July 1862 saw the end of the ‘Seven Days Battle’. This battle saw Lee save Richmond and push back McClellan. But like so many other battles in the American Civil War, it was not decisive and the civil war would continue for nearly another three years.
July 1st: President Lincoln signed a bill introducing Federal income tax of between 3% and 5%.
Lee ordered an attack on a Union position at Malvern Hill, overlooking the James River. Senior Confederate commanders cautioned Lee against this but he ignored their concerns. The attack was a major failure. Communication issues were such that two units led by Longstreet and A P Hill (both of whom had cautioned Lee against the attack) never went into battle despite the fact that both were meant to have played a pivotal role in the attack. The Union force, commanded by McClellan could have launched potentially a devastating counter-attack against the totally disorganised Confederates but McClellan was more concerned about the greater numbers Lee could call on, which could not be matched by the Army of the Potomac. Therefore, there was no counter-offensive and the so-called ‘Seven Day Battle’ ended. The Army of the Potomac lost 1582 dead, 7709 wounded and 5958 missing. The Army of Northern Virginia fared worse: 3000 dead, 15,000 wounded and 1000 missing. McClellan ordered his army to pull back – typical of his cautious approach to a campaign, though he was hampered by poor intelligence – while Richmond was saved, even if Lee had not defeated the Army of the Potomac.
July 2nd: Lincoln called on 300,000 men to volunteer for the Union and to serve for 3 years. McClellan’s army started to pull back to Harrison’s Landing.
July 5th: Congress was already planning for a post-war America. It authorised the building of the first trans-continental railway. Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which was to allow settlers to take up public land in the west to “tame the prairies”.
July 7th: McClellan wrote to Lincoln protesting that he could not be more aggressive in his campaigning because of the President’s order that many of his soldiers be kept in Washington DC to protect the city. McClellan called for more troops: “The rebel army is in our front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions, or by reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot but regard our position as critical.”
July 11th: General Halleck was appointed General-in-Chief of the Federal Armies.
July 13th: Lincoln urged McClellan to start an attack on Richmond.
July 14th: Congress approved the establishment of West Virginia. However, it did not approve Lincoln’s plan to compensate any state that abolished slavery.
July 17th: Lincoln signed the Second Confiscation Act, which granted freedom to slaves who entered Federal jurisdiction.
July 20th: The Union started a determined campaign in Missouri to rid the state of guerrilla groups (such as the ones led by Nathan Bedford Forest and Colonel John Hunt Morgan). Over the next two months over 500 guerrillas were killed, 1800 wounded and 560 were missing. However, the problems caused by these cavalry-based groups were not resolved.
July 22nd: Lincoln presented his Cabinet with his draft emancipation proclamation, which called for the freeing of slaves in states in rebellion against the Union. On this day the North and South also agreed on an exchange of prisoners.
July 29th: The steamer ‘290’ sailed from Liverpool en route to the Portuguese island of Terceira. Here, ‘290’ was equipped and armed to be a commerce raider. ‘290’ was also renamed to the ‘CSS Alabama’ – the most famous Confederate naval vessel of the war.