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No. 1, on the Warwick, which was Fort Magruder, just in front of to have been converted into a real Williamsburg, at the junction of sevattack if successful at the outset. eral roads, commanded, with its 13 Though gallantly made, it failed ; adjuncts, substantially all the roads our advance being driven back across leading farther up the Peninsula. the stream with the loss of 100 men. Though not calculated to stand a The Rebels lost about 75 men, in-siege, it was a large and strong cluding Col. R. M. McKinney, 15th earthwork, with a wet ditch nine feet North Carolina, killed.
wide. Here Stoneman was stopped Gen. McClellan had been thirty by a sharp and accurate cannonaddays in front of Yorktown, and was ing, which compelled him to recoil intending to open the siege in due and await the arrival of infantry. form by the fire of breaching batteries Gen. Sumner, with Smith's division, on the morning of May 6th; but he came up at 5:30 P. M. A heavy rain found, two days earlier, that Magru- soon set in, and continued through der had abandoned his works, includ- the night, making the roads nearly ing Yorktown, during the preceding impassable. The several commands, night, retreating up the Peninsula. marching on different roads, had in
The pursuit of the flying Rebels terfered with and obstructed each was prompt and energetic. It was other's progress at the junction of led by Gen. George D. Stoneman, those roads as they concentered upon with 4 regiinents and a squadron of Williamsburg. Gen. Hooker, adcavalry, and 4 batteries of horse-artil- vancing® on the direct road from lery, followed, on the Yorktown road Yorktown to Williamsburg, was to Williamsburg, by Hooker's and stopped, five or six iniles out, by Kearny's divisions, and on the Winn's finding Gen. Smith's division in his Mill road by those of W. F. Smith, way, and compelled to wait some Couch, and Casey. Gen. McClellan hours. Impatient at this delay, he renained at Yorktown to supervise sought and obtained of Gen. Heintthe embarkation of Gen. Franklin's zelman permission to move over :o and other troops for West Point. the Hampton road on his left, on
33 Gen. John G. Barnard, Gen. McClellan's | (I certainly did suggest it), my opinion now is that chief engineer through the Peninsula campaign,
the lines of Yorktown should have been assaultin a report to his commander at the close of that
ed. There is reason to believe that they were
not held in strong force when our army appeared campaign, says:
before them; and we know that they were far "At the time the Army of the Potomac landed from complete. The prestige of power, the moon the Peninsula, the Rebel cause was at its rale, were on our side. It was due to ourselves lowest ebb. Its armies were demoralized by the to confirm and sustain it. We should probably defeats of Port Royal, Mill Spring, Fort Henry, have succecded. But, if we had failed, it may Fort Donelson, Roanoke Island, and Pea Ridge; well be doubted whether the shock of an unsucand reduced by sickness, loss in battle, expira- cessful assault would be more demoralizing than tions of period of service, etc.; while the con. the labors of a siege. scription law was not yet even passed. It “Our troops tciled a month in the trenchas, seemed as if it needed but one vigorous gripe to or lay in the swamps of Warwick. We lost tow end forever this Rebellion, so nearly throttled. men by the siege; but disease took a fearful How, then, happened it, that the day of the ini. hold of the army; and toil and hardship, unre. tiation of the campaign of this magnificent Army deemed by the excitement of combat, impaired of the Potomac was the day of the resuscitation their morale. We did not carry with us from of the Rebel cause, which seemed to grow pari Yorktown so good an army as we took there. passt with the slow progress of its operations? Of the bitter fruits of that month gained by the
" However I may be committed to any ex. enemy, we have tasted to our heart's content." pression of professional opinion to the contrary i 34 May 4.
THE FIGHTING AT WILLIAMSBURG.
