Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Peninsular Campaign

Peninsula Campaign marker W-37 outside of Williamsburg, VAMarker No. W-37
James City County, VA

Marker Text: During the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, both Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan led their armies west toward Richmond on this road. Johnston evacuated Yorktown on 3-4 May and withdrew up the Peninsula, with McClellan in pursuit. On 5 May, two Federal divisions clashed with the Confederate rear guard east of Williamsburg in a bloody but indecisive battle. Johnston's army continued its march west and on 6-7 May eluded McClellan's forces at Eltham's Landing on the York River opposite West Point. By mid-month the Confederates were secure behind the Richmond defenses.

Location: Marker is grouped with marker W-42 (Quarterpath Road) on Route 60 at eastern entrance to Williamsburg. Marker is in front of hotel. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1998.

  During the last month or so I have been concentrating on U.S. Civil War historical markers located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia related to Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson's Valley Campaign. Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign was directly related to the Peninsular Campaign being conducted by Union Major General George B. McClellan in eastern Virginia. Jackson was attempting to prevent Union troops from being sent to aid McClellan in his planned attack on Richmond.

  The Peninsula Campaign of 1862 was probably the single most ambitious Union operation of the American Civil War. McClellan was hoping to outflank strong Confederate defenses in northern Virginia, an army over 100,000 men strong would be transported by sea to the Peninsula between the James and York Rivers, to the east of the Confederate capitol of Richmond. By bring his army up the Peninsula, McClellan could avoid facing an entrenched Confederate army in northern Virginia. It was commonly believed if the Union could capture the Confederate Capital Richmond, they could bring an end to the war.

Peninsula Campaign marker W-37 along Route 60 in James City Co., VA

Photo looks west toward Williamsburg on U.S. Route 60.  Click any photo to enlarge. 

  I have taken probably fifty to sixty markers, maybe more, related to the Peninsular Campaign and since it was a large military operation on both sides, I have had a difficult time trying to figure out how to present them on my blog. I have decided I will not try to post them all on my blog during what is now the one hundred and fifth anniversary of this campaign. I will only attempt to select markers that will give the reader an understanding of the events in general and their historical significance.

  Union General McClellan troops were frequently met with small Confederate forces, but failed to take advantage of these occasions believing they faced far greater numbers. Today's marker is located east of Williamsburg, VA along U.S. Route 60, which was at the time the main road along the Peninsula leading to Richmond and many military engagements occurred along this road. Parts of the two armies clasped here on May 5, 1862. There is another marker related the Battle of Williamsburg, which I will post later. The Peninsular Campaign and the following Seven Days Battle at the end of June and early July covers a large area with many battles and military engagements, I will at best be able to give you brief glimpses of the campaign and hopefully on occasion pull the elements together.

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