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[127] though no hostile force had appeared. Next morning, however, a regiment or two of the enemy was descried and shelled from our gunboats ; whereupon Gen. Dana, by order of Gen. Slocum, hastened the landing of his men and horses ; while the 16th, 31st, and 32d New York, with thle 95th and 96th Pennsylvania, were pushed forward into the woods in our front, with orders to drive out the few Rebel scouts who were supposed to be skulking there. They soon found themselves engaged with a far larger force than they had expected, whereof Gen. Whiting's Texan division and Wade Hampton's South Carolina Legion formed a part; and who, with every advantage of position and knowledge of the ground, drove our men out in haste and disorder. Twice the attempt was renewed, with similar results; but at length, our batteries having been landed and posted, they, with tile aid of the gunboats, easily silenced the single Rebel battery of small howitzers, which, from an elevated clearing in the woods, had assisted to repel the advance of our infantry; and now that infantry pushed once more into the woods, and found no enemy to contest their possession. We lost in this affair 194 men, mainly of the 31st and 32d New York, including two Captains and two Lieutenants; while the Rebel loss was trifling.

Gen. Stoneman, with the advance of our main army, moved from Williamsburg on the 8th to open communication with Gen. Franklin, followed by Smith's division on the direct road to Richmond. Rain fell frequently; the roads were horrible; so that Gen. McClellan's headquarters only reached White House on tile 16th, Tunstall's Station on the 19th, and Coal Harbor on the 22d. Our advanced light troops lad reached tile Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge two days before.

The movement of our grand army up the Peninsula, in connection with Burnside's successes and captures in North Carolina,1 had rendered the possession of Norfolk by the Rebels no longer tenable. To hold it by any force less than an army would be simply exposing that force to capture or destruction at the pleasure of our strategists. Gen. Wool, commanding at Fortress Monroe, having organized an expedition designed to reduce that important city, led it thither on the 10th; finding the bridge over Tanner's creek on fire, but no enemy to dispute possession of Norfolk, which was quietly surrendered by its Mayor. The Navy Yard and Portsmouth were in like manner repossessed; the Rebels, ere they left, destroying every thing that would burn, partially blowing up the Dry Dock, and completely destroying their famous ironclad known to us as the Merrimac.2 They left about 200 cannon, including 39 of large caliber at Craney Island, and those in the Sewell's Point batteries, which, though spiked, were valuable; 29 pieces were found mounted on strong earthworks two miles from Norfolk, but deserted. In fact, it had been decided, at a council held at Norfolk some days before, that no attempt should be made to defend that city. The Merrimac, though she never fully re-covered from the effects of her struggle

1 See pages 73-81.

2 May 11, 5 A. M.

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