Media Relations Officer, Public Affairs Office
July 12, 2012
In the summer of 1862, two great armies contended for control of Richmond, the Confederate capital. The 60,000 Soldiers of General Joseph Johnston’s Army of Northern Virginia stood between Richmond and the 105,000-man Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George McClellan. The commanders of both armies had been criticized for their perceived lack of aggressiveness. President Lincoln famously wrote:
In March, 1862, after months of prodding, McClellan launched the Peninsula Campaign, which was an attempt to capture Richmond by maneuvering northwest along the Virginia Peninsula. McClellan’s early efforts were met with success. Rather than engage in pitched battle against a numerically superior foe, Johnston slowly retreated, agitating both the Confederate president and newspapers. Johnston hoped to find favorable ground from which he could isolate a portion of the enemy forces and negate his numerical superiority, but pressure mounted for him to act.