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SOME HANOVER PLACES FROM THE SEVEN DAYS BATTLES
The home of ardent secessionist (and famed agricultural scientist) Edmund Ruffin off River Road, Mrs. Robert E. Lee took up residence there as the Union army approached Richmond. When Federal troops took possession of that property, she was escorted through the Union lines across Meadow Bridge and into Confederate lines with great ceremony on June 10. Historian Stephen W. Sears describes the incident in his book “To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign”: “On June 10, in a plantation carriage flying a makeshift white flag from its whip stand, Mrs. General Lee was brought to McClellan, who greeted her with due ceremony and sent her on her way with an escort of well-turned-out cavalry from the headquarters guard. She was driven across Meadow Bridge between the two armies and into the Confederate lines, where she was welcomed by her husband and cheered by his troops.”
What is known as the “battle of Hanover Courthouse” actually took place near Peake’s on May 27, 1862. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry passed by the historic Courthouse on their famous ‘ride around McClellan’ a couple of weeks later.
Stuart assembled the last of his cavalrymen at Kilby’s Station, the modern-day location of the CSX railroad tracks just north of Elmont Elementary School. He rode west of Ashland and turned right onto what is now Independence Road and then onto what is now Blunt’s Bridge Road. Stuart’s command included men from Hanover County who were familiar with the local roads.
Hickory Hill Road
This is perhaps the best-preserved portion of the route that Stuart’s cavalrymen followed their famous three-day, 100-mile ride around McClellan’s army. You can follow the route much as it existed during Stuart’s day; go north of Ashland along Rt. 1 and turn right onto Ellett’s Crossing Road, then make a right turn onto Hickory Hill Road.
It was near here, in an area known as Linney’s Corner, that Captain William Latane of the 9th Virginia Cavalry became the only Confederate to fall during the J.E.B. Stuart’s ride around the Union army.
When Stuart arrived here on June 13, he faced the decision of whether to go back he had come or continue all the way around the Union army – he chose the latter, and rode into history.
This two-room log house off Gum Tree Road, one of the last remaining in the County, was visited by Stonewall Jackson. According to the Virginia Historical Marker, the woman who lived there provided him a pitcher from which to drink. Upon learning that it was Jackson, she thereafter refused to allow anyone else to drink from the pitcher and said she would give it to her children as a memento of his visit.
The oldest and best-preserved frame Colonial church in Virginia (1729), its worshippers have included Patrick Henry, Dolley Madison and Henry Clay. Stonewall Jackson’s men were here on June 26 en route to Mechanicsville.
At the time of the Seven Days Battles, Mechanicsville was, according to Sears, “a modest crossroads village…consisting of half a dozen shops and stables and two blacksmiths (this “superiority in mechanic arts”, a Yankee soldier decided, explained the village’s inflated name) and an equal number of houses. In a grove of oaks nearby was a beer garden where in better times Richmonders enjoyed bucolic outings…”
Beaver Dam Creek Park
This small Richmond National Battlefield Park is what’s left of the site of Lee’s first attack in the Seven Days Battles. It took place on June 26, 1862. The attack failed at heavy cost of life for the Confederates, but the Union forces withdrew during the night as they learned of Stonewall Jackson’s approach on their right rear.
Walnut Grove Church
Lee and Jackson met here on June 27 to discuss the battle plan prior to the assault at Gaines Mill. According to Sears’ book, “Lee and Jackson dismounted and walked together through the churchyard, too distant for any on their staffs to hear what was said.”
Lee took this historic home as his field headquarters during the battle of Gaines Mill.
This was the site of the biggest battle among the Seven Days, and Lee’s first battlefield victory, changing the course of the war. After about nine hours of fighting, on the evening of June 27, Lee’s army broke the Union line at dusk and drove the Federals back across the Chickahominy River. The two armies lost more than 15,200 men. Veterans later insisted that the volume of firing at Gaines’ Mill was the worst they experienced.