« PreviousContinue »
unteers, and entered upon active service May, when a powersul rifled 68-pounder with the army of the Potomac.
of the enemy was exploded in their It was the plan of General McClellan works. As the parallels and batteries not to open fire upon the enemy's works of General McClellan advanced to comtill bis investing line of batteries was pletion the fire of the enemy grew conthoroughly completed, when the general stantly more active. It was taken as an assault would prove utterly destructive. evidence of strength ; it was in reality a To this end his efforts were seldom shelter for retreat. The Confederates, diverted from the main object. One or fully aware of the force brought against two incidents, however, diversified the them, were not disposed to encounter an usual reports from the army, which were irresistible attack. The evacuation of mainly confined to complaints of the Yorktown was accordingly resolved upweather, the state of the roads, tributes on in a council of war in the city, at to the sharpshooters, and the excellence which it was said President Davis assistof their telescopic rifles, shrewd hints of ed. As usual with these movements of the grand preparations in progress, with the enemy, it was most skillfully conever increasing estimates of the strength ducted. of the enemy's works, and the numbers The final preparations of General Mcof their defenders. On the 26th of April Clellan had been made, and all was there was a courageous assault on an ready for opening the long expected advanced lunette of the rebels on this bombardment. Monday, the 5th of May, side of Warwick river, near its head, by exactly one month after the army had a company of the 1st Massachusetts. begun its march from Hampton, was the * The work,” says General McClellan, day appointed. Early on the morning “had a ditch six feet deep, with a strong of Sunday, however, a day of rest in parapet, and was manned by two com- the camp, it was observed by the pickets panies of infantry; no artillery. Our that the firing which had been kept up men moved over open, soft ground, some all night was intermitted. The enemy six hundred yards, received the fire of had been for several days withdrawing the rebels at fifty yards, did not return their forces. The guns which had coverit, but rushed over the ditch and parapet ed their retreat they were, of course, in the most gallant manner. The rebels compelled to leave. On entering the broke and ran, as soon as they saw our works-which proved to be well conmen intended to cross the parapet. Our structed, and of a formidable character-loss was three killed, and one mortally all was found abandoned. At six o'clock and twelve otherwise wounded. We the flag of the Union was again flying on took fourteen prisoners, destroyed the the walls of Yorktown, a second time work sufficiently to render it useless, and conquered by the national arms. Would retired. The operation was conducted that it had been, as at the surrender to by General C. Grover, who managed the Washington, the crowning and concluaffair most handsomely. Nothing could sive action of the war. At nine General have been better than the conduct of all McClellan telegraphed to the secretary the men under fire." On the 30th of of war: “We have the ramparts. We April, the battery commanding the rebel have guns, ammunition, camp equipage, water batteries was tried upon the ship- ctc. We hold the entire line of his ping in the harbor, and there was some works, which the engineers report as befiring from its heavy guns, 100 and 200-ing very strong. I have thrown all my pounder rifled Parrott's-on the 2d of cavalry and horse artillery in pursuit
, Dispatch to Secretary Stanton. Camp Winfield Scott, (lin's division and as much more as I can
supported by infantry. I move FrankApril 26, 1862.
