While Union forces were making headlines pushing the rebels south through Kentucky and Tennessee in early 1862, Gen. George McClellan finally put his vaunted Army of the Potomac in the field in March, sending it by ship to Virginia with the intention of capturing the Confederate capital of Richmond
and ending the war. The Peninsula Campaign
, as it was called, ended with the bloody affair known as the Seven Days Battle, a series of fights from June 26 to July 1 that saw Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops send the Union armies packing with the aggressive style that would befuddle Northern commanders for months to come.
Exacerbating the usual delay of reliable news from the front, the government forbade transmission via telegraph of information about the campaign. Even reports already printed in East Coast newspapers couldn't be sent on the wires, effectively blacking out Chicago and other far-flung cities. That led to June 30 headlines that read, "Probably a battle fought yesterday," and "All war dispatches suppressed." The fighting had started four days prior.
Here's the colorful report of the Confederate rout of Union forces at Gaines' Mill, though a former Illinois governor, John Wood, proved his mettle. The story didn't appear in the Tribune until July 7, 10 days later.
THE CIVIL WAR: 150 YEARS AGO
Flashback is commemorating the War Between the States by reprinting portions of the news coverage from significant battles.
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