To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign

To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign

Stephen W. Sears / Nov 20, 2019

To the Gates of Richmond The Peninsula Campaign This is a history of the largest and bloodiest campaign of the American Civil War one in which a quarter of a million men fought and one in four died

  • Title: To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign
  • Author: Stephen W. Sears
  • ISBN: 9780899197906
  • Page: 485
  • Format: Hardcover
  • This is a history of the largest and bloodiest campaign of the American Civil War one in which a quarter of a million men fought, and one in four died.

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      Posted by:Stephen W. Sears
      Published :2019-08-23T10:19:26+00:00

    About "Stephen W. Sears"

      • Stephen W. Sears

        Stephen Ward Sears is an American historian specializing in the American Civil War.A graduate of Lakewood High School and Oberlin College, Sears attended a journalism seminar at Radcliffe Harvard As an author he has concentrated on the military history of the American Civil War, primarily the battles and leaders of the Army of the Potomac He was employed as editor of the Educational Department at the American Heritage Publishing Company.Sears resides in Norwalk, Connecticut.


    1. It really isn’t fair that I read this book – and am now rating it – after having read Allen Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. Stephen Sears’ To the Gates of Richmond, about George McClellan’s failed Peninsula Campaign of 1862, is not a bad book. To the contrary, it is sturdy and dependable, just like the Honda Civic you drove back in high school. But when compared with Guelzo’s bracing new history (and yes, I know, the books were written at different times, about different ba [...]

    2. Never had connected these series of battles together as "Seven Days Battles" before reading this account. One battle outcome and results, and the positioning of different parts of the armies, definitely influenced other subsequent battles. Liked the perspective of the change of leadership from Joe Johnston to Lee that I don't think I understood before. It wasn't really a "done deal" that Lee would command in the field until he was needed, that I wasn't aware of previously. Hadn't known about Gle [...]

    3. I almost gave this two stars, but relented. I heard this was Sears' worst book and my fears were correct. It lacks the narrative punch of his other books and his deft analysis of command relationships is absent. The book is the pinnacle of McClellan bashing, and Sears (who is known to pick his favorites) spares nothing to blast McClellan as an incompetent and arrogant. McClellan here is an idiot who was also a coward of sorts. McClellan's solid grasp of strategy and logistics is barely mentioned [...]

    4. A thorough telling of George McClellan's failed attempt to capture the city of Richmond in 1862 in order to quickly put an end to the Southern rebellion. Steven Sears did an excellent job of introducing the major players on both sides of the conflict and of laying out each of their motivations and strategies during the 5 month long campaign. After reading this book, I have a much better understanding of George McClellan's character and why the Peninsula Campaign ultimately failed. I recommend th [...]

    5. Man, this is dry stuff. It's like reading a box score from an old-time baseball game — lots of names and lots of stats, but you really have to work hard to get the highlights of the contest. I started this book three years ago in anticipation of a trip to the Richmond peninsula. I'm glad I got some of the background I did, before the trip. But after the trip, the unfinished book languished on my night stand for months and months. Finally, I decided to muscle my way to the end.What saddens me m [...]

    6. Stephen Sears delivers an excellent account of the Peninsula Campaign waged by the Army of the Potomac aimed at capturing Richmond in 1862. The plan to use the navy to land and march to Richmond via Williamsburg was one of the most daring operations of the war and provided for two largely untested armies to engage in major combat. It was the highest number of soldiers committed on each sides and while not the bloodiest it comes close in terms of numbers lost. It sealed McCellan's fate and gave r [...]

    7. In 1862, George McClellan was finally persuaded to move on Richmond with the Army of the Potomac. Beloved by his troops, his campaign would be largely undone by his fears and overcautious decisions, which bordered on paranoia and cowardice.Meanwhile, Robert E. Lee would assume command of the Army of Northern Virginia. His grand schemes for the destruction of the Union army would be undone by fatigued and otherwise ineffective lieutenants, poor communication, and worse maps.It was the largest cam [...]