transport by water up to West Point to- tunately, we have not lost many men in day. No time shall be lost. The gun- this manner--some four or five killed, boats have gone up York river. I omit- and perhaps a dozen wounded. I shall ted to state that Gloucester is also in make the prisoners remove them at their our possession. I shall push the enemy own peril.” to the wall.” Two hours after he added, A correspondent feelingly describes “An inspection just made shows that the the fendish barbarism denounced by rebels abandoned in their works at York- General McClellan in the dispatch just town two 3-inch rified cannon, two cited. “I was riding,” says he, “ across 4 -inch rifled cannon, sixteen 32-pound- the field to the right, when certain of the ers, six 42-pounders, nineteen 8-inch | 22d Massachusetts, there stationed, warncolumbiads, four 9-inch Dahlgrens, one ed me of the infernal truth of a report 10-inch columbiad, one 10-inch mortar, that had reached our camp half an hour and one 8-inch siege howitzer, with car- before--that the surface of the ground riages and implements complete, each was mined with torpedoes, which, strickpiece supplied with seventy-six rounds en by the foot of man or horse, would of ammunition. On the ramparts there assuredly explode and do their devilish are also four magazines, which have not work. Five men had already been killed yet been examined. This does not in- or mutilated in this manner, and, as the clude the guns lest at Gloucester Point, soldiers spoke, I saw another victim carand their other works to our left.” In a ried past on a stretcher. He was a Mr. third dispatch at seven o'clock of the Lathrop, telegraph operator to General evening of that memorable Sunday, Gen- Heintzelman, and not an hour ago I had eral McClellan announced to the Depart- shaken his hand at the general's headment at Washington : "Our cavalry and quarters. His foot had been blown off horse artillery came up with the enemy's at the ankle joint. I rode cautiously, rear guard, in their entrenchments, about then, being warned by men posted near two miles this side of Williamsburg. A the torpedoes which had been discovered, brisk fight ensued. Just as my aid left, or bits of stick planted in order to indiSmith's division of infantry arrived on cate their presence, and soon dismounted the ground, and I presume, carried his to cross a plank over a deep but empty works, though I have not yet heard. The ditch into the rebel fortifications. * * * enemy's rear is strong, but I have force But wander where you will, it is wise to enough up there to answer all purposes. tread carefully, and keep the middle of We have, thus far, seventy-one heavy the road, according to the counsel of the guns, and large amounts of tents, ammu- negroes, for there are torpedoes buried nition, etc, All along the lines their inside, as well as outside of Yorktown ; works prove to‘have been most formida- and less than fifteen minutes ago I heard ble, and I am now fully satisfied of the the explosion of one, and was told that correctness of the course I have pursued. another soldier had been murdered. GoThe success is brilliant, and you may ing to get some water from a well, too, rest assured that its effects will be of the near one of the embrasures, I was warngreatest importance. There shall be no ed off ; the rebels had secreted torpedoes delay in following up the rebels. The on one side of it." rebels have been guilty of the most mur- General McClellan, as stated in his derous and barbarons conduct in placing dispatch, lost no time, on gaining possestorpedoes within the abandoned works, sion of Yorktown, in ordering a pursuit near wells and springs, and near flag- of the fugitive enemy, who had taken the staffs, magazines, telegraph offices, in
* Special Correspondent New York Tribune. carpet bags, barrels of flour, etc. For- I town, May 4, 1862.
PURSUIT OF THE ENEMY.
road to Williamsburg, the central avenue liamsburg at the cross road, and as they through the peninsula to the railwaỹ came within range were saluted from running westerly from West Point, at the Fort Magruder by a shower of shells. head of York river to Richmond. There The Prince de Joinville, who was with were two roads by which the Union ar- the party, has described the encounter my might approach Williamsburg ; an which ensued. “Stoneman,” says be, upper one leading directly from York- "seeing that the enemy covered the fork town a distance of twelve miles, and of the roads, and perceiving that it the road from Warwick court house, would be impossible for him to mainjoining the other in the vicinity of the tain his ground before them, undertook town. At the junction of these roads to dislodge them by a vigorous blow. the Confederates had erected a formida- He threw forward all his horse artillery, ble bastioned earthwork named Fort which took up its position brilliantly in Magruder, flanked by a line of redoubts, front of the abattis, and replied to the protected in front by ubattis ;-extend- fire of the redoubts ; and he then ordering across the isthmus of dry land to the ed his cavalry to charge. The 6th Fedswamps on either side. Here the enemy eral cavalry dashed forward gallantly to was found in force when the troops or- meet the cavalry of the Confederates, dered forward by General McClellan passed directly under the cross fire of came up. General Stoneman, with