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FAIR OAKS

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 133 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FAIR OAKS, a station on a branch of the Southern railway, 6 m. E. of Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. It is noted as the site of one of the battles of the Civil War, fought on the 31st of May and the 1st of June 1862, between the Union (Army of the Potomac) under General G. B. McClellan and the Confederate forces (Army of Northern Virginia) commanded by General J. E. Johnston. The attack of the Confederates was made at a moment when the river Chickahominy divided the Federal army into two unequal parts, and was, moreover, swollen to such a degree as to endanger the bridges. General Johnston stationed part of his troops along the river to prevent the Federals sending aid to the smaller force south of it, upon which the Con-federate attack, commanded by General Longstreet, was directed. Many accidents, due to the inexperience of the staff officers and to the difficulty of the ground, hindered the development of Longstreet's attack, but the Federals were gradually driven back with a loss of ten guns, though at the last moment reinforcements managed to cross the river and re-establish the line of defence. At the close of the day Johnston was severely wounded, and General G. W. Smith succeeded to the command. The battle was renewed on the 1st of June but not fought out. At the close of the action General R. E. Lee took over the command of the Confederates, which he held till the final surrender in April 1865. So far as the victory lay with either'side, it was with the Union army, for the Confederates failed to achieve their purpose of destroying the almost isolated left wing of McClellan's army, and after the battle they withdrew into the lines of Richmond. The Union losses were 5031 in killed, wounded and missing; those of the Confederates were 6134. The battle is sometimes known as the battle of Seven Pines.
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ANDREW MARTIN FAIRBAIRN (1838- )

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