The idea behind the Peninsular Campaign was an advancement of the Union forces into Virginia and the taking of Richmond. Under pressure from President Lincoln, McClellan started the deployment of his troops. The campaign began in April 1862 when Gen. George B. McClellan moved his force of 110,000 onto the peninsula between the York and James rivers. After McClellan's army defeated the Confederate forces he could move in and siege Richmond. McClellan's plan was to move his flanks in while he was backed by Union gunboats, and with the combination of both forces McClellan hoped to beat or severely weaken Richmond's defenses. Although McClellan's plan seemed to be a worthwhile investment by the government, the campaign turned out to be a major disappointment to Lincoln and his advisers. The failure was due to several faults in the plan. The huge amounts of troops caused movement to be extremely cumbersome and time consuming. McClellan also proved to be an extremely difficult officer to work with, often disobeying orders. Even with such difficulties McClellan landed his forces just southeast of Yorktown on April 1862, which he captured a month later.
Gen. Johnston, in seeing McClellan coming, moved a large quantity of his army to the security of Richmond, while sending the rest of his troops to attack McClellan. Johnston was able to stall McClellan by using several deceptive methods. One was the use of a little bit of running by his troops, who ran from site to site in order to make an impressive image for the Union soldiers. To McClellan it appeared that Johnston's army was five or six times larger than its actual size. Finally, Lincoln ordered McClellan to move so he did but only after asking for reinforcements. A battle broke out near Seven Pines a few miles east of Richmond, on May 31-June 1, 1862. In battle Johnston was severely wounded and Lee was given command of Johnston's army. Lee immediately planned to attack McClellan. He summoned Jackson from the Shenandoah Valley, and attacked one of McClellan's exposed flanks above the Chickahominy River.
In the Seven Days Battles (June 26-July 2,1862), Lee hurled his 85,000 men against McClellan's 100,000. Successive clashes at Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines's Mill, Savage's Station, and Glendale brought the armies to the terrible battle of Malvern Hill on July 1. Here Lee was checked, but McClellan, ordered by Washington authorities not to take the offensive with his weakened troops, retreated to the Union base at Harrison's Landing, and the campaign ended in failure. No land was gained by either side so the campaign was a draw.