This Week in the American Civil War – April 30 – May 6, 1862

Major Highlights for the week

Courtesy of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

Wednesday April 30, 1862

As the most active month in the war to date ended, Confederate Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson left Elk Run near Swift Run Gap in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and headed for Staunton and what would become the major part of the famed Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Thursday May 1, 1862

Federal Major General Benjamin F. Butler officially took over in New Orleans, beginning a reign of efficiency in sanitary conditions. Elsewhere, Federal Brigadier General James G. Blunt assumed command of the Department of Kansas, and skirmishing occurred at Rapidan Station Va.; near Pulaski, Tenn.; plus operations in northern Alabama around Athens, Mooresville, Limestone Bridge and Elk River.

Friday May 2, 1862

Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard called on the soldiers of the Confederacy to defend Corinth, Miss., from the invading “despoilers of our homes.” Skirmishing occurred at Trevilian’s Depot and Louisa Courthouse, Va.; Litchfield, Ark.; and Deep Gully on the Trenton Road, N.C. Edward Stanly was appointed Federal military governor of North Carolina. 

Saturday May 3, 1862

Faced by overwhelming numbers, giant siege guns and a threat from more federals to the north on the Rappahannock River, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston withdrew his Confederate army from Yorktown on the Virginia Peninsula before Major General George B. McClellan could mount his major bombardment. The Confederates pulled back through Williamsburg toward Richmond. Meanwhile, in the West, Major General Henry W. Halleck told Washington that he was personally leaving Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., and that his army would be in front of Corinth, Miss., by the night of May 4.

Sunday May 4, 1862

The Army of the Potomac entered Yorktown, Va., following the Confederate evacuation, though brief skirmishes broke out near Williamsburg as forward units of the Federals battled with retiring Confederates. Elsewhere, more skirmishing occurred at Farmington Heights, Miss., as Major General Henry W. Halleck’s forces closed in towards Corinth.

Monday May 5, 1862


A sharp engagement broke out just east of the old capital of Williamsburg, Va., as advancing units of Major General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac clash with rearguard divisions of Confederate General Joseph B. Johnston’s forces. There was heavy fighting for a line of defensive redoubts built earlier by Confederate Major General John B. Magruder’s forces. The Federals were unsuccessful at first, but eventually they managed to occupy a part of the line. In the evening the last of the Southerners pulled out as Johnston’s army continued its retreat towards Richmond. Federal forces engaged amounted to approximately 40,000 to the Confederate’s 31,000. Losses sustained were 456 Federals killed, 1,410 wounded and 373 missing for 2239; Confederates sustained 1570 killed and wounded with 133 missing for a total of 1,703 – heavy casualties for what was a delaying and probing action.

Tuesday May 6, 1862

Union forces occupied Williamsburg, Va., close behind the retiring enemy on the Peninsula. Confederate Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops arrived in Staunton, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley marking the beginning of the main portion of his famous “Valley Campaign.” Near Corinth, Miss., Major General Henry W. Halleck’s advance from Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., decelerated and became more of a siege than an offensive. Late in the evening, President Abraham Lincoln and his party disembarked at Fort Monroe, Va.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 30-May 6, 1862 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Siege and Battle of Yorktown, Virginia as part of McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Moved from Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. to Corinth, Miss.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Murfreesboro, Tenn.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Benton Barracks, Missouri.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Minn., with the exception of companies B, C and D which were detached for garrison duty elsewhere. Company B at Fort Ridgely, Minn., Company C at Fort Ripley, Minn., and Company D at Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory. The detached companies would serve in their outposts until November 1862.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Benton Barracks, Missouri.

1st United States Sharpshooters, Company I – Moved from Washington, D.C. to the Peninsula Campaign near Yorktown, Va.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty at Falmouth, Virginia.

About civilwarweek

Member - Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, Civil War reenactor and historian since 1993, holds Bachelor's Degree in History from Concordia University-St. Paul, currently pursuing Master's Degree in History at St. Cloud State University and is author of the forthcoming book, "Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man's Journey through the Civil War."
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