Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Victory Or Withdrawal

The first major battle of the Peninsula Campaign fought on May 5th 1862 was the Battle of Williamsburg.

The Battle of Williamsburg or the Battle of Fort Magruder, was part of the Peninsula Campaign and took place on May 5th 1862. There were about 41,000 Union troops and 32,000 Confederates engaged. The Confederates were in retreat from Yorktown when a Union division commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker ran into their rear near Williamsburg. Confederate General Joseph E Johnston on May 4th 1862 established his rear position in earthen fortifications built by Major General John Bankhead Magruder, which overlooked the junction of two roads.

Hooker conducted a morning attack on May 5th 1862 against Fort Magruder, but was forced back. They were driven by a strong assaults lead by General James Longstreet. In time a division under Brigadier General Philip Kearny arrived to support the Union position and the Confederates fell back to their defenses. While this was going on Brigadier General Winfield Scott Hancock had marched his brigade in behind the Confederate left flank. Longstreet sent Major General D H Hill and Brigadier General Jubal A Early to try to flank Hancock’s men, but they were misdirected and this resulted in great loss.

Having delayed the Union advance, the Confederates left the redoubts during the night and continued their withdrawal toward Richmond. Although the Union claimed a victory, the Confederates saw the battle as a delaying maneuver allowing them to continue their withdrawal. The Union saw losses of 2,283 and the Confederates lost 1,682.

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