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[38] and two hundred pounder rifles and thirteen inch mortars, decided General Johnston not to undergo the risks of a siege in which the weight of metal would be so vastly against him.1

Accordingly, on the night of Saturday, the 3rd of May, two days before the day appointed by McClellen for opening his batteries, the Army of Northern Virginia was quietly withdrawn from its intrenchments and put in motion up the Peninsula, whither for several days its impedimenta had been preceding it. All valuable stores were successfully removed, except the armament and ammunition of the Yorktown batteries, which was necessarily reserved to the last moment for emergencies. A few hours before the evacuation commenced, however, General D. H. Hill opened a bombardment of the enemy's lines which somewhat reduced the ammunition on hand, and also served to prevent any suspicion of his departure. About eighty guns were abandoned in all, including those at Gloucester Point, but their real value was very little, being mostly old ship guns brought from the navy yard at Norfolk, and ranging from thirty-two pounders to eight-inch columbiads — too heavy for land defence and too light for effective water batteries. About seventy-five rounds of ammunition were left for each piece.

About midnight, the infantry having all taken the road, and the rear guard of cavalry being in position, the firing ceased, the guns were spiked and the artillerists were also withdrawn.

The enemy did not discover the retreat until sunrise on the 4th, when they advanced with some caution to investigate the unusal quiet of the Confederate lines. A number of torpedoes had been planted in various places about the deserted lines by General Raines, and one of them was exploded about 3 o'clock in the morning by some cavalry stragglers from the Confederate rear-guard, who entered the town, some of them being wounded by the explosion. Within a short while after the entrance of the enemy several other explosions occurred, causing in all nearly thirty casualties. Other torpedoes were planted by General Raines at points along the route of the retreat, after the

1 It has been claimed that the sieges of Vicksburg, Port Hudson and Petersburg have demonstrated that the lines of Yorktown could have been held, in spite of the powerful array of artillery which was prepared against them, and that, therefore, Johnston's retreat was unnecessary. There is no doubt that they could have been held against all front attacks for a long time, but the enemy had other armies in the field, operating against Richmond, and it would certainly have been bad policy to have left the main body of the Confederate army in such a cul de sac, and where the enemy's navy could be brought to bear against its flanks with such threatening results.

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