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Battle of Beaver Dam Creek, Mechanicsville, Hanover County, VA

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Battle of Beaver Dam Creek, Mechanicsville, Hanover County, VA

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Summary

Significance: 1) Union Maj. Gen. Fitz-John Porter's Fifth Army Corps held a partially entrenched line north of the Chickahominy River behind Beaver Dam Creek with Brig. Gen. McCall's Division, about 9,500 men in all. The rest of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, was concentrated south of the river.

2) On June 26, Gen. Robert E. Lee, following an intricate plan, set his various columns in motion against the Federal army north of the river. Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and 11,000 soldiers marched from their bivouac near Ashland at an early hour with orders to find and outflank Porter's position. Jackson was to open the battle but his column moved slowly due to harassement by Union cavalrymen.

3) A Confederate brigade led by Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch crossed the Chickahominy River at Half Sink about 10 A.M. and skirmished with Federal cavalrymen south along the road from Poindexters toward Shady Grove Church.

4) About 2 P.M., Maj. Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill grew impatient waiting to hear Jackson's guns and sent his five brigades across the river at the Meadow Bridges. The soldiers marched to near Shady Grove Church and then turned south toward Mechanicsville.

5) About 3. P.M., Confederate Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Division of Jackson's command diverged south at McKenzie's Corner. Jackson continued with his main force east to Oak Forest where he conferred with Lee's cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. Jackson's column was four hours late and still far from the battlefield. Neither officer had communicated with Gen. Lee, but it was clear that his ambitious plan had gone awry.

6) A. P. Hill's advance uncovered the Mechanicsville Road, allowing Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill, followed by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet, with 20,000 infantrymen to cross the river on the Mechanicsville Bridge. The crossing was supported by heavy guns firing from the Chickahominy Bluffs. D. H. Hill deployed with his right flank at the river and advanced against the Federal position.

7) Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill deployed four brigades led by Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Anderson, Brig. Gen. James J. Archer, Brig. Gen. Charles W. Field, and Brig. Gen. William D. Pender astride the Old Church Road and launched a series of piecemeal attacks that made little headway against massed Federal artillery and musketry. Only Anderson's men made it to the east bank of Beaver Dam Creek where they huddled under cover until darkness allowed them to get back to their own lines.

8) Confederate batteries supported D. H. Hill's attack with an enfilading fire from the bluffs near Dr. Friend's house.

9) Maj. Gen. R. S. Ewell's column was diverted east at Shady Grove Church to avoid mixing with Branch's and A. P. Hill's troops and marched toward the sound of the guns, seeking a road to reach the Federal right flank.

10) Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter reinforced his line with two brigades of Morell's Division, bringing his strength to about 14,000 men. These troops allowed Porter to extend his right flank back along the creek to repulse a tentative probe by Ewell's vanguard late in the day on the Richardson farm.

11) Brig. Gen. Roswell S. Ripley's brigade of D. H. Hill's command attacked in support of Pender's brigade but all bogged down in the swampy creek and suffered heavy losses. Fighting continued until after dark across a one-mile front. The Confederate army suffered some 1,300 casualties during the day, while the Federals lost about 400 men and claimed a one-sided victory.

12) Delayed repeatedly by obstacles in the road and skirmishing with Federal cavalry, Jackson's listless column reached Hundley's Corner at nightfall and went into camp, having contributed little to the battle. Lee was disappointed in the day's result but laid plans to continue the operation on June 27.

Survey number: HALS VA-31
Building/structure dates: ca. 1862 Initial Construction

date_range

Date

1861 - 1865
person

Contributors

Historic American Landscapes Survey, creator
Porter, Fitz-John
McCall
McClellan, George B.
Lee, Robert E.
Jackson, Thomas J. "Stonewall"
Branch, Lawrence
Hill, Ambrose Powell
Ewell, Richard S.
Stuart, J.E.B.
Hill, Daniel H.
Longstreet, James
Anderson, Joseph R.
Archer, James J.
Field, Charles W.
Pender, William D.
Ripley, Rosewell S.
Stevens, Chris, transmitter
Lieberman, Francine, volunteer
place

Location

Mechanicsville (Hanover County, Va.)37.60876, -77.37331
Google Map of 37.6087561, -77.3733139
create

Source

Library of Congress
copyright

Copyright info

No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/114_habs.html

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