New-York, Coast Guards; Major Dodge's battalion of mounted rifles and Capt. Follett's company (D) of the Fourth regular artillery. Gen. Wool and staff remained to superintend the landing of the remainder of the force, all of whom were landed and off before noon. The President, accompanied by Secretary Stanton, accompanied Gen. Wool and staff to the wharf, and then took a tug and proceeded to the Minnesota, where the President was received by a national salute. It is generally admitted that the President and Secretary have infused new vigor into both naval and military operations here. The President has declared that Norfolk must fall, the Merrimac must succumb to the naval power of the Union, and that the Government property at Norfolk must be repossessed, at whatever cost it may require. The point at which we are landing, with the aid of a half-dozen canal-boats, furnishes quite a fine harbor, and the troops and horses are landing with great facility. The beach is fine and sloping, and a woods of thick cedar lines the shores. A good road starts from here direct to Norfolk, which is distant only seven miles, and at noon our infantry advance had accomplished half the distance without obstruction of any kind, where they halted for the arrival of the artillery and cavalry. They will, of course, proceed more cautiously for the remainder of the route; but appearances would indicate that the evacuation of Norfolk is steadily progressing. I just learn that Gen. Max Weber has advanced to within three miles of Norfolk without meeting with any serious opposition. At Tanner's Creek a small picket was stationed, with a howitzer, and a slight skirmish took place without any damage on either side. The rebels fled in great haste across the bridge, which they destroyed. Two prisoners were taken, who stated there would be no resistance at Norfolk, which was being evacuated, and that the determination was not to make the “last ditch” at Norfolk. Fires were burning all around the country, principally the destruction of barracks and camps.
Fortress Monroe, May 10, 1862.I have just returned from Point Pleasant. Large reinforcements of cavalry, infantry, and artillery are being sent over, and we will soon have quite a respectable force in the rear of Norfolk to repulse the enemy if he should dispute the possession of the city. Whilst all these active movements are progressing toward Norfolk by the mainland, there is the utmost quiet observable on the sea side. The iron monster, the Merrimac, still remains moored under the shore of the Craney Island battery, and has not apparently budged a peg for the last twenty-four hours. The Monitor has also remained quietly all day at her usual anchorage, and our vessels of war. The quiet that now prevails must, however, be the prelude to a sudden storm. If Norfolk should be evacuated and possessed by our troops, what will become of the Merrimac? If the troops should reach the city and the Merrimac should go back to shell them, what will be the course of the Monitor and our fleet? Will they not follow the Merrimac and give her a fire in the rear?
Norfolk, Sunday, May 11, 1862.Here I am in the city of Norfolk, over which floats the flag of the Union from the cupola of the Custom-House, which has been “repossessed and reoccupied” by the Government. From the masts of five noble vessels-of-war, ranged around the harbor, floats the same beautiful banner, whilst the flag of Com. Goldsborough floats from the Susquehanna, which lies directly in the centre of this line of marine architecture. The guns are protruding from the ports of their long line of wooden walls, which are flanked on the right by the Monitor and the Naugatuck, which are moored in front of old Fort Norfolk. But I must proceed to give you a narrative as to how all these events originated. In my last letter I stated that a force had been landed at Point Pleasant, eight miles in the rear of Norfolk, under command of Major-Gen. Wool, with Brig.-Generals Mansfield, Max Weber, and Viele. The first division of the troops landed at the Port, (the Twentieth New-York, under Max Weber,) immediately started forward, accompanied by the Independent Lowell artillery company of Capt. Davis, equipped and acting as infantry. They continued the advance for five miles without any obstructions. On approaching the bridge over Tanner's Creek, the rebels retreated across, set it on fire, and with three small howitzers opened a fire on our advance, which was returned with rifles, without “anybody being hurt” on either side. The bridge being nearly a quarter of a mile long, so soon as it was in flames, and pursuit foiled, the rebels fled toward Norfolk. A halt was here ordered, and the men rested until Major-Gen. Wool and staff, with Gens. Viele and Mansfield, came up with Major Dodge's company of mounted rifles, acting as the commanding General's body-guard. A “native,” who was found on the road, was questioned as to the roads to Norfolk, and it was ascertained that the city could be reached by the Princess Anne road, around the head of Tanner's Creek, by a march of eight miles. On obtaining this information, Gen. Wool ordered an advance, and, taking the head of the column, the veteran soldier, with Secretary Chase riding by his side as a volunteer aid, proceeded forward in line of march by the new route, sending skirmishers in advance. Nothing of interest occurred on the line of march until the troops reached within three miles of the city, when all the approaches were observed to be extensively fortified by lines of earthworks full three miles in length, mounted with heavy guns. These works could have been defended by five thousand men against an army of forty thousand, but not a man was found within these ramparts, and all the guns were spiked. The ammunition from these works had mostly been removed, and probably taken to Norfolk. Gen. Viele was the first to enter, followed by the skirmishers and body-guard and staff of Gen. Wool.