George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac was a ‘corporate’ general, strong on mass man-management and logistics but short on military vision. The Peninsula campaign was designed to showcase his strengths but ended by ruthlessly exposing his shortcomings when pitted against the Confederate commander in northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee. Landing at Fort Monroe with 50,000 men (rapidly swelling to 120,000), McClellan laid siege to Yorktown for ten days before finding it abruptly abandoned. The army’s advance forces engaged in their first pitched battle at Williamsburg, which proved inconclusive. Successive naval operations were then launched, first on the York River, landing opposite West Point. On the James River, a flotilla closed on Richmond before being repulsed by the Fort batteries at Drewry’s Bluff. By now reinforcements had brought the Confederacy to near parity, and their commander, General Johnston, counterattacked. Seven Pines was another indecisive encounter: but Johnston’s injury would bring Robert E. Lee the Confederate command.
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