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PREPARATIONS FOR THE BOMBARDMENT.
was a sublime yet fearful spectacle. The imagination started back appalled at the vision of slaughtered heaps, and" garments rolled in blood,” that rose in the future.
There was one great difference, however, in their composition, that encouraged the hopes of the north. The south, to present numerically an equal force, had to resort to conscription. The north, on the other hand, had been compelled to shut up its recruiting stations, to prevent the overwhelming increase of the army, and hence had men ready and eager to fight.
This dead lock of the opposing forces produced fitful complaints, and loud clamors from a few excitable individuals in and out of Congress; but the great intelligence of the mass of the people enabled them to understand and appreciate the true motives of delay, and the vital importance of run. ning no needless hazard.
The censorship of the press shut out from the public all knowledge of what was going on at Yorktown, but the great confidence in McClellan's sagacity and military ability, made it patient.
Quietly, but unceasingly, he was bending all his energies to hasten forward the approaches, and on the third, he had fourteen powerful batteries constructed--all mounted but three--ninety-six heavy guns, some two hundred and orie hundred-pounders, and thirteen-inch mortars, being in position within breaching distance of the walls, and all connected with parallels. Three redoubts were also finished. In a few more hours every thing would be in readiness, and then the earthquake shock would come. McClellan, who had had ample opportunity to see what effect such batteries would have on earthworks and fortifications in the siege of Sebas topol, knew that when he once opened his fire, the works before him would melt like was.
But an engineer equally skillful, had, unknown to him,
BCENE AT THE EVACUATION.
surveyed his operations. Lee had been summoned to Yorktown, and his practiced eye saw that McClellan had been allowed to proceed with his work till the place was untenable. An evacuation, much to the surprise of the ignorant troops, and indignation of Huger, who was in command at Norfolk, was at once determined upon, and immediately commenced.
EVACUATION OF YORKTOWN.
On the third, the rebels kept up a continuous fire along their lines, shaking the Peninsula with their incessant cannonade, while the heavy shot and shell filled the air with their steady rush and shriek.
Nor did it cease at night, and when darkness settled over the encampment, from the ramparts that stretched away from Yorktown there were constant gushes ot' flame, while the heavy thunder rolled far away in the gloom. A little after midnight it suddenly ceased, and 4a ominous silence rested over the works. Toward morning, flames were seen to rise from behind them. Heintzelman went up in a balloon with professor Lowe, to ascertain its
cause, and found that the enemy had fired one of their storehouses. Gradually the day broke over the landscape below him, when he saw that the intrenchments were empty. The last of the rebel army had filed during the night.
The news spread like lightning from division to division, and through the long line of encampments, when the regimental bands struck up one after another a joyous air till the vast plain echoed with the jubilant strains, and then the regiments themselves, in quick succession, sent up a shout that shook the field.
In the midst of the general jubilee, officers were seen galloping to the heads of brigades and divisions, bearing the following order: “Commandants of regiments will prepare to march with two days' rations, with the utmost dispatch
Leave not to return." The vast encampment was quickly all astir, and by eight o'clock the cavalry and artillery, supported by infantry, were streaming forward on the road over which the last of the fleeing enemy had passed a few hours before.
Seventy-one guns of different kinds and calibers were left in the works, besides a great number of tents, and a quantity of ammunition. The enemy had buried torpedoes in the road and various places, to blow up our troops, and a few were killed in this barbarous way.
Gloucester Point, opposite Yorktown, across the river, was evacuated at the same time, in which were found many more cannon. This left York river open to our gun boats and transports, and secured the destruction or capture of all ihe rebel vessels in it. McClellan, though his plan had been broken up, prepared as well as he could for the sudden evacuation of Yorktown, and had Franklin's division already on board transports, ready to start for West Point, the main head of navigation on the York river, so as to intercept, if possible, the enemy on their retreat to Richmond. How far or how fast they had fallen back, it was impossible to say; for they had conducted their operations so cautiously, that the advance of the retreating army had been gone two days before any
indications of their movements were received at McClellan's head-quarters.
He pushed the pursuit, however, with vigor, and the troops, released from their long confinement, were only too eager to march forward. Towards evening, that day, (Mon: day,) the cavalry under General Stoneman, came up with tire rear guard of the enemy, about two miles from Williamsburg, and a sharp skirmish followed. They were found to be intrenched, but the cavalry drove them from one of their works, though for the want of infantry they were compelled to abandon it, and withdrawing a short distance, they bivoliaced for the night.
FACE OF THE COUNTRY.
The first and sixth regular cavalry behaved admirably, closing in a hand to hand fight with that of the enemy, and losing nearly fifty killed and wounded. One gun, by getting fast in the mud, was abandoned.
It was evident that the rebels purposed making a determined stand with a large force at this place, in order to gain time for the remainder of the army and baggage trains to escape. The town is twelve miles north of Yorktown, and fifty-eight from Richmond, and is situated on a plain nearly midway in the Peninsula, which at that point is eight or ten miles wide from river to river. Two roads lead from York. town to it, one near the York, and the other near the James river, with a vast forest between them They gradually approach each other as they stretch towards Richmond, and at the point where they meet, at the northern extremity of the woods, the enemy had taken their stand, and erected earth works which commanded the entire space over which our troops must advance. At the right, immense farms spread away, dotted with five separate earth works, but on the left, the woods came up near the intrenchments, and were filled with rifle pits that could not be seen till our troops were directly upon them-outside of them were three earth works.
Hooker, of Heintzelman's, and Smith, of Keyes' division, had come up the evening before, and in the morning advanced on the enemy's works,—the former moving through the woods on his right, and the latter on his feft. - A heavy rain storm was raging at the time, giving a sombre, dreary aspect to every thing, and drenching the jaded soldiers to their skins. The bivouac on the damp earth the night be. fore was not favorable to elasticity of spirits, and this pelting rain storm was not calculated to improve them, but the soldiers pushed resolutely, though slowly on.
407 Hooker had not proceed far before a heavy fire of grape and canister from the enemy's batteries opened upon him. It was impossible to move directly upon and storm them, for the rebels had cut down the trees in front-piling them with their bushy tops pointing directly towards our advancing troops, and presenting an obstruction that would hold them so long under fire if they attempted to force their way through, that but few could expect to survive it. Notwithstanding this, the men were deployed in the woods, and bravely endeavored to make their way over the fallen timber. They dropped fast on every side, for the woods were filled with the incessant crack of musketry, from a foe that was only half visible. By desperate fighting, however, they won the ground before them inch by inch, when the rebels, despairing of arresting their determined advance, sent off for reinforcements, that soon came pouring in by thousands. Hooker now undertook to advance one of his guns, but it stuck fast in the mud, and he had to shoot the horses to prevent the enemy, who came rushing upon it in overwhelming force, from carrying it off. He soon saw that he could not long hold his ground against the tremendous odds that were being brought to bear upon him, and sent off again and again for reinforcements, and charged desperately on the enemy to keep him back till they could arrive, bus hour after hour passed, yet they did not make their appear'- .
Now his wearied troops by a gallant effort would force the enemy to retire for a space, and then they would swing heavily back before the onset of double their number. Heintzelman sat on his horse amid ishe raining balls, a prey to the most intense anxiety. His bravest troops were being mowed down like grass, and unless help came soon they would have to give way. It was true the roads were horrible, and the rain fell in torrents, yet it was plain there was negligence or lack of energy somewhere. Four guns had