123 which he advanced through the rain from Fort Magruder, Webber's batand deep mud and the dense dark- tery, wbich at once drew the fire of ness till nearly midnight, when his the Rebel batteries, whereby 4 of his troops were halted in the road, and cannoniers were shot down and the rested as they might until dawn ; rest driven off before we had fired a then they pressed on until, emerg- gun; but their places were soon suping from a forest, they came in sight, plied, and Bramhall's battery brought about 5:30 A. M., of the Rebel works into action on the right of Webber's; before Williamsburg; Fort Magruder when, between them, Fort Magruder in the center, at the junction of the was silenced before 9 A. M. PatterYorktown and Hampton roads, with son's brigade, composed of the 6th, its cordon of 13 redoubts, extending 7th, and 8th New Jersey, was formed clear across the Peninsula, hence behind these batteries as their supwidening quite rapidly and perma- port, and was soon desperately ennently just above the town. The gaged with the Rebel infantry and ground had of course been chosen to sharp-shooters, who were found ungive the greatest advantage to its comfortably numerous; so that the defenders: the forest felled for a 1st Massachusetts, 72d and 70th breadth of nearly half a mile, to ob- New York were sent to their aid, struct the advance of our infantry; and, though fighting gallantly, found while a belt of open, level land, 600 themselves still overmatched. Meanor 700 yards wide, dotted all over while, our skirmishers on the right with rifle-pits, intervened between having reached the Yorktown road, this tangled abatis and the fort and the 11th Massachusetts and 26th redoubts. Williamsburg lay in plain Pennsylvania were sent down that sight of Hooker's position, 'two miles road to press the enemy and estabdistant. After a careful survey of lish a connection with Heintzelthe ground, knowing that there were man's corps, supposed to be estab30,000 of our troops within two miles, lished upon it; Hooker, at 11:20 and the main body of our army with- a. M., sending a pressing message to in twelve, Hooker decided to attack, Heintzelman for assistance, and not in order to hold the Rebel force en- finding him. By 1 P. M., Hooker gaged until the rest of our army had sent in the 73d and 74th New could come up. Accordingly, send-York, his last regiments; and, though ing the 1st Massachusetts into the his force was fighting gallantly, with felled timber on the left, and the 2d varying success, he was losing men New Hampshire into that on the fast, yet making no headway. Three right, with directions to skirmish up times he had repulsed Rebel charges to the further edge of the abatis, and upon his center, each made with ordering the 11th Massachusetts and fresh troops in increasing numbers 26th Pennsylvania to form on the and with more resolute purpose. right of the 2d New Hampshire and soon, word came from the regiments advance as skirmishers until they thus engaged that their ammunition reached the Yorktown road, he threw was giving out, while no supply-train forward into the cleared field on the had yet come up; and it was found right of the road, barely 700 yards necessary to glean the cartridges from the boxes of our fallen heroes, Berry's brigade to the left of the while our most advanced regiments Williamsburg road, and Birney's to were drawn back to a position whence the right, leading forward two comthey could guard our left, yet form a panies of the 2d Michigan to beat portion of our front.
back the enemy's skirmishers, now Gen. Longstreet's division of the annoying our batteries ; while Maj. Rebel main army-which army, Wainwright, Hooker's chief of artilunder Gen. Joseph E. Johnston as lery, collected his gunners and commander-in-chief, had hastened ere rëopened a fire from his remaining this to the defense of Richmond from pieces; whereupon the 5th New the side of the Peninsula—had passed Jersey, thongh fearfully cut up, ralthrough Williamsburg on the retreat, lied promptly to their support. Our when it was recalled to aid in the musketry fire was renewed along the defense." Having now arrived on whole line, and our regiments began the field, a fresh attempt was made to gain ground. to drive in our left, which, after a Finding that the heavy timber in protracted struggle, was repulsed his front defied all direct approach, with mutual slaughter; but a simul. Gen. Kearny ordered Col. Hobart taneous attack on our front, from the Ward, with the 38th New York, to direction of Fort Magruder, was suc- charge down the road and take the cessful to the extent of capturing 4 rifle-pits on the center of the abatis of our guns and making 200 or 300 by their flank; which was gallantly prisoners.
done, the regiment losing 9 of its 19 Thus, for nine hours,—from 7:30 officers during the brief hour of its A. M. to 4:30 P. M.,—Hooker's single engagement. The success of its division was pitted against substan- charge not being perfect, the left tially the whole Rebel army, with wing of Col. Riley's 40th New York every advantage of a chosen and (Mozart) charged up to the open skillfully fortified position on their space, and, taking the rifle-pits in reside. No division ever fought better; verse, drove out their occupants and and, though its General estimates the held the ground. By this time, Gen. Rebel killed as double his own, he is Jameson had brought up the rear doubtless mistaken.
brigade of the division; whereby, Gen. Heintzelman and staff, but under a severe fire, a second line was no troops, had arrived early in the established, and two columns of regiafternoon. At 4:30 P. M., Gen. ments made disposable for further Kearny arrived, with his division, operations, when thick darkness and pressed to the front; allowing closed in, and our soldiers rested, in Hooker's thinned regiments to with rain and mire, on the field they had draw from the fight and be held as a barely won. reserve. Kearny, under Gen. Heint Gen. Heintzelman, who had at zelman's orders, at once deployed Yorktown been charged by Gen.
