Maj.-Gen. George B. McClellan, was stationed along both
sides of the chickahominy river, the advance being within 6 miles of
Richmond. McClellan had been promised reinforcements, and this, with
the almost impassable condition of the roads and the high stage of the
water in the chickahominy, which had destroyed nearly all the bridges,
caused a delay in getting his army together on the south side of the
river for an offensive movement. Lee promptly took advantage of this
delay to put his army in condition to withstand an attack, or to
assume the offensive if opportunity offered. By June 20 the flood had
abated, new bridges had been constructed, the roads had improved and a
portion of the promised reinforcements had arrived. The Army of the
Potomac was then organized for the final advance on the Confederate
capital as follows: The 2nd corps, commanded by Brig.-Gen. E.V.
Sumner, consisted of two divisions, respectively commanded by Brig.-Gens.
I.B. Richardson and John Sedgwick; the 3rd corps, under command of
Brig.-Gen. S.P. Heintzelman, included the divisions of Brig.-Gens.
Joseph Hooker and Philip Kearny; the 4th corps, commanded by
Brig.-Gen. E.D. Keyes, consisted of the two divisions under command of
Brig.-Gens. D.N. Couch and J.J. Peck; the 5th corps, Brig.-Gen. F.J.
Porter commanding, embraced three divisions under Brig.-Gens. G.W.
Morell, George Sykes and G.A. McCall; the 6th corps, commanded by
Brig.-Gen. W.B. Franklin, included two divisions, commanded by Brig.-Gens.
H.W. Slocum and W.F. Smith. In addition to this infantry force there
were the artillery reserve of five brigades, under the command of Col.
Henry J. Hunt, the cavalry reserve of two brigades, under Brig.-Gen.
P. St. George Cooke, the volunteer engineer brigade of Brig.-Gen. D.P.
Woodbury, and the headquarters guard and escort. Casey's division of
Keyes' corps was on detached duty at the White House, guarding stores
and preparing for the change of base to the James river. Lee's army
was composed of the following commands: Jackson's corps, Maj.-Gen. T.J.
Jackson commanding, including the divisions of Whiting, Jackson and
Ewell; D.H. Hill's division; Magruder's corps, including the divisions
of D.R. Jones, McLaws and Magruder; Longstreet's division; Huger's
division; A.P. Hill's division; Holmes' division the reserve artillery
under Brig.-Gen. W.N. Pendleton, and the cavalry under Brig.-Gen.
J.E.B. Stuart. Various estimates have been made as to the relative
strength of the two armies. Gen. A.S. Webb, who served with McClellan
in the Peninsular campaign, fixes it at 92,500 men of all arms for the
Federal forces and 80,762 for the Confederates.
From Richmond several road led to the Chickahominy river. Running
nearly due north was the Meadow bridge road, which crossed the river
near the Virginia Central railroad. Next was the Mechanicsville pike;
then the Creighton, New Bridge and Williamsburg roads, the last named
running almost due east and crossing the river at Bottom's bridge.
Between the New Bridge and Williamsburg roads ran the Richmond & York
River railroad. Leading toward the southeast were the Charles City and
Darbytown roads, and the Osborne turnpike ran down the bank of the
James river toward the south. Over the region traversed by these roads
between the James and Chickahominy rivers and along the north bank of
the latter stream were fought the Seven Days' battles. On the 25th
Heintzelman, who occupied the line of works ar Fair Oaks and Seven
Pines, was ordered to drive the Confederate pickets from the woods in
his front, preparatory to a general forward movement the next day. At
8 a.m. Hooker's division advanced with Sickles' brigade in the center
on the Williamsburg road, Grover's on the left and Carr's in reserve.
At the same time Kearny on the left and Richardson on the right were
ordered to push forward their pickets. Hooker found himself confronted
by a superior force and sent back for reinforcements. Heintzelman
ordered Birney's brigade of Kearny's division to the front, but just
as Birney reached the field orders were received from Gen. Marcy,
McClellan's chief of staff, directing Hooker to fall back. About 1
p.m. McClellan came to the front and ordered a renewal of the attack.
Again Hooker advanced, this time supported by Palmer's brigade of
Couch's division. De Russy's battery was run forward and opened with
canister to the right and left of the road, forcing the enemy to
retire from the woods and across an open field to another piece of
timber some distance in the rear of his former position, closely
pressed by the infantry who kept up a steady fire as they advanced. A
strong picket line was then placed in the woods evacuated by the
Confederates, but as it was almost dark further operations were
postponed until the next morning. Hooker reported his loss as 28
killed, 262 wounded and 19 missing. This affair is known as the battle
of Oak Grove, King's school-house or the Orchards.
Source: The Union Army, Volume 5, Cyclopedia of Battles,