When: April 11
Where: Ohio Health Medical Campus, 300 Polaris Parkway, Westerville Ohio 43081
Speaker: Frank A. O’Reilly
Topic: Malvern Hill: Retreat from Victory; Victory in Defeat
The Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond heralded the emergence of Robert E.
Lee, but Lee was not happy with the results. His elaborate plans for
concentrating his forces at the point of attack had failed
repeatedly—fortunately, his opponent was George B. McClellan, a general
more gifted at siegecraft than combat. As the running battle shifted south
across the Virginia peninsula, Lee changed his emphasis from defending
Richmond to annihilating the Union army. Upset, sick, and frustrated, Lee
lashed out at McClellan’s army at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862 before his
opportunity disappeared altogether. Malvern Hill was in many ways the most
dreadful encounter of the Seven Days’ Battles—it was a battle that probably
should have never been fought, but ironically, a battle the Confederates
won in spite of themselves simply because the Northern commander retreated
from victory. The strategic victory solidified the revolution in
Confederate nationhood, but the horror of Malvern Hill would haunt Lee’s
Confederates for the rest of their lives.
Frank A. O’Reilly graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1987. He joined the National Park Service at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, then worked briefly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, before returning to Fredericksburg in 1990 as the permanent historian for the “Stonewall” Jackson Shrine. O’Reilly has also served as an historical consultant for the City of Fredericksburg. His latest book, The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock, received a 2003 nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters. It was released by LSU Press in December, 2002, and has won the 2002 Capital District (Albany, NY) Book Award; the 2003 James I. Robertson, Jr. Book Award; the 2004 Daniel Laney Book Award; and the 2004 Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award.
O’Reilly has written numerous articles on the Civil War and Mexican War, and introductions to several books, including Phil Sheridan’s memoirs, William McCarter’s My Life in the Irish Brigade, and the History of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. He released a book on the Fredericksburg Campaign titled, Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg, in 1993. O’Rielly has appeared in a number of video documentaries, and lectured extensively on military history to audiences around the world. He recently presented in Oxford, United Kingdom, on the Bicentennial of Robert E. Lee’s birth; and the Sesquicentennial of the beginning of the war in 1861.
O’Rielly is currently researching a book on the Battle of Malvern Hill and the Seven Days’ Campaign.