What is today referred to as the Peninsular Campaign was when the American Civil War was going on; it was an attempt that was unsuccessful by the Union army as they advanced towards Richmond. The Peninsular Campaign started in April 1862, this was after General George B. McClellan decided to move his soldiers that consisted of about 110,000 men, and the troops were moved in an area that is between James and the York rivers. General McClellan response was prompted by pressure exerted to him by President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln in the previous year during the Battle of Bull Run, urged his generals to swiftly act and prepare their soldiers against the Confederate forces who were from Potomac, and they could be well prepared for an attack on Richmond, which was the then capital for the Confederate (Dougherty, 30).
General McClellan prepared a plan for the campaign which had its merits: the army he commanded would advance in the war as they were protected by the Union gunboats which guarded them, this he thought would work in weakening the strong defense of the Richmond troops (Gallagher, 77). The campaign plan had its weaknesses: it would be difficult to undertake joint maneuvers especially with the movement of a huge force troop is to be undertaken; conducting of operations that were combined was to be very difficult.
Even though there were serious weaknesses to the plan, General McClellan decided to lead his troops in the month of April of 1862, they went ashore below Yorktown and within a month’s time they were able to capture the town. The Confederate general who was in charge in Richmond was General Joseph Johnston; he decided to move a lot of the confederate forces south so as to ensure that he defend Richmond (Gallagher, 56). He sent troops down in the peninsular so as to halt the advance of General McClellan's army; he ensured that the forces he sent were almost the same as those of McClellan. General McClellan also though that General Irvin McDowell would come to his aid and assist him with his force of 40,000 soldiers. This was not to happen as President Jefferson Davis advised General Robert Lee to send General Stonewall Jackson to Shenandoah Valley; this was an act which caused the 40,000 soldiers of General McDowell to be diverted.
General Johnston from the Confederate decided to attack McClellan at Fair Oaks during the end of the Month of May and at the beginning of June in 1862, this is a place which is a small distance east of Richmond. The fighting that ensued was huge and led to the wounding of General Johnston and some of his soldiers and they were pushed in the direction of Richmond. This prompted President Davis to act, he commanded the Confederate troops to be under General Lee, and he also made a plan which led to him attacking McClellan.
This led to a battle which in Seven Days from June 26th to July 2nd of 1862), whereby General Lee used his 85,000 soldiers to fight General McClellan's 100,000 force (Miller, 50). The battle was aggressively fought on both sides but due to a good plan by General Lee they caused heavy casualties on General McClellan troops and led to the authorities in Washington to order the campaign to be halted due to their troops being heavily weakened. The army retreated to Union base and this meant that the campaign had ended and McClellan’s troops failed.
Wilderness Campaign of 1864
The Battle of the Wilderness was a battle that was fought in a region between the Orange County and Spotsylvania the area is expansive and has a huge thicket and very big trees. Due to its bushy environment it is the reason as to why the battle was referred to as the Battle of the Wilderness, the area is approximately 10 miles of Fredericksburg in Virginia. The battle was very savage as it led to a high mortality as huge numbers of soldiers were lost in this war. The battle was between the Union forces which were commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant and the Confederate Army that was led by a seasoned soldier, General Robert E. Lee. The battle took place from 5th May to 7th May of 1864.
With a surge in the number of troops by the Union as compared to the Confederate troops it led to the feeling that the Union troops could now be in a position to dominate the Confederates troops. The beginning of the Battle of The Wilderness was a plan that was developed by General Grant; he later decided to attack the confederates with the use of the Union army which he commanded. General Grant was fighting against General Robert Lee who was an experienced general of Northern Virginia. They begun by sending on 5th May, over 100,000 Union soldiers to fight against General Lee's army which had less than 70,000. This led to a loss of over 18,000 of General Grant’s soldiers while they were fighting, but Grant even with the huge loss ordered his troops through Meade to continue fighting and head to Spotsylvania Court House. But it did not bring better results as it led to other 14,000 losing their lives while in action by May 18. This did not discourage General Grant but he persevered, He continued fighting General Lee's army but it also led to a loss of an additional 13,000 men who died while in action between June 3rd and 12th (Cannan, 25).
The huge losses on the troops, was a cause of huge shock in Washington, but General Grant felt that the strategy he had set for the campaign was working despite the huge losses. General Grant could afford reinforcements from the huge Union army, but General Lee could not afford any more reinforcement. Although the union army suffered huge casualties, they still continued in their campaign to capture Richmond and the campaign continued to Spotsylvania.
Similarities between Peninsular Campaign of 1862 and Wilderness Campaign of 1864
In both campaigns it was a conflict between the Confederate and the Union Armies, another similarity in the campaigns is that in both campaigns the Union attempted to capture Richmond. Also General Lee was involved in both campaigns also the Union always had huge number of troops and they in both instances suffered huge casualties compared to the Confederates as they lost most soldiers.