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[72] in his front and drove it back to the main line. Later in the day General Early sent out from Redoubt No. 5 Colonel Ward's Florida regiment and the Second Mississippi Battalion, under Colonel Taylor. They drove the sharpshooters from their rifle pits and pursued them to the main road from Warwick Court House, encountered a battery posted at an earthwork, and compelled it precipitately to retire. On the approach of a large force of the enemy's infantry, Colonel Ward returned to our works, after having set fire to the dwelling house above mentioned. These affairs developed the fact that the enemy was in strong force, in front of both Wynne's Mill and Redoubts Nos. 4 and 5. On the next night General Early sent out Colonel Terry's Virginia regiment to cut down the peach orchard and burn the rest of the houses which had afforded shelter to the assailants; on the succeeding night Colonel Mc-Rae, with his North Carolina regiment, went further to the front and felled the cedars along the main road which partially hid the enemy's movements, and subsequently our men were not annoyed by the sharpshooters. About the middle of April a further reenforcement of two divisions from the army of Northern Virginia was added to our forces on the Peninsula, which amounted, when General Johnston assumed command, to something over fifty thousand.

The work of strengthening the defenses was still continued. On April 16th an assault was made on our line, to the right of Yorktown, which was repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy, and such serious discomfiture that henceforward his plan seemed to be to rely upon bombardment, for which numerous batteries were prepared.

The views of the enemy, as revealed by the testimony before the committee on the conduct of the war, were that he could gain possession of Gloucester Point only by reenforcements operating on the north side of York River, or by the previous reduction of Yorktown. In addition to the answer given by General McClellan, I quote from the testimony of General Keyes. He said, β€˜The possession of Gloucester Point by the enemy retarded the taking of Yorktown, and it also enabled the enemy to close the river at that point,’ and added, β€˜Gloucester must have fallen upon our getting possession of Yorktown, and the York River would then have been open.’1

With the knowledge possessed by us, General McClellan certainly might have sent a detachment from his army which, after crossing the York River, could have turned the position at Gloucester Point and have overcome our small garrison at that place; this is but one of the

1 Report on the Conduct of the War, Part I, pp. 601, 602.

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