Battle of Gaines Mill
June 27, 1862




The Battle of Chickahominy River was the name given by the Confederates to the battle of Gaines' Mill. This is an odd note in the record in that the Union normally named battles after the nearest body of water, and the Confederates after the closest town. It’s funny how these things stick with you, but I can’t find the original source. My easy way of remembering this naming convention is “We whipped their asses at First Manassas” makes much more poetic sense than “We burnt their bunns at First Bull Run.”

This battle is also referred to as "Cold Harbor" in some of the original records, although that name is generally given now for the much more famous battle on May 31, through June 12, 1864.


At this battle the Georgia 49th was again engaged. At 3:00 a. m. Porter's (U.S.) corps was on the march six miles down river to an even more favorable position, east of Powhite Creek. After sunrise Hill's Light Division again led off the advance toward the previous day's Union positions. Along Beaver Dam Creek, however, they found only skirmishers left behind by Porter and quickly scattered them. Following after Porter, Hill's men moved down along the Chickahominy, encountering the first Federal resistance at Gaines Mill. From 12:30 to 2:00 p. m. Hill's men struggled before forcing their way across Powhite Creek. Expecting to soon be joined by the divisions of D. H. Hill, Longstreet, and Jackson, approaching on a northerly march around Porter's right toward Cold Harbor, Hill again forced a desperate attempt to break the Federal lines with his green division. Porter's army held strong positions on high ground east of the creek, a swampy mire called Boatswain Swamp between them and their pursuers. Anderson's young Georgia brigade again found itself in the midst of the fighting, which Hill described thusly: "My division was . . . engaged [a] full two hours before assistance was received. We failed to carry the enemy's lines, but paved the way for the successful attacks afterward."

The successful advance to which he referred came after 4:00 p. m. when Longstreet took up positions to Hill's right and Jackson and D. H. Hill approached from the left. The confederates attacked across ravines, fields, and swamps, being gallantly led by Lieutenant Colonel Manning. In the several assaults against the enemy's strongly fortified positions, John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade and troops of George E. Pickett broke through the Federal line about dark, but were unable to hold the position.

At dusk, the Confederates finally mounted a coordinated assault that broke Porter’s line and drove his soldiers back toward the river. The Federals retreated across the river during the night. Defeat at Gaines’ Mill convinced McClellan to abandon his advance on Richmond and begin the retreat to James River. Gaines’ Mill saved Richmond for the Confederacy in 1862.

The Georgia Forty-ninth sustained a loss of four killed and twenty wounded. Total casualties for the day were U.S. 6,800 and C.S. 8,700.