the the redoubts, and rode into one of those entire cavalry and four batteries of horse fights with the cold steel which have beartillery, passing rapidly through York- come so rare in these days. Neverthetown took the lead, to be followed on the less, this was all so much valor thrown same road by the divisions of Hooker away. The enemy did not disturb himand Kearney, while the divisions of self; he had the advantages of number Smith, Couch, and Casey were ordered to and position. To carry these works coöperate with them by a road from War- with cavalry was impossible. Men, and wick court house. Other divisions of particularly horses, began to fall. “I Richardson, Sedgewick and Porter, were have lost thirty-one men,' said Major moved to the vicinity of Yorktown, to be Williams, who had led the charge of in readiness, as occasion might require, the 6th, gracefully saluting General to support the troops marching forward, Stoneman with his sabre, with that air or to follow the division of Franklin, of determination which says, “we will which was sent up the York river to cut go at it again, but it's of no use.' Stoneoff the rebel retreat. General Smith's man then ordered the retreat. division crossed the Warwick river at passed the abattis, and falling back to a Lee's mills, the enemy retreating before clearing about half a mile distant, there them towards Williamsburg. This divi-awaited the arrival of the infantry to sion came out at a junction with the up- renew the engagement. Unluckily, in per road, on which Stoneman had pre- traversing the marsh, a gun of the horse ceded it, at the site of an old church artillery got buried in the mud, and could about six miles distant from Yorktown. not be extricated. In vain were the Hooker, who left the latter place by this teams doubled. The enemy concentrated road about noon, on coming up found bis fire of shells on that point and that Stoneman had fallen upon the ene- killed all the horses. The gun had to my in their line of defence, and had met be left. It was the first which the with a vigorous resistance, and been com- army had lost, and the men were inpelled to fall back, and wait for the in- consolable. In the evening we renewfantry supports. The cavalry bad rid- ed our efforts to recover it, but the den boldly up to the works before Wil- abattis were filled with hostile sharp
shooters, who made it impossible to the right and left of them resting on the approach."*
waters of the York and James rivers. On hearing of this repulse, as he ap- Approaching them from the south, they proached the ground, General Hooker are concealed by heavy forest until the would have pushed on his troops to the observer is within less than a mile of scene of action, had not the road been their locality. Where the forest had blocked by the division of General Smith been standing nearer than this distance which, as we have stated, had turned the trees had been felled, in order that into it from a cross road. Finding that the occupants of the redoubts might have Stoneman was thus being supported in timely notice of the approach of an encthis direction, and impatient for action, my, and early strike him with artillery. Hooker applied to General Heintzelman, The trees had been felled in this manner the superior officer charged with the ad- on both sides of the road on which we vance on the Yorktown road, for author- had advanced for a breadth of almost half ity to throw his command on the Hamp- a mile, and the same was the case on the ton road, which, as has been mentioned, Yorktown road. Between the edge of intersected that on which Stoneman had the felled timber and the fort was a belt halted at the point occupied by the ene- of clear, arable land, six or seven hunmy. “Obtaining this permission,” says dred yards in width. This was dotted General Hooker, in his official report, all over with rifle pits. In connection " the head of my division left the brick with the redoubts themselves, I may be church about dark, and it pressed for- permitted to state, that I found them ward in order, if practicable, to come up standing near the eastern and southern with the enemy before morning. This, verge of a slightly elevated plain, the however, I soon found would be impossi- slopes of which were furrowed with ble, for the roads were frightful, the widening ravines, with an almost boundnight intensely dark and rainy, and many less, gently undulating plain, reaching of my men exhausted from loss of sleep, across the peninsula, and extending to and from labor the night before in the the north and west as far as the eye can trenches. The troops were halted in the reach. The landscape is highly picturmiddle of the road between ten and esque, and not a little heightened by the eleven o'clock, P. M,, resolved to stop un- large trees and venerable spires of Wiltil daylight, when we started again, and liamsburg, two miles distant. Fort Macame in sight of the enemy's works be- gruder appears to be the largest of the fore Williamsburg about half-past five redoubts-its crest measuring nearly o'clock in the morning. Before emerg- half a mile, with substantial parapets, ing from the forest the column was halt-ditches, magazines, etc. This was located ed, while I rode to the front to find what to command the Yorktown and Hampton could be learned of the position of the roads, and the redoubts in its vicinity to enemy.
command the ravines, which the guns of " The first work that presented itself Fort Magruder could not sweep: was Fort Magruder, and this was stand- Being in pursuit of a retreating army ing at the junction of the Yorktown and I deemed it my duty to lose no time in Hampton roads, and on each side of it making the disposition of my forces to was a cordon of redoubts extending as attack, regardless of their number and far as could be seen. Subsequently I position, except to accomplish the result found their number to be thirteen, and with the least possible sacrifice of life. extending entirely across the peninsula, By so doing, my division, if it did not * The Army of the Potomac, etc., by, the Prince de least hold them in order that some others
capture the army before me, would at Joinville. Hurlbert's translation, pp. 80, 51.
GENERAL HOOKER'S REPORT.
might. Besides, I knew of the presence forward, and, in the time I am writing, of more than thirty thousand troops not had those pieces well at work. Bramtwo miles distant from me, and that hall's battery was now brought into acwithin twelve miles (four hours' march), tion, under that excellent officer, on the was the bulk of the arıny of the Potomac. right of Webber's, and before nine o'clock My own position was tenable for double every gun in Fort Magruder was silenced, that length of time against three times and all the troops in sight on the plain my number. At half-past seven o'clock, dispersed. Between the sharpshooters Brigadier-General Grover was directed and the two batteries the enemy's guns to commence the attack, by sending the in this fort were not heard from again 1st Massachusetts regiment as skirmish- until late in the afternoon. ers into the felled timber on the left of "One of the regiments in Brigadierthe road on which they were standing - General Patterson's brigade--the 5th the 2d New Hampshire regiment to the New Jersey—was charged with the esright-both with directions to skirmish pecial care of these batteries, and was up to the edge of the felled timber, and posted a little to the rear of them. The there, under cover, to turn their atten- remaining regiments of Patterson's brition to the occupants of the rifle-pits, and gade, under their intrepid commander, the enemy's sharpshooters and gunners were sent into the left of the road from in Fort Magruder The 11th Massachu- where they were standing, in anticipation setts regiment, and the 26th Pennsylva- of an attack from that quarter. Heavy nia, were then directed to form on the forest trees cover this ground and con. right of the 2d New Hampshire, and to ceal from the view the enemy's earthadvance as skirmishers until they had works, about a mile distant. The forest reached the Yorktown road, and when itself has a depth of about three-fourths that was gained to have word sent to of that distance. It was through this
Under my chief of artillery, Web- that Patterson led the 6th, 7th, and 8th ber's battery was thrown forward in ad- New Jersey regiments. Bodies of the vance of the fallen timber, and brought enemy's infantry were seen drifting in into action in a cleared field on the right that direction, and the increased musof the road, and distant from Fort Ma- ketry fire proved that many others were gruder about seven hundred yards. No flocking thither, whom we could not see. sooner had it emerged from the forest, Prior to this movement Brigadier-Genon the way to its position, than four guns eral Emory had reached iny position from Fort Magruder opened on it, and with a light battery and a body of cavafter it was still further up the road, alry, which were promptly placed at my they received the fire from two additional disposal by that experienced and gifted guns from a redoubt on the left. How soldier ; but, as I had no duty on which ever, it was pushed on, and before it was I could employ those arms of service, brought into motion, two officers and two and as I was confined for room in the privates had been shot down, and before exercise of my own command, I requesta single piece of the battery had been ed that he would dispatch a party to discharged, its cannoncers had been reconnoitre and observe the movements driven from it despite the skill and ac- of the rebels to the rear of my left. This tivity of my sharpshooters in picking off was executed to my satisfaction.
It was the rebel gunners. Volunteers were now now reported to me that the skirmishers called for by my gallant chief of artillery, to the right had reached the Yorktown Major Wainwright, to man the battery road, where word was sent to Colonel now in position, when the officers and Blaisdell to proceed with the 11th Mascannoneers of Osborne's battery sprang sachusetts and 26th Pennsylvania regi