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Battle of Fair Oaks

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General Joseph E. Johnston's forces protecting Richmond were outnumbered by McClellan's besieging troops, which straddled both sides of the swollen Chickahominy. Johnston knew that if McDowell moved south from Fredericksburg to join McClellan, his position would be untenable. Thus Johnston decided to attack McClellan's left wing while it was somewhat isolated from the right. He launched the attack on May 31st. The battle was a sorry spectacle of mistakes and confusion on both sides, with no decisive conclusion. The Confederates gained many supplies, but had over 6,000 casualties compared to just over 5,000 for the Union. The biggest loss for the Southerners was the wounding of Johnston. To replace Johnston, Jefferson Davis appointed Robert E. Lee as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Fair Oaks
"The Battle of Fair Oaks, Va. May 31st. 1862." New York: Currier & Ives, 1862. Lithograph. Original hand color. Small folio. 8 1/8 x 12 1/4. Repaired tear and some light smudging in wide margins. Otherwise, very good condition. C:402.

This print shows, in typical "popular print" style, a fierce battle of hand-to-hand combat between the two sides. Of particular interest is the appearance of an observation balloon in the distance. $525



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