    8. This was the very first book I read on the American Civil War. I read this book in 1994 and since then I haven't stopped buying Civil War books. I have read Sears other 2 books, 'Antietam: Landscape Turned Red' and 'Chancellorsville' and enjoyed them both very much. This book covers the Federals Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and the text flows along smoothly, so much so that I found it hard to put down. The author describes the battles and characters so well that you can see them in front of you. I [...]

    9. Having had a firm memory of the overview Shelby Foote gave of this same campaign, it was interesting to see the differences in their interpretations of the event. For the most part, this book is harsher on the Confederate command and control than Foote was. I would say that Sears is a little bit nicer to Jackson than Foote, but just because Sears tries to give an explanation for Jackson's behavior. It was an enjoyable (well, as enjoyable as the destructions of thousands of lives can be), fast re [...]

    10. The start of the book is its weakest part. Rather than give some background on the armies, there organization, etc, as Sears did in his Chancerlorsville book, he jumps right into the campaign.From there, it is excellent. Sears weaves the politics, personalities, operations, and strategy seamlessly into a narrative. The descriptions of the battles are rich in qoutes from participants. In fact, a strenght of the book is its use of letters and diaries of the participants, especially the privates, N [...]

    11. Excellent book by Sears, which captures the scope, intensity, and tragedy of this campaign. He does an excellent job of pointing out George McClellan’s failures, particularly when he analyzes McClellan’s (view spoiler)[abandonment of seven of his eleven divisions to fight without a commander(hide spoiler)]at the crucial battle of Glendale. My only two complaints with Sears classic book also have to do with Sears coverage of generals whose contributions or lack of them had much to do with the [...]

    12. An excellent account of McClellan's campaign against the Confederate capital of Richmond, from the initial siege of Yorktown to his advance within twenty miles of the city. The action of the Seven Days battles flow smoothly, and maps are provided which clearly show troop dispositions and movements at critical times. I recommend this to anyone looking for a concise (yet sufficiently detailed) account of this particular event. Side note: Although not the goal, this book substantiated two points fo [...]

    13. Somehow in all the literature on the Civil War, the 7 Days and Peninsula Campaign gets buried in all the Gettysburg hype. Sears writes a book that needs to be written and read by every Civil War buff. The early days of the war shape and form the ANV and the AoP. Many early war Generals move on or move out, while others prepare for larger roles they will assume. I have always found Sears to have an extreme anti-McClellan bias, and have felt that he was over the top in his analysis of Mac in other [...]

    14. A riveting and comprehensive account of one of the most significant campaigns of the Civil War. Mr. Sears offers compelling insights into the blurred and incomplete perspectives of the combatants, and he draws a striking contrast between Robert E. Lee's decisiveness and George McClellan's dissembling and self-distancing from critical responsibilities of command. A must read for students of military history.

    15. As always, the author, Stephen Sears, has provided a detailed and thorough history of the effort by the Army of the Potomac to attack Richmond in the spring and summer of 1862. The narrative is captivating and the use of quoted letters by participants, from privates to generals adds much to the story of the battle. Unfortunately, I found the maps provided in the book to be lacking. Specifically, there is no general map of the Peninsula that allows the reader to put the overall advance of the Arm [...]

    16. A strong, well-written history of the war’s largest and most complex campaign. While quite detailed, Sears manages to avoid getting bogged down in minutiae. Sears tells the well-known story of how McClellan, under pressure from Lincoln, advanced toward Richmond but was foiled by a combination of faulty intelligence, Confederate ruses, and, of course, his own over-cautiousness and mistaken belief in his numerical inferiority. Although McClellan was under the impression of battlefield success du [...]

    17. This book, which was published in 1992 and given to me by a teaching colleague, remained on my shelf for many years because I anticipated that it would turn out to be a book aimed at intense Civil War aficionados. And boy, was I correct. If one wishes to gain a very thorough understanding of the 1862 Peninsular Campaign, this is the book for you. The detail that the author goes into is either very impressive, or in my case, sometimes mind-numbing. He breaks the various battles down to the compan [...]

    18. The reason that I gave this a two-star rating is because too much of the book consisted of passages like, this unit marched down this road to this hill. It's dull and uninformative given that there were maps in the text that did a much better job of showing how the units disposed themselves. There was little insight and true analysis beyond anything that I had read elsewhere.One thing the Peninsular Campaign made clear was that, in the Civil War, the army that could assume a good defensive posit [...]

    19. Anything that Sears has written is near the top or at the top of my "must own" list. Chancellorsville and Gettysburg have also received the Sears treatment, and the Antietam "Landscape Turned Red" is the best 1 volume on that campaign. He treats the 7 days battles with equal vigor making a wonderful read.

    20. George B. McClellan's massive 1862 campaign to capture Richmond resulted in a series of pitched battles, lots of maneuvering and the paranoid and vainglorious "Young Napoleon" ultimately skedaddling with his tail between his legs. Stephen Sears is, to me, the most dependably excellent Civil War writer out there (and I mean "writer," not just "historian"). He writes well, clearly and knowledgably. That said, this isn't his best work. It doesn't have quite the zip and majesty of, say, "Chancellors [...]

    21. Stephen Sears is an excellent story-teller in addition to being a fine historian and researcher. In "To the Gates of Richmond," he immediately draws the reader into the drama of the tale he has to tell: General George McClellan's failed Peninsula Campaign of 1862. There is plenty of detail in his account, but it never overwhelms the reader, for Sears always has his eye on the forest as well as the trees. I highly recommend "To the Gates of Richmond" to anyone interested in the Civil War, and the [...]

    22. This was a very well writen book about one of the biggest campaings of the entire war. Sears presented a well balanced account that explored both commanders and enlisted men from both sides in the conflict. I had never really read about the Peninsula Campaign before reading this book but now I feel very well informed on the subject. This was also a very good time to read it because the next couple months marks the 150th Anniversary of the Peninsula Campaign. I am really looking forward to readin [...]

    23. Stephen W. Sears begins with a bias against the U.S. Balloon Corps and builds his case by quoting from a youthful admirer of General McClellan named Comte de Paris. Sears avoids quoting from educated historians such as Dr. Tom D. Crouch the chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.Sears historical education is suspect a complete book review in regards to his bias against the Balloon Corps can be found at: thaddeusloweme/CWSearsb

    24. General George McClellan's dream invasion failed because he relied on faulty intelligence, because of his lofty ego, and because he feared losing more than he wanted victory. To quote his Seven Day's nemesis, Robert E Lee, who later said, "To be a good soldier, you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love." McClellan failed as a commander in this campaign.

    25. After reading Chancellorsville and To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, Stephen Sears's humanizing and visualizing of the Civil War experience is very effective. From a description of the battle at Gaines's Mill, "It was nearing 7:00 P.M. now, and the sun low on the western horizon was glowing a dull red through the haze of battle smoke, giving the scene a hellish cast". Added to the carnage, this must have been terrifying.

    26. 'To the Gates of Richmond' is a study of Seven Days campaign, written in superior narrative style for which Stephen Sears become renown for. Very accessible language and coverage of all important aspects of the campaign makes it an excellent choice both for students of the period and readers with generic interest in history.

    27. Paints a vivid picture of this campaign, when the war could have been over with much less loss. The main insight I gained was that the communication between commanders was an obstacle that has been minimized when we consider the slowness and ineffectual leadership in the early years.

    28. If you like Civil War history, anything by Stephen Sears is a must read. In this book he gives the reader a complete picture of not just a battle but a military movement in the war. The research is detailed but mixed with enough human interest stories to keep things moving.

    29. The most coherent, well-researched popular history of the Peninsula Campaign, as one would expect from this author. I relied heavily on this book in when writing the Peninsula Campaign section of my novel NORTH BY SOUTH. If you are interested in this campaign, this is the standard bearer.

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