Decisions of the Seven Days
The Sixteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Battles
From June 25 to July 1, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia engaged Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in a series of battles at the end of the Peninsula Campaign that would collectively become known as the Seven Days Battles. Beginning with the fighting at the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek, Lee consistently maneuvered against and attacked McClellan’s Army of the Potomac as it retreated south across the Virginia Peninsula to the James River. At the conclusion of the Battle of Malvern Hill, Lee’s second most costly battle, where McClellan’s strong defensive position of infantry and artillery repelled multiple frontal assaults by Lee’s troops, the Federal army slipped from Lee’s grasp and brought the Seven Days to an end. The Seven Days was a clear Confederate victory that drove the Union army away from the capital at Richmond, began the ascendancy of Robert E. Lee, and commenced a change in the war in the Eastern Theater. It set the stage for the Second Manassas Campaign followed by the Maryland Campaign of 1862.
Decisions of the Seven Days explores the critical decisions made by Confederate and Union commanders during the Seven Days Battles and how these decisions shaped the outcome. Rather than offering a history of the battles, Matt Spruill hones in on a sequence of critical decisions made by commanders on both sides of the contests to provide a blueprint of the Seven Days at its tactical core. Identifying and exploring the critical decisions in this way allows students of the battles to progress from knowledge of what happened to a mature grasp of why events happened.
Complete with maps and a driving tour, Decisions of the Seven Days is an indispensable primer, and readers looking for a concise introduction to the battles can tour this sacred ground—or read about it at their leisure—with key insights into the campaign and a deeper understanding of the Civil War itself.
Decisions of the Seven Days is the ninth in a series of books that will explore the critical decisions of major campaigns and battles of the Civil War.
MATT SPRUILL is a retired U.S. Army colonel and Civil War historian and lecturer. He is the coeditor of the University of Tennessee Press’s Command Decisions in America’s Civil War and the author of nine previously published Civil War books, including Decisions at Stones River, Decisions at Second Manassas, and Decisions at Gettysburg.