Sunday, September 7, 2008

From Gen. McClellan’s Army

Washington, April 8. – The following is a summery of intelligence received by the War Department up to 10 o’clock Monday night of the operations at Yorktown and Fortress Monroe:

“Yesterday the enemy’s works were carefully examined by Gen. McClellan, and found to be very strong and the approaches difficult. The enemy was in force, and the water batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester were said to be much increased.

“There was sharp firing on the right, but no harm done. Our forces were receiving supplies from Ship Point, repairing roads, and getting up long trains. It seemed plain that mortars and siege guns must be used for assaulting.”

Another dispatch, received at 10:30 this morning, states that Yorktown will fall, but not without a siege of two or three days. Some of the outer works have been taken.

A dispatch from Gen. Wool states that Magruder had 30,000 men at Yorktown.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Ship Point had been taken and our gunboats had shelled out the batteries.

There was considerable delay caused in crossing Deep Creek, at Warwick Court House, and resistance was made by the rebels, during which time several casualties occurred on our side.

All the fortified places of importance before Yorktown had been taken at every point.

A fuller account is contained in the following dispatch:

“Before Yorktown, Saturday evening.

“Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Sec’y of War:

“That portion of the army of the Potomac recently concentrated at Old Point advanced yesterday morning in the direction of Yorktown, fourteen miles distant. The right was assigned to Gen. Morrill’s Brigade of Gen. Porter’s Division, two companies of the Third Pennsylvania cavalry and a portion of Berdan’s Sharpshooters acting as skirmishers.

“Nothing of interest took place until their arrival at Big Bethel, twelve miles distant, where they met the outer pickets of the rebels. The troops were delayed here two hours, constructing a bridge which had been destroyed.

The rebels retreated before the advance of our skirmishers to Howard’s Creek, where they had some abandoned earth-works. Shots were fired here by the rebels from two field pieces, which were soon silenced by the 4th Rhode Island Battery, when the rebels beat a hasty retreat, taking their pieces with them. The main body of the army rested here for the night, while Morrill’s Brigade advance three miles to Cuckleville, six miles from Yorktown. By 7 o’clock this (Saturday) morning, the column was again in motion, and by 10 o’clock was in front of the enemy’s works at Yorktown.

The first shot fired was by the rebels, the shell passing over the heads of Gen. Porter and staff without exploding. The batteries of Griffin and the Third and Fourth Rhode Island and Fifth Massachusetts were placed in position, replying at every spot from which shot were sent by the rebels.

The cannonading continued, with but a light intermission, until dark. About 400 shots were fired by both parties during the day. The lost on our side was three killed and some five wounded.

The position of the rebels is a strong one – From present indications their fortifications extend some two miles in length and mount very heavy guns. The ground in front of their guns is low and swampy.

– Published in the Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Thursday, April 10, 1862

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