position were old naval thirty-two pounders, the strength of the position against a serious naval attack was more apparent than real.
The land front at Yorktown
had been partially fortified, but was by no means secure from assault, and standing timber and neighboring ravines offered sheltered approaches to within very short distance of the works.
Below Lee's mill
, six miles from Yorktown
, no roads crossed the Warwick
, and the tide ebbed and flowed in its channel.
Above this point three dams, each defended by a slight earthwork, inundated the swamp nearly to its source, but the inundations were frequently fordable, though averaging nearly one hundred yards in width.
As soon as it became known that a large Federal force was being collected at Fortress Monroe
, General Johnston
was sent to examine the position at Yorktown
, to decide whether it could be maintained.
His report was unfavorable, being based on the dangers of the isolated position of Gloucester Point
, and of a well conducted naval attack up the York
, but it was nevertheless determined to hold the line as long as possible, as the possession of the Peninsula
was considered necessary to the safety of Norfolk
On the 4th of April, General McClellan
having arrived at Fortress Monroe
and taken command in person, put in motion towards Yorktown
the force already assembled, consisting of fifty-eight thousand men and one hundred guns, and at 10 A. M. of the 5th this formidable body appeared in front of the Confederate
With the small force at his disposal for manceuvre, General Magruder
marched and counter-marched from point to point, and made such a parade, and put on so bold a front that General McClellan
, who seems invariably to have seen Confederates double, imagined himself in the presence of a large force, and after some skirmishing and artillery firing he halted and encamped.
The remainder of the Federal
army was hurried up as fast as it arrived at Fortress Monroe
, and by the 12th of April the force present for duty exceeded one hundred thousand men.
Meanwhile the army of Northern Virginia (as General Johnston
's force was now designated, the department of Northern Virginia having