previous next
[175] by forts and intrenchments, the ground in front of which was swept by the guns of Yorktown.

After close personal reconnoissance, and after careful reflection and consultation, General McClellan determined not to attempt to carry the lines of Yorktown by immediate assault, but to assail it by the regular operations of a siege. As this decision has been severely criticized by writers who conduct campaigns in their studies and judge of military movements and military men by the light of subsequent events, it may be well to pause for a moment and consider briefly the grounds of his determination.

He had with him at that time-General Franklin's division not having then arrived — but a little over fifty thousand men. The number of the Confederate forces was not known; but General Johnston had reached Yorktown on the 6th of April with heavy reinforcements, and it was believed that the whole force of the enemy was, or soon would be, not less than a hundred thousand men. Our troops were admirable troops, as their subsequent conduct abundantly showed; but they were comparatively new; and nothing tries the temper and nerve of the soldier so much as the assault of a strongly-defended place.

General Barnard, Chief Engineer of the army, whose position entitled his opinion to the highest consideration, expressed his judgment that the works could not with any reasonable degree of certainty be carried by assault. There are copious extracts from his Report embodied in that of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (3)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George B. McClellan (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Franklin (1)
Barnard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 6th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: