On this day 150 years ago, Union general George B. McClellan attacked the Confederate rearguard at the Battle of Williamsburg. Having laid siege to Yorktown for weeks, he only took the fort when the Confederates disappeared in the middle of the night. Then, when McClellan finally caught up with them at Williamsburg, neither side gained an advantage, and the Peninsula Campaign ground on toward Richmond.
Today’s battle, by the way, was Confederate general A. P. Hill‘s first combat of the war. Already having been promoted to brigadier general, he fought well enough against his old friend McClellan—Hill had once proposed to the woman who became McClellan’s wife—that he was promoted again.
IMAGE: Kearney at Battle of Williamsburg, 1862. The one-armed Philip Kearney road into battle with his sword in hand and reins in his teeth. Black ink wash by Alfred R. Waud. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)