By the middle of 1862, the Confederacy teetered on the brink of disaster on all fronts. Defeat after demoralizing defeat plagued Southern forces in the west. At the same time in the eastern theater, General George B. McClellan's Federal Army of the Potomac arrived at the outskirts of Richmond after a slow but steady 50-mile march up the rugged Virginia peninsula. On 31 May, the Confederate army, under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston, turned and attacked McClellan's army at Fair Oaks and Seven Pines. The two-day battle caught the Army of the Potomac in a vulnerable position astride the raging Chickahominy River. After initial success, the Confederate attack was blunted and both sides returned to their lines. Perhaps the most significant result of the battle was the wounding of Johnston and the elevation of Robert E. Lee to the command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
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