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Chapter 42 - Malvern Hill & The Seven Days Battles Backward

The pards picnicked underneath the shade of the small flat-roofed interpretive shelter, positioned behind where the bulk of the Union artillery parked in 1862 during the Battle of Malvern Hill.

 

They gazed a thousand yards away to the other end of the field of fire,

 

barely able to make out the three cannons marking the inferior Confederate right battery.
Malvern Hill was the seventh day of the Seven Days Battles. The battles had occurred between June 25 and July 1, 1862.

 

On the first day of the Seven Days Battles, McClellan’s men had gotten close enough to Richmond to see the city’s church steeples. They attacked at Oak Grove, where the airport is now. McClellan was trying to move even closer to set up siege guns against the city but failed.

 

On the second day of the Seven Days, Lee went on the offensive and attacked the isolated Federal right flank, north of the Chickahominy River near Mechanicsville at Beaver Dam Creek, causing McClellan to withdraw. This set up the next five days of Lee fighting a retreating Northern army.

 

Pat made sure Hezekiah and Jimmy were properly in the saddle before he mounted. They all took off across the battlefield while Julius and Ann stalled the mobsters with charm.

 

When the reenactors made it to the Confederate side of the battlefield, they picked up the pace and cut over to Willis Church Road.

 

They needed to get to Cold Harbor, and the quickest way was to follow the steps of the Seven Days Battles backward. Leaving the site of the seventh day, the reenactors were well on their way to the site of the sixth, Glendale.

 

Once they were out of view, their trot turned into a cantor, and they followed the tree-lined country road,

 

crossing the small and slow-moving Western Run.

 

Raleigh, with the scare in him, urged his pards to put it into a gallop, going another mile until they made it to the Glendale National Cemetery.

 

For refuge, they entered the two-acre cemetery that interred soldiers from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

 

Riding their horses down the driveway past the POW/MIA flag, they went behind the caretaker’s lodge. The lodge now served as the NPS Glendale/Malvern Hill Visitor Center.

 

Jimmy ran across the lawn, hoping not to be detected, and peered down to the main road.

 

The reenactors rode out of the gate, continuing north, following the high corn along the highway to the Riddell’s shop intersection.

 

This junction of country roads was the major objective for General Lee during the Battle of Glendale. Lee displayed his military genius, planning to have his divisions meet at this crossroads to cut McClellan’s retreating army in half.

 

They turned east onto Charles City Road. . . . On the right side of the road was a Citgo station.

 

The troopers slinked behind the store then got back on the road. They broke into a full gallop, racing past ranch houses with orange daylilies in front and hay fields in the back.

 

The reenactors slowed down to descend the hill to the White Oak Swamp.

 

The half-mile hill and the marshy creek at the bottom proved to be formidable physical barriers for Stonewall Jackson, pursuing the Federal Army on day six of the Seven Days, trying to provide reinforcements at Glendale.

 

They trotted onto the modern highway bridge laid over the black water of White Oak Swamp Creek.

 

“Tie your horses to the historical markers, the keys are in the truck.”

 

They hurried up to Highway 60. Down from the intersection stood another old fire tower.

 

Gordon sped down the road to the Richmond and York River Railroad crossing. . . . The reenactors escaped up the hill to the Savage’s Station battlefield overlook.

 

They piled out of the truck among the historical markers, lining the dirt pull off, telling the story of day five of the Seven Days Battles. The reenactors looked past a farmer’s field down into the gently sloping valley where they could see and hear the constant vroom of Interstate 64.

 

The reenactors packed back into the truck and headed down Grapevine Road. Trumpet creeper bloomed along the roadside, as the men covered the ground of day four of the Seven Days.

 

The reenactors passed the beige, red-tin roofed Trent house that had served as McClellan’s headquarters. In the field surrounding the house, Thaddeus Lowe had launched his balloons for Union aerial reconnaissance.

 

Gordon drove over the Chickahominy River at the site of the corduroy Grapevine Bridge built by the 5th New Hampshire Infantry, where so many Civil War soldiers of both sides had passed.

The Seven Days Battles

The Battle of Malvern Hill

The Battle of Glendale/Frayser's Farm

Glendale National Cemetary

The Battle of Savage's Station