The final battle of the Seven Days campaign was Malvern Hill. Based on suggestions by others I had heard that the battlefield was generally well preserved, indeed it was. Historically the Confederate troops arrived on the battlefield in what can be described as a less than organised way followed by the attacks being piecemeal. Ironically, so was my arrival on the battlefield. I had a degree of trouble finding the battlefield and then finding the parking area. That said the battlefield was rather rewarding to visit.
As with Gaines’ Mill and other battlefields near Richmond only a portion of the battlefield is protected. However at Malvern Hill a significant proportion is. Further, that protected is in near historical condition.
Above, Confederate artillery looking across to Malvern Hill. The modern West House, built on the original West House on the battlefield in 1862, can be just seen on Malvern Hill. It’s a useful marker. Jackson’s artillery was effectively at 90 degrees left of this house, when viewed from here. This results in the Union gun line turning 90 degrees around the area of the West House. The James River is off, some distance, to the right and obscured.
The Confederate artillery were however deployed piecemeal and suffered to Union counter battery fire.
“Entering the field at the point where our artillery had been posted, I came upon numbers of dead and dying horses, who, with the drivers and gunners, laid in a pile together; their several dismantled guns, their caissons, fired and blown up by the enemy’s balls – all presenting an aspect of desolation and ruin.” John S. Hard, 7th South Carolina Infantry.
I walked from left, through the woods, having started at the remains of the parsonage. In the woods a significant number of Confederate infantry sheltered from the Union artillery. Having walked across behind the Confederate cannon I walked up the the right flank. In this area there was a noticeable, but gentle, slope down from the Confederate guns to a dip that ran across the battlefield where the woods on the left end. From that point the ground rises again to the Union gun line on Malvern Hill.
The photo below is taken around halfway up Malvern Hill around the area of the Slave Cabins which were historically behind me. It marks the forward position of Confederate infantry in their attacks.
It is worth noting that the Confederates were also under bombardment from Union gunboats operating on the James river.
Below, a photo from the Union gun line looking towards the Confederates. This shows the dip on the ground more clearly. The battlefield had both wheat and corn planted in 1862. To the front of the guns is corn. Given the date of the battle the corn would have been reasonably low. It was when I visited in most parts, due to the lack of growth.
Union guns of which there were 30 to 40, deployed across half a mile frontage. One battery, having six 12 pounder Napoleons, (Company A, 5th U.S. artillery) alone fired 1392 rounds of shell and canister.
I always seem to be surprised by a few aspects of each battlefields, Malvern Hill was the short distance between some Union infantry and Confederates. Below, on the right flank of the main Union gun line deployed forward were Union infantry under Couch (left) and Barlow (right). Confederates were around 150 metres away in the woods and Parsonage.