To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign

Overview

The Peninsula campaign of 1862 was the largest campaign of the Civil War and also one of the bloodiest. Of the 250,000 men who fought in it, only a fraction had ever been in battle before, and one in four was killed, wounded, or missing by the time the fighting ended. The operation was General George McClellan's grand scheme to march up the Virginia Peninsula and take the Confederate capital. For three months McClellan battled his way toward Richmond, but then Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate forces....
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Overview

The Peninsula campaign of 1862 was the largest campaign of the Civil War and also one of the bloodiest. Of the 250,000 men who fought in it, only a fraction had ever been in battle before, and one in four was killed, wounded, or missing by the time the fighting ended. The operation was General George McClellan's grand scheme to march up the Virginia Peninsula and take the Confederate capital. For three months McClellan battled his way toward Richmond, but then Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate forces. In seven days, by splitting his army, Lee drove the cautious McClellan out, thereby changing the course, if not the outcome, of the war. Intelligent and well researched, To the Gates of Richmond presents an unforgettable picture of men in battle.

The first full-length account ever written of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862--the largest military offensive of the Civil War. The campaign was Union General George McClellan's grand scheme to advance up the Virginia Peninsula and destroy the Rebel army in its own capital. But his plans fell apart at the gates of Richmond.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sears complements his 1988 biography of George McClellan with this definitive analysis of the general's principal campaign. McClellan's grand plan was to land an army at Yorktown, move up the Virginia peninsula toward Richmond, and fight a decisive battle somewhere near the Confederate capital, thereby ending the Civil War while it was still a rebellion instead of a revolution. The strategy failed in part because of McClellan's persistent exaggerations of Confederate strength, but also because under his command the Federals fought piecemeal. The Confederates were only marginally more successful at concentrating their forces, but Sears credits their leaders, especially Lee, as better able to learn from experience. Confederate victory on the Peninsula meant the Civil War would continue. The campaign's heavy casualties indicated the kind of war it would be. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This companion to Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam LJ 5/15/83 continues the author's narrative of the fortunes of the Army of the Potomac and its leader, General George B. McClellan. Sears's compelling Civil War chronicles rival those of the late Bruce Catton, and this work resonates with authority derived from a thorough knowledge of McClellan and his adversaries and immediacy achieved by extensive use of eyewitness accounts gleaned from the reminiscences of combatants on both sides. Lucid maps, accurate tables of command, and a comprehensive bibliography all contribute to the book's usefulness. Those reading it may also want to consult Richard Wheeler's Sword over Richmond LJ 4/1/86 for other eyewitness accounts and William C. Davis's The Guns of '62 LJ 2/15/82 for a superb photographic record of the campaign. Recommended for most libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.--Lawrence E. Ellis, Broward Community Coll. Lib., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Kirkus Reviews
In George B. McClellan (1988) and his work editing the papers of the Union general, Sears established himself as the critical but indispensable authority on flawed "Little Mac." Now, in a stirring prequel to Landscape Turned Red (1983), his superb account of the Battle of Antietam, the author reaffirms his mastery of historical narrative. In March 1862, the egotistical but timorous McClellan was prodded by Lincoln into finally launching the first major offensive by the Army of the Potomac. Instead of marching directly overland from Washington, McClellan used Federal sea power to advance on Richmond by way of the peninsula between the York and James Rivers. The "Grand Campaign," however, soon belied its creator's Napoleonic pretensions by becoming a three-and-a-half-month nightmare of feints and pitched battles, ultimately engaging up to a combined quarter-million men on both sides and leaving one of every four men dead, wounded, or missing. Using hundreds of eyewitness accounts, Sears demonstrates how the most creative use of military technology (ironclad warships, 200-pounder rifled cannon, battlefield telegraph, and aerial reconnaissance) existed side by side with the most appalling mismanagement (Stonewall Jackson's uncharacteristic lethargy; McClellan's mistaken belief that the numerically inferior rebels possessed a two-to-one manpower advantage; out-of-sync attacks by both Confederate and Union generals). Above all, though, Sears casts the campaign as a clash of wits and wills between McClellan—whom he accuses of losing "the courage to command"—and Robert E. Lee—who, upon succeeding the wounded Joseph E. Johnson as head of the Army of Northern Virginia, seized theinitiative, repulsed the assault in the series of "Seven Days" battles, and began his long journey into legend. An authoritative, ironic, and stirring addition to Civil War annals. (Two 16-page b&w photo inserts.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395701010
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/10/1994
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

STEPHEN W. SEARS is the author of many award-winning books on the Civil War, including Gettysburg and Landscape Turned Red. The New York Times Book Review has called him "arguably the preeminent living historian of the war's eastern theater." He is a former editor for American Heritage.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Part I The Grand Campaign 1
1. Seven Days to Decision 3
2. Stride of a Giant 21
3. Siege 40
Part II Enemy at the Gates 63
4. A Fighting Retreat 65
5. March to the Chickahominy 87
6. Battle at the Seven Pines 111
7. Lee Takes Command 146
Part III The Seven Days 179
8. "Stonewall Is Behind Them!" 181
9. Gaines's Mill 210
10. The Flight 249
11. Opportunity at Glendale 277
12. The Guns of Malvern Hill 308
13. Richmond Delivered 337
Appendix I The Armies at Yorktown 359
Appendix II The Armies at Seven Pines 369
Appendix III The Armies in the Seven Days 379
Acknowledgments 393
Notes 395
Bibliography 437
Index 451
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