Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Battle For New Orleans

When did Joseph Johnston make his first attack?

On the last day of May 1862, Johnston sent out nearly 50,000 men to attack the Federals in the area that the Confederates called Seven Pines and the Union labeled Fair Oaks. As noted historian Stephen W. Sears claimed, “Few battles ever go entirely as their generals plan them, but seldom does a battle stray so far from plan as Seven Pines.” Johnston planned for twenty-two infantry brigades to attack the Federals that day: instead, thanks to poor planning and confusion, only nine brigades got into action. Those that did arrive fought with a passionate fury, but the results were about what one would expect. The Confederates had 5,002 men killed, wounded, and missing in a day and a half of fighting. Joe Johnston was one of the wounded, struck first by a rifle bullet, then by a fragment from a shell.


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