By Victor Vignola
The bloody two-day battle was fought on the doorstep of the Confederate capital. It was the first major combat in the Eastern Theater since Bull Run/Manassas almost a year earlier, left more than 11,000 casualties in its wake, and cost the primary Southern field army its commander. The possession of Richmond hung in its balance. Yet, almost nothing has been written about Seven Pines/Fair Oaks. Victor Vignola’s Contrasts in Command: The Battle of Fair Oaks, May 31–June 1, 1862, which focuses primarily on the Fair Oaks portion of the battle, is a major contribution to the historiography of the war.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie (November 9, 2023)
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan marched his Army of the Potomac up the Virginia Peninsula during the early spring of 1862 and placed his inexperienced IV Corps at the tip of the spear south of the flood-prone Chickahominy River. McClellan’s opponent Joe Johnston took the opportunity to strike and crafted an overly complex attack plan for his Virginia army to crush the exposed corps. A series of bungled marches, piecemeal attacks, and a lack of assertive leadership doomed the Southern plan. One of the wounded late in the day on May 31 was Johnston, whose injury led to the appointment of Robert E. Lee to take his place—a decision that changed the course of the entire Civil War.
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