front of Yorktown
, and beyond the range of our old-fashioned ship-guns.
These batteries, our scouts reported, were for about one hundred of the heaviest Parrott
guns, and above thirty mortars.
A battery on the shore, three miles (pilot's distance) below Yorktown
, received the first guns mounted.
Shots of the first volley, fired to get the range of the Confederate
works, fell in the camp of the reserve, a mile and a half beyond the village.
It was evident that the enemy was pursuing the course predicted, and preparing to demolish our batteries on York River
The greater range of his guns would have enabled him to do it without exposure, and at the same time to inflict great loss upon our garrisons.
I could see no other object in holding the position than that of delaying the enemy's progress, to gain time in which arms might be received and troops organized.
But, as the additional day or two to be gained by enduring a cannonade would have been dearly bought in blood, I determined to remain in the position only so long as it could be done without exposing our troops to the powerful artillery which, I doubted not, would soon be brought to bear upon them.
Finding, on the 27th, that the Federal
batteries would be ready for action in five or six days, I informed the War Department of the fact, and of my intention to abandon Yorktown
and the Warwick
, before the fire of that artillery should be opened upon our troops.
The suggestion made in the conference in the President
's office was also repeated: to form a powerful army near Richmond
, of all the available forces of the Confederacy
, to fall upon McClellan