The Battle of Savage’s Station was the third major battle during the Seven Days’ Battles. Despite winning a clear victory on 26 June (Battle of Mechanicsville), General McClellan decided to abandon his position close to Richmond and retreat south to the James River, where he felt his supply lines would be safe from Confederate action. Robert E. Lee’s decision to attack McClellan’s much larger army was justified not by the success of his own attacks but by McClellan’s decision to move.
This move exposed the Union army to a real danger of defeat. McClellan’s army had a vast supply train most of which had to pass along the one good road from the Chickahominy River to the James. For three days, from 28 to 30 June, McClellan’s men were stretched out along this road, and very vulnerable to Confederate attacks.
Luckily for them, Robert E. Lee had not yet developed the great tactical skills that would win him his victories later in the year, and Stonewall Jackson, his most important lieutenant, failed to live up to his reputation.
On 29 June Lee planned for a two pronged attack on the Union rearguard. Magruder, who had command of the troops left south of the Chickahominy, was to attack from the west, while Jackson was to attack from the north. In the event only Magruder launched an attack, which was easily fought off. Jackson spent the day rebuilding a bridge over the Chickahominy River, despite the existence of several fords that his men could have used. At the end of the day the Union rearguard was able to continue the retreat without problems.