A Union offensive near the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va., triggers fierce fighting May 31, 1862, at the Battle of Seven Pines just eight miles east of that city.
Confederates defending Richmond under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attack two Federal units south of Virginias Chickahominy River. The assaults push Union troops back and mark the start of heavy casualties.
Fighting rages as more troops on each side join the fray. Johnston is seriously wounded before the battle ends June 1. This fight ends inconclusively for both sides with more than 13,700 casualties.
But significantly, it marks the rise of Gen. Robert E. Lee to the top of the Confederate command soon after Johnston is wounded.
The battle will mark a turning point as Confederate fighters dash the hopes of Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of seizing Richmond. And it wont be Johnston but the pugnacious Lee who will save Richmond and force McClellan to retreat in the fighting just ahead.