3 Gen. McClellan, in his report, says: although troops were brought back during the
"It is my opinion that the enemy opposed us night and the next day, to bold the works as here with only a portion of his army. When long as possible, in order to gain time for the our cavalry first appeared, there was nothing trains, etc., already well on their way to Richbut the enemy's rear-guard in Williamsburg: | mond, to make their escape."
MOCLELLAN AT WILLIAMSBURG.
McClellan with the direction of the ing of Franklin's division to West pursuit, had this day been superseded Point—was induced, after some deby an order which placed Gen. Sum- lay, to ride to the front, reaching ner in command at the front. To Hancock's position about 5 P. M. Sumner, accordingly, Hooker had Before dark, several other divisions sent, at different times throughout had arrived on the ground; that of the afternoon, pressing applications Gen. Couch, or a part of it, in season for aid, but had received none; and to claim the honor of having been Hooker says in his report:
engaged in the battle. “History will not be believed when it is Gen. McClellan, at 10 P. M., distold that the noble officers and men of my patched to Washington the following division were permitted to carry on this unequal struggle from morning until night
account of this bloody affair, which unaided, in the presence of more than proves that he was still quite in the 30,000 of their comrades with arms in their dark respecting it: hands. Nevertheless, it is true."
“After arranging for movement up York Gen. Sumner explains that, before river, I was urgently sent for here. I find these applications reached him, he
Joe Johnston in front of me in stron5 force,
probably greater, a good deal, than my own, had dispatched Gen. Hancock, with
and very strongly intrenched. Hancock has his brigade, to the extreme right; so | taken two redoubts, and repulsed Early's that he had but about 3,000 infantry
brigade by a real charge with the bayonet,
taking one Colonel and 150 prisoners, killleft, while cavalry was useless in that ing at least two Colonels and as many Lt.wooded and unknown region; hence,
Colonels, and many privates. His conduct
was brilliant in the extreme. I do not know he was unable to give the assistance
our exact loss, but fear Hooker has lost conrequired.
siderably on our left. I learn from prisonGen. Hancock duly accomplished
ers that they intend disputing every step to
Richmond. I shall run the risk of at least the flanking movement assigned him, holding them in check here, while I resume and, by a brilliant bayonet charge,
the original plan. My entire force is, uncarried
doubtedly, considerably inferior to that of the Rebel works on our | the Rebeis, who still fight well; but I will right, with a loss of less than 50 do all I can with the force at my disposal." men.“ Soon, Gen. McClellan—after Had he supposed that the Rebels whom the Prince De Joinville and were at that moment evacuating Gov. Sprague, of Rhode Island, had Williamsburg in such haste as to ridden post haste to Yorktown, where leave all their severely wounded, 700 he was superintending the dispatch- or 800 in number, to become prison
*Gen. McClellan, in his Report, says that he gados to support that part of the line. Gen. first heard, at 1 P. M., that every thing was not Naglee, with his brigade, received similar or
ders. I then directed our center to advance progressing favorably, when:
to the further edge of the woods mentioned “Completing the necessary arrangements, I above, which was done, and attempted to open returned to my camp without delay, rode rapidly communication with Gen. Heintzelman, but was to the front, a distance of some fourteen miles, prevented by the marshy state of the ground through roads much obstructed by troops and in the direction in which the attempt was made. wagons, and reached the field between 4 and 5 Before Gens. Smith and Naglee could reach the P. M., in time to take a rapid survey of the field of Gen. Hancock's operations, although they ground. I soon learned that there was no mored with great rapidity, he had been condirect communication between our center and fronted by a superior force. Feigning to rethe left under Gen. Heintzelman. The center treat slowly, he awaited their onset, and then was chiefly in the nearer edge of the woods situ- turned upon them: after some terrific volleys of ated between us and the enemy. As heavy musketry, he charged them with the bayonet, firing was heard in the direction of Gen. Han- || routing and dispersing their whole force, killing, cock's command, I immediately ordered Gen. wounding, and capturing from 500 to 600 men; Smith to proceed with his two remaining bri- l he himself losing only 31 men."
ers, he must have written a very dif- which had been kept on board the ferent dispatch ; and it is not proba- transports which brought it from ble that they would have carried off, Alexandria two or three weeks beover the drenched and miry roads, fore, had been preparing to move more cannon than they could boast from Yorktown up York river to on the morning before the battle.” West Point; where its 1st brigade,
Gen. Hooker reports a loss in under Gen. Newton, landed unopthis engagement of 338 killed, 902 posed next day." It debarked on a wounded, and 335 missing, who of spacious, open plain on the west side course were prisoners. Gen. McClel of the York and its south-western lan makes our total loss during the affluent, the Pamunkey; no enemy day 456 killed, 1,400 wounded, and appearing till next day. Meantime, 372 missing; total, 2,228." Many of Gen. Dana had arrived with a part those prisoners, knowing that we had of Gen. Sedgwick’s division, but not an overwhelming force just at hand, debarked. Our gunboats took quiet confidently looked for recapture dur-possession of the little village at the ing the night, and were sorely cha- Point, and hoisted our flag over it; grined to find themselves deliberately no white man appearing to greet marching toward a Rebel prison next their arrival. During the night, one day.
of our vedettes was shot through the While the battle at Williamsburg heart, from the wood that fringed the was raging, Gen. Franklin's division, plain whereon our troops were en
37 On waking, next morning, to find the Reb- | placed on the colors of regiments? We have els vanished and his forces in quiet possession other battles to fight before reaching Richmond. of Williamsburg, Gen. McClellan forwarded the
“G. B. MCCLELLAN,
** Maj. Gen. Commanding." following more cheerful dispatches:
"HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ? "HEADQUARTERS ARHY OF THE POTOMAC,
"WILLIAMSBURG, May 6. I " WILLIAMSBURG, VA., May 6. S | “Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War: “ Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
“Every hour proves our victory more com"I have the pleasure to announce the occupa.
ccupa: plete. The enemy's loss is great, especially in tion of this place as the result of the hard-fought |
delought officers. I have just heard of five more of their action of yesterday The effect of Hancock's
guns captured. Prisoners are constantly arriv. brilliant engagement yesterday afternoon was to
G. B. MCCLELLAN, turn the left of their line of works. He was
“Maj.-Gen. Commanding." strongly réenforced, and the enemy abandoned 38 the entire position during the night, leaving all
** No official account of the Rebel losses in his sick and wounded in our hands. His Ioss this engagement is at hand; but the Richmond yesterday was very severe. We have some 300 Dispatch of May 8th has a bulletin, professedly uninjured prisoners, and more than a thousand based on an official dispatch froin Gen. Johnwounded. Their loss in killed is heavy. The ston, which, claiming 11 cannon and 623 pris. victory is complete. “I have sent cavalry in pursuit; but the roads
oners captured, admits a Rebel loss of but 220; are in such condition that I cannot move artil
yet names Gen. Anderson, of North Carolina, lery nor supplies. I shall therefore push the Col. Mott, of Mississippi, Col. Ward, 4th Florother movement most energetically. The con- | ida and Col. Wm. H. Palmer, 1st Virginia, as duct of our men has been excellent, with scarcely
among the killed; and Gen. Early, Gen. Rains, an exception. The enemy's works are very ex
| Col. Kemper, 7th Virginia, Col. Corse, 17th
ca tensive and exceediugly strong, both in respect to their position and the works themselves. Our
Virginia, and Col Garland, of Lynchburg, as loss was heavy in Hooker's division, but very wounded ; adding: "The 1st Virginia was badly little on other parts of the field. Hancock's cut up. Out of 200 men in the fight, some 80 success was gained with a loss of not over 20 or 90 are reported killed or wounded. Col. killed and wounded. Weather good to-day, but
Kemper's regiment suffered terribly, though we great difficulty in getting up food on account of the roads. Very few wagons have yet come up.
have no account of the extent of the casualties." Am I authorized to follow the example of other These items indicate a total loss of certainly not Generals, and direct names of battles to be I less than 1,000.
s0 May 6.