6,000 of his men he garrisoned the extremities of his line, holding Gloucester Point
and closing the York river
by his batteries.
The other 5,000 held the line of the Warwick creek
, which he had converted into a formidable line of defense by the use of all the resources that nature and engineering skill had placed within his reach.
On April 2 McClellan
reached Fort Monroe
, and finding 58,000 of his troops ready to move, he ordered this force forward on the 4th, leaving the remainder to follow.
Next day he found himself in front of Magruder
's line, where his advance was checked, and so vigorously and skilfully did Magruder
manage his forces that the Federal
army forbore to assault, and deliberately set down to force the handful of Confederates out of their Yorktown
lines by regular approaches and siege guns.
A feeble and unsuccessful attempt was made on April 16 to break the Confederate
lines, and after this McClellan
seemed confirmed in his conviction that they could be carried only by regular siege operations.
These lines were held for one month — long enough for Johnston
and the bulk of his army to reach Yorktown
— long enough for the Confederate Government to make all the dispositions within its power to meet the invading army.
Much has been written in criticism, and much in defence of the Federal
administration and of McClellan
in reference to the “siege of Yorktown
That the administration treated McClellan
badly there can be no doubt.
Its whole conduct towards him, in the spring of 1862, showed want of confidence, and in withholding McDowell
's corps at the last moment, it behaved in a way that should have caused his immediate and peremptory resignation.
But, on the other hand, it is nonsense to excuse, on the score of want of support, a commander who, with 80,000 or 90,000 troops, was completely held at bay by 11,000 men behind a line twelve miles long!
showed as great skill in retiring from Yorktown
as he and Magruder
had shown in defending it. At the last moment when McClellan
, after a month's arduous effort, was about ready to open his powerful batteries, Johnston
quietly retreated towards Richmond
, and so surprised and disconcerted McClellan
, that it was half a day before he could begin the pursuit. (Page 69.) At Williamsburg
(May 5) the Confederates
found it necessary to check the advance of the Federals
, which was pressing their rear.
and D. H. Hill
were halted for this purpose.
accomplished the end in view handsomely by severely defeating Hooker
's division, and inflicting some damage on Kearney
's. D. H. Hill
, on the Confederate
left, did not manage so well, and in consequence Hancock
